The Sixteen Candles Scene John Hughes Quickly Wrote To Get Paul Dooley On Board

John Hughes' "Sixteen Candles" is a beloved teen classic that follows a young girl (Hughes' muse Molly Ringwald) whose sweet sixteen turns sour when her entirely family forgets her birthday during preparations for her sister's wedding. While being relentlessly pursued by a randy geek (Anthony Michael Hall), Samantha pines for the dreamy senior Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling). "Sixteen Candles" has some problematic elements, such as the character of Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe) and a scene that makes light of date rape; Molly Ringwald even revisited the film through a post-#MeToo lens in an essay for The New Yorker. Despite that, though, the movie is still considered one of John Hughes' best films. 

"Sixteen Candles" is a broad comedy where the majority of the supporting characters are caricatures — especially Samantha's family. She has an annoying little brother, busybody grandparents, and a snippety mother. This did not appeal to actor Paul Dooley when he was originally approached to appear in the film as Samantha's father. Dooley tells the AV Club that it took some extra convincing for him to sign up for the movie: 

 "I [initially] turned down the movie because I was only in it for the first two or three minutes and the last two or three minutes. And then finally John Hughes, the writer-director, called me, and said, "I wrote a scene in the middle of a movie, just so you'll be in the movie." And I read it, and it was a good scene, and that became the scene that everybody remembers."

The scene that John Hughes quickly wrote for Paul Dooley occurs towards the end of the film, when Mr. Baker gives some fatherly advice about Samantha's romantic predicament. Even though it's brief, it managed to touch audiences' hearts for several key reasons.

A touching father-daughter exchange

The scene occurs late at night while Samantha is sleeping on the couch. Jim Baker sits beside his daughter and asks to be forgiven for forgetting her birthday. After sharing a loving embrace, Samantha starts crying and confesses her crush on Jake Ryan, a boy who will never love her because she's a dork and he's a handsome senior with a beautiful girlfriend. Her father attempts to console Samantha in the following exchange: 

Mr. Baker: Well, if it's any consolation, I love you. And if this guy can't see in you all the beautiful and wonderful things that I see, then he's got the problem.

Sam: I know, it just hurts.

Mr. Baker: That's why they call them crushes. If they were easy they'd call them something else.

Sam: If I was Ginny, I'd have this guy crawling on his knees.

Mr. Baker: Well, let me tell you something about Ginny. Now, I love her as much as I love you, but she's a different person. Sometimes I worry about her. You know when you're given things kind of easily, you don't always appreciate them. With you, I'm not worried. And when it happens to you Samantha, it'll be forever.

One of the biggest reasons this scene leaves such a lasting impression on audience members, especially young women, is that it is a compassionate heart-to-heart between a father and daughter. Through Dooley's hangdog expression and warm voice, girls either see their own caring father or the one they wish they had. In his AV Club interview, the actor reflects on the positive female audience response: 

"All the young girls love that scene. They say to me when they write to me or meet me on the street, 'I wish you were my dad.' [Laughs.] So that's a nice thing. I am a dad. I have four children and three grandchildren."

A sweet moment in a goofy comedy

"Sixteen Candles" is a very over-the-top and goofy comedy filled with horny teenagers, humiliating incidents, dopey family members, and a foreign exchange student's crazy hijinks. The late night discussion between Samantha and her father slows the film down for a bit and lets it breathe a little, providing a tender moment of respite in a truly chaotic film. 

Samantha thinks it's embarrassing to be "sitting in the dark with your Dad talking about your love life," but their late night chat is one of the sweetest parts of "Sixteen Candles." Paul Dooley's affectionate and humorous performance makes Mr. Baker feel comforting and familiar. It makes his parental role more nuanced, rather than just a birthday-forgetting villain. Written especially for Dooley, the father-daughter scene is a perfect and essential addition to "Sixteen Candles," bringing some genuine emotional layers to a silly coming-of-age story and cementing Paul Dooley as one of the most lovable movie dads of all time.