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John Hughes’ seminal teen dramedy The Breakfast Club stands the test of time because it swam upstream against the tide that carried its conventional counterparts. Here, finally, was a tightly-scripted comedy with a tremendous ear for actual teen dialogue and five expertly crafted personalities to which millions of audience members could relate. So it’s funny to learn, 30 years after its release, that Hughes almost bowed to cultural influence and included a scene in The Breakfast Club that would have fit better in, say, Porky’s or one of its forgettable sequels.
Vanity Fair has a fantastic excerpt from Kirk Honeycutt’s upcoming book "John Hughes: A Life In Film," during which he recounts how Hughes initially had a gratuitous nudity scene in the middle of his detention-day comedy. At the time of production, "teen comedies" in the defined genre usually included wild party scenes and shameless breast shots. Hughes wasn’t immune. His screenplay fro National Lampoon’s Vacation had Beverly D’Angelo in the shower. His directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, had a surprising shower scene. And The Breakfast Club was going to fall on the nudity line.
As Honeycutt writes, Hughes had planned a scene where the "Club" members snuck out of the library and found a peephole that looked into the girls’ locker room. It seemed that the school’s synchronized swim team was going to have Saturday morning practice, and the gang would get a peek at the well-endowed coach. Hughes even cast buxom Karen Leigh Hopkins (D.C. Cab, Cloak & Dagger) in the role.
But according to the excerpt, The Breakfast Club co-stars Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy – joined by co-producer Michelle Manning – ganged up on Hughes. They questioned the validity of the scene, calling it sexist and misogynistic. And Hughes rewrote it.
Would The Breakfast Club be a different movie with that scene? Would it be better, or worse? It’s hard to tell. It would have fit more in line with teen comedies of the era, and a scene like that – while out of character – would have been casually dismissed. So long as Hughes maintained the honesty in his dialogue, I’m not sure a gratuitous scene like that would have been any more distracting than the "Club" members running through the halls of the school to avoid their domineering principal.
But it’s always interesting to get a peek behind the curtain of some of our seminal films, to see what almost made it in, and what ended up on the proverbial cutting-room floor.