John Hughes’ iconic movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was released 30 years ago this week. It’s a coming-of-age comedy that without a doubt influenced a generation of comedy fans. Bueller was an ode to 80s teenagers everywhere as well as what Hughes called a, “love letter to the city of Chicago.” In the spirit of the movie’s 30th anniversary, here are 30 things you might not know about the movie.
There was a lot of love on set…
1. Ferris Bueller and his sister were engaged in real life.
That’s right, Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey got engaged after meeting on set of this movie. However, they never made it to the altar. About a year after getting engaged, the pair were involved in a car accident in Ireland that killed two passengers in the other vehicle. The the stress of the event caused the two to split.
2. Ferris’ parents made it to the altar in real life.
Ferris’ dad (Lyman Ward) and mom (Cindy Pickett) got married in 1986 after meeting on set. Though the two split a few years later in 1992, they had two children yet missed the opportunity to name them Ferris and Jeannie.
3. An improv legend was in the film.
Del Close was the founder of modern improv and taught the craft to almost every comedic actor out of Second City in the 70s and 80s. Because of this, Close had extremely (ahem) close ties to the comedy scene of Chicago and Hughes put him in the film. Close portrayed the English Teacher and delivered the classic line, “In… whattt… waaaaaay?” to a class full of bored kids.
In fact, a few scenes in the film were improvised…
4. Ben Stein’s scene was improvised.
Long before you could win his money, Ben Stein was a Presidential speech writer for Ford and Nixon as well as an economics professor. He was originally set to speak his lines off camera but his voice made the room laugh. Hughes told Stein to just lecture about something he knew a lot about, so Stein taught a bit about economics as Hughes filmed it. The cast and crew applauded after Stein was finished, but not because they learned anything but because he successfully pulled off being boring. The only part of Stein’s scene that was scripted was when he took attendance. Bueller… Bueller.
5. As was the scene between Principal Rooney and his secretary Grace.
6. And this iconic line too…
7. Cameron’s Red Wings jersey actually belonged to Gordie Howe
You’d think since the film is set in Chicago, Cameron would be wearing a Blackhawks jersey. But Hughes was born in Michigan and decided to put Cameron in a Detroit jersey to celebrate that. Then Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe, sent one of his jerseys to be used in the film. Howe later told Sports Illustrated that, “it was nice seeing the No. 9 on the big screen.”
8. A member of the band Sonic Youth is in the film.
Richard Edson, one of the parking lot attendants was the original drummer in Sonic Youth (1981-1982). Edson was a character actor that acted in around 85 film and TV appearances.
9. John Hughes pitched the film in one sentence…
John Hughes called the head of Paramount Films, Ned Tanen and said, “I want to do this movie about a kid who takes a day off from school and and that’s all I know so far.” Tanen had a good report with Hughes and said, “go ahead.”
10. Hughes then wrote the script in “about 4 days.”
John Hughes made his one sentence pitch right before an impending writer’s strike. So, being famous for his late nights and long hours of work, Hughes just sat down and wrote the entire script in less than a week in order to avoid the strike.
11. Internet sleuths determined that June 5, 1985 was Ferris’ actual day off.
Superfans sleuthed and determined that the Cubs/Braves game Ferris and his friends went to in the movie took place on June 5, 1985. (The Braves won, 4-2.). However, production on the flick ran during the fall, so the game they filmed at was actually in September when the Cubs played the Expos.
12. The crew crashed both the baseball game and the parade.
The scene with the crew at Cubs game was shot while an actual game was occurring. Not to be outdone, Hughes had the crew crash an actual Von Steuben Day parade to shoot parade scenes. They entered a float into the annual procession in downtown Chicago but didn’t inform parade officials or judges what they were planning on doing. Some pickups were shot the next day after an invitation was put out on local radio asking for people to take part in a John Hughes movie. A bored Jennifer Grey donned a wig so she could be in the crowd and part of the fun unnoticed. Broderick struggled with the choreography because of a knee injury. And you can also catch construction workers (who were not actors) just dancing along. Hughes found them so fun that he just told the camera men to film them and they made the final cut.
13. The film is a National Treasure.
The film was one of the top-grossing films of 1986. In 2014, the National Film Registry deemed it, “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and archived it for preservation.
14. Rodney Dangerfield bested the movie opening weekend.
Rodney Dangerfield’s Back To School opened the same weekend as FBDO and had a better box office opening landing the #1 spot for the weekend. While Ferris would eventually earn more critical praise and money at the box office, for just one weekend Rodney Dangerfield got more respect.
15. Opening weekend isn’t all the two movies have in common.
The Beatles’ song, “Twist And Shout” is featured in both Back To School and FBDO. While Rodney Dangerfield performs a cover version of the song, Ferris lip syncs The Beatles’ version during a parade in the streets of Chicago. Because of both films, the song re-entered the Billboard charts 16 years after The Beatles had broken up and 20 years after they first covered the song.
16. Paul McCartney approved the use of the song in the film, but was angry with the final cut.
Good timing allowed them to use the Beatles song in the film as Paul McCartney was doing a round of song approvals for movies. However he wasn’t too happy with how the song was portrayed in the final cut because they overdubbed brass horns from the marching band. McCartney stated that he liked the film but if the song, “needed brass, we’d had stuck it on ourselves!” John Hughes felt really bad for “offending a Beatle.” But later added, “it wasn’t really part of the song. We saw a band and we needed to hear the instruments.”
