Sixteen Candles (1984)


Sixteen Candles (1984)
Written by John Hughes
Directed by John Hughes

#ThrowbackThursdays ~ Movies

It’s really human of you to listen to all my bullshit.” ~ Samantha Baker

Sixteen Candles is a 1984 American coming-of-age comedy film starring Molly Ringwald, Michael Schoeffling and Anthony Michael Hall. It was written and directed by John Hughes.


John Hughes had asked his agent for head shots of young actresses, and among those he received was that of Molly Ringwald. Inspired by it, he put it up over his desk and wrote the film just over a weekend with her specifically in mind for the lead role. For the male lead in the film, it had come down to Schoeffling and Viggo Mortensen.


Can you imagine Viggo as Jake Ryan?

For the part of Ted, Hughes saw a number of actors for the role:

Every single kid who came in to read for the part… did the whole, stereotyped high school nerd thing. You know – thick glasses, ball point pens in the pocket, white socks. But when Michael came in he played it straight, like a real human being. I knew right at that moment that I’d found my geek.”

Sixteen Candles was filmed primarily in and around the Chicago North Shore suburban communities of Skokie and Highland Park, Illinois during the summer of 1983, when leads Ringwald and Hall were 15 years old. Most of the exterior scenes and some of the interior scenes were filmed at Niles East High School, close to downtown Skokie, the setting for Hall’s driving the Rolls Royce. A cafeteria scene and a gym scene, were filmed at Niles North High School. The auto shop scene was filmed at Niles East High School in the auto shop. The Baker house is located in Evanston. The church, and parking lot where the final scenes take place are in Glencoe.


The first time I saw Sixteen Candles was at a movie theater on Catalina Island located in the old island casino. I loved Molly in it, and remember relating to the crushing on the unattainable boy, feeling emotional and awkward and vulnerable at a high school casual dance, and the kind of note passing between best friends where you confess things you’d be embarrassed to have anyone else see.

I know that the movie feels dated, and that there is much controversy over the representation of Long Duk Dong that is uncomfortable to watch now, but the teenage girl that still lives in my memory still relates to Samantha Baker. Being a sixteen year old girl is a rough and emotionally charged thing to be, but also really wonderful.

“Fresh breath’s a priority in my life.”

2 thoughts on “Sixteen Candles (1984)

  1. Hi! Just found your blog. I am a big John Hughes fan and I loved Sixteen Candles. I could not imagine anyone else as Jake Ryan. I googled the actor once and found he is a blacksmith or something. He will live on in my mind as Jake Ryan 🙂 I love movies, pop culture and entertainment so am looking forward to reading your archives. Just started following your blog 🙂

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