Pretty In Pink Had John Hughes Rewriting Scenes Over The Phone

"Pretty in Pink" is another warm-hearted entry in the Brat Pack canon. It's the classic tale of star-crossed lovers from opposing social classes made for the 1980s zeitgeist. Molly Ringwald plays Andie, a determined girl with an eye for fashion who lives in an impoverished Chicago suburb with her unemployed father. Her quirky best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) follows her around like a lovesick puppy, but she is struck by Blane (a sparkly-eyed Andrew McCarthy), one of the rich and popular kids. Despite their differences, they have a strong connection and start to date, at the behest of the devoted Duckie.

"Pretty in Pink" is the feature debut of former music video director Howard Deutch and writer John Hughes once again captures the teenage experience in the screenplay. Although Hughes was not in control of the camera, he was deeply involved with the production process, particularly when some of his scenes had to be rewritten. 

Deutch told The Hollywood Reporter that Hughes welcomed changes to his script: "To me, he was open, available and completely collaborative. He used to ask more and more if I had anything. So, early on, we talked about stuff, and he would do passes on the script immediately. But I trusted his gut more than mine. The script was very close to what you see, except for the ending." 

He elaborated on their partnership in Screen Rant

"Well, the first lesson that I learned was not to make it into 'my' movie, but to collaborate and interpret his script so that he always felt like it was 'our' movie, not 'my' movie. I think that's always important with any project. It's the voice of the writer, the voice of the director, and the voice of the actor that collide and create behavior. That's how you get something that feels personal and not manufactured. Not a 'product.' John was always open to that. He wasn't precious about his dialogue or his words as long as the sensibility and the tone and the notions of what he was trying to say were being protected.

Hughes was on call to rewrite scenes as needed, and he ended up having to rework several key moments.  

A sweet exchange with Andie's father

There's a scene early in the film that establishes Andie's caring relationship with her father Jack. Harry Dean Stanton's hangdong demeanor and quietness evokes sympathy despite his characters' shortcomings as an out-of-work alcoholic. Underneath it all, he's still mourning being abandoned by his wife. Andie is forced to grow up and take care of her father, waking him up early in the morning to get him ready for a full-time job interview. Instead, Jack wants to talk with his daughter since he's been getting home late at night. "Pretty in Pink" shows a close-knit father/daughter bond that is quite different from other coming-of-age films; parent/teen relationships are often fraught, with teenagers rolling their eyes at the idea of sharing their feelings with their parents. Jack and Andie have a sweet, sincere connection where they can laugh at one another and don't have to hide their true emotions. 

But Deutch felt this opening moment where Jack asks Andie about school and the prom was missing something. While the cast and crew waited to film, Deutch called Hughes and asked him to write some new lines on the spot. Hughes swiftly added an exchange where Jack has Andie model her latest thrift store creation, then jokes that she should do something with his ratty old t-shirt, like maybe add some ruffles. Andie laughs, then begs her father to do something more than part-time work. 

"It was Hughes' idea that Jack ask Andie to add ruffles to his undershirt. That way 'Pretty In Pink' both establishes her fashion and makes it funny," Deutch explains to Showbiz Cheat Sheet. It's a small bit of dialogue but it says a lot about their open, compassionate relationship. 

After filming ended, Hughes was asked to rewrite a pivotal scene. 

Choosing Blane over Duckie

"Pretty in Pink" ends with Andie choosing the guy whose name is a "major appliance," but that wasn't the original pairing. Hughes' initial finale had her falling for Duckie, but test audiences booed and advocated for Blane (via Cinemablend). Given only one day to reshoot on a soundstage, instead of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel where the first ending was filmed, Hughes rapidly rewrote the last scene. Andrew McCarthy wore a wig because he had to shave his head for an upcoming Broadway play.

Molly Ringwald anticipated audiences being unsatisfied with the original ending, telling Vogue: "It didn't make sense to have the entire movie be this Cinderella story [yet] she doesn't get to end up with the guy she wants." Also, she did not portray Andie with any romantic interest in Duckie, basing the character on her gay best friend that she shared a platonic relationship with. But it doesn't seem that Jon Cryer played him that way; the unfavorable audience reaction surprised him because he felt the film was leading up to Andie and Duckie's union. Hughes gives Duckie his own "Duckette," a girl that expresses interest in him at the prom, to make Duckie's ending more uplifting. 

In the conclusion we all know, Blane and Andie break up due to the strains of their class differences. Alone at prom, Blane goes up to Andie and confesses his love for her. Duckie accepts that Blane cares for Andie and encourages her to go after him because Blane is different than the other rich kids, and he wants her to be happy. Andie walks outside where Blane stands by his car; the dark mist and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's nostalgic ballad "If You Leave" evokes a romantic mood as they kiss passionately. There's a nice little detail where Andie drops her bag on the ground because she's so enraptured by the kiss. 

Unfortunately the footage of the Duckie and Andie ending is lost (according to Vogue), but it probably played out awkwardly because although they are great friends, you never get the same sense of sexual chemistry that Andie shares with Blane. It's a credit to Hughes' creativity for being able to come up with such a believable and heartfelt ending for Blane and Andie so quickly.