17. Though there are many musical moments from the film, there was never an official soundtrack released.
Hughes refused to release an official soundtrack to the movie. He felt the mix of songs was too uneven, didn’t flow together, and wouldn’t work well as an album. UPDATE: Perhaps not.
18. The Cure were almost in the film
Robert Smith of The Cure wrote a song for the art museum scene but it wasn’t used. Hughes had a disagreement with music supervisor David Anderle, Anderle was taken off the movie and Robert Smith’s song went with him. After an acoustic guitar solo that replaced it tested badly with audiences, the new music supervisor used an instrumental version of The Smith’s “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” performed by his band. So The Smiths replaced A Smith.
19. Principal Rooney and Ferris just speak at each other.
If you pay close attention when Ferris and Principal Rooney are in any scene together. Only one of the characters will do all of the talking. The other never speaks.
20. There’s an entire backstory for Charlie Sheen’s character that didn’t make the film.
According to a 1986 documentary, Charlie Sheen’s character’s name is actually Garth Volbeck. There was going to be a whole backstory to his character and family. It was also revealed that Ferris’ realtor mom was showing the house for sale to the Volbecks. If you look closely, the tow truck that towed Rooney’s car was from Volbeck’s Wrecking Service.
21. Charlie Sheen stayed up for 48 hours to play Garth Volbeck.
Jennifer Grey filmed Red Dawn with Charlie Sheen and recommended him for the movie. Sheen was shooting another film but agreed to do FBDO. In order to get the right strung out look, Sheen reportedly decided to spend 48 hours straight awake before he taped his scene.
22. Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall were considered for the role of Cameron Frye…
But they both turned it down. John Candy auditioned for the role but was turned down because producers thought he was too old. Alan Ruck eventually got the role of Cameron. He was 29 at the time, the character of Cameron was supposed to be 17.
23. Comedian Louie Anderson makes two cameos in the film
Anderson plays a flower delivery guy who shows up twice at the Bueller household, once by himself to deliver flowers and once with the nurse who likes to…
24. There’s a real sausage king of Chicago
But his name is not Abe Froman, its Hot Doug. Doug Sohn owned and operated a beloved sausage shop in Roscoe Village Chicago. It was so beloved, a woman ate there for free because she got a Hot Doug tattoo. In 2015, Doug closed up shop and his customers freaked out. Fans were so rabid, they camped out for days to get one last Hot Doug. Another fan walked into the restaurant and offered Doug a million dollars on the spot just to stay open. But Doug felt it was time to close up shop. Doug couldn’t stay too far away though, as he started a podcast about food and eventually opened a new sausage stand at Wrigley Field. A move that solidifies him as the sausage king of Chicago and gives him unlimited entry into all Cubs games.
25. Before Marvel, Ferris Bueller was part of a cinematic universe
Or cinematic high school at least. The fictional “Shermer High” shows up in a few John Hughes films. Hughes also shot many interior and exterior shots for his movies at the same two high schools. One in Des Plaines, IL and the other in Northbrook, IL. Hughes also dropped Easter Eggs for his movies into Ferris Bueller including license plates that read “MMOM,” (for Mr. Mom), “VCTN,” (for National Lampoon’s Vacation) and “4FBDO,” (for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Ferris’ room also features a Simple Minds poster, the band whose hit song “Don’t You Forget About Me” is synonymous with The Breakfast Club.
26. The movie has a lot to do with the Number 9
The Gordie Howe Jersey Cameron wears… #9. How many days has Ferris was absent from school… 9. How many wardrobe changes does Ferris make before he even leaves the house… 9. The song, “Danke Schoen” is heard in the movie… well 4 times. But you get the point.
27. The Ferrari really was expensive.
Though they used cheaper models for the film. The style of the 1961 Ferrari GT California that is destroyed in the movie is now one of the world’s most valuable cars. In 2008, one sold at auction for just under $11 million.
28. It inspired a bad sitcom with a Friends connection
For some reason in 1990, NBC execs tried to turn Ferris Bueller into a TV show. It starred Charlie Schlatter as the title character and a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston as his sister Jeannie. The series was jumbled, and seemed to be both a prequel and continuation of the movie at the same time. Just watch the series’ first segment when the title character acknowledges Matthew Broderick and the movie yet talks about Sloan like they never dated. Regardless, the series was bad and lasted 13 episodes before it was cancelled. Leaving the far better, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose around to fill the void of High School smartass antics on television.
29. The Bueller house was a real house
One day producers knocked on the front door of the Balkman family house and the Bueller house was found. Producers made a few changes to the place including drilling a hole in the fence for Principal Rooney to peer through, the doggie door for him to climb through, and fake intercom for him to get yelled at through. They also modeled Ferris’ bedroom to look like one of the Balkman’s sons, forgot to return the key to the back door, and gave the Balkman family an extra $1,000 for spoiling their food after they unplugged the refrigerator because it was making too much noise during shooting.
30. There’s a Fight Club Theory about Ferris Bueller
There’s a fan theory floating around the internet that asserts FBDO is actually like the movie Fight Club. The theory basically states that Cameron is such an abused person that he retreats into his brain and the fake persona of Ferris, who he’d like to be, comes out. The theory also states that Sloane represents Cameron’s perfect woman and is also a figment of his imagination. When all is said and done, the entire day was a delusion from the mind of Cameron Frye.