There are a bunch of John Hughes films I feel a great comfort in watching after all these years. Teen films aren’t exactly a new genre in film, but it has been said that John Hughes is arguably the one who started the genre back in the ’80s. His movies connected with teenagers in ways so few films today don’t. The Breakfast Club is still a pop culture classic and is continuing to get discovered by a new generation of kids coming-of-age.
I may have been too young during the time a lot of his films featured notable members of the “Brat Pack,” but I consider a good chunk of John Hughes’ films a part of my childhood. Among those films in my top favorites list is Pretty In Pink.
Pretty In Pink stars Molly Ringwald, the most famous Brat Packer of all, as a smart and aspiring fashion designer named Andie who lives on the wrong side of the tracks. She attends a high school where the middle class and rich mix. The disparities between the haves and the have nots are acutely noticeable when the rich kids make up most of the popular kids at the high school.
Andie largely stays under the radar at school, but isn’t afraid to voice her opinions and beliefs towards something she thinks is unjust and unfair. Her primary best friend is Duckie (Jon Cryer), who is the jokester and laughing stock of the entire school.
Duckie is the opposite of Andie in that he doesn’t take school seriously and he makes it a point to be seen and heard, regardless of his unpopular and loser status among high school’s upper elite. Andie’s largely normal and uneventful climb to finishing senior year and seeing herself through to graduation day is suddenly shaken up when she locks eyes with the very handsome and wealthy Blane (Andrew McCarthy).
What sets Blane apart from his rich peers is he’s a nice guy who doesn’t see the point of the us vs. them mentality a lot of his spoiled friends adopt when they’re at school. Blane prefers to look past people’s financial status and name and truly get to know the person.
When Blane takes an interest in Andie, suddenly her views on all “richies” at her school slowly changes. Andie is even intrigued by the idea of there being rich people who aren’t like the others she and her friends deal with on a daily basis. Andie’s mutual interest in Blane unknowingly places her in the middle of a love triangle, where Duckie makes up the third part of it. The love triangle gets even more complicated when Duckie’s feelings for Andie are hurt and left mostly unsaid, and outside pressures from society and their peers threaten to tear apart the very things Andie and Blane are trying to rebel against.
The first time I watched the movie, I absolutely adored the entire film. The cast, the story, and the music (If You Leave by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark is still my number one favorite love song from the ’80s) has been a full package of sheer perfection. It sang straight through my romantic heart and I was pretty young at the time to really be the proper age to fully appreciate what was going on. I also had the hugest crush on Andrew McCarthy as Blane. Imagine my surprise when I find out much later in life and through the power of the Internet that (spoiler alert) Andie was never meant to be with Blane at the end of the film. Not originally anyway.
John Hughes originally shot the ending with Andie and Duckie being a couple and Blane living with the regret of having let his name and status in society eventually win out over love. When Hughes showed the ending to test audiences, people disliked Andie ending up with Duckie and the director went back to reshoot the ending with the ending as you see it now.
The more I kept digging into what the ending should have been when I made this discovery a long time ago, I stumbled upon some discussions and opinions about the change. Surprisingly, there’s a lot of people who were disappointed that the ending had been reshot. There were plenty of people who supported the idea of Andie and Duckie being a couple. When I showed a friend the movie for the first time a long time ago, he said he kind of wished Andie had ended up with her best friend as well.
I understand why many people may be more inclined to root for Duckie over Blane. Duckie is the sweet and loyal friend to Andie, who has loved her from afar for the longest time. Even if Andie does take Duckie for granted, he is unwavering in his devotion to her. He’s willing to make a fool of himself to make her laugh or profess his love to her through song (a wonderful scene where Jon Cryer lip syncs and dances his heart out at the record store in front of Molly Ringwald’s Andie and Annie Potts’ Iona to Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness), he’ll take a beating to defend Andie after being cruelly spoken about behind her back by Steff (James Spader), and in spite of having unrequited feelings for Andie, he’s there to be her last minute prom date when Blane bails on her. Duckie is a charming dork who would treat Andie well in a relationship because he worships the very ground she walks on. He also knows her better than anyone else because they’ve been friends for such a long time.
Blane, on the other hand, comes from a world entirely different from Andie’s. He doesn’t know what it’s like to struggle and have to work for everything you want. Blane drives a fancier car and lives in a nicer house and neighborhood than Andie does, which is a cause for panic when he tries to pick her up at her place for their first date.
There’s a clashing of worlds when both Blane and Andie try to bring each other into them and there’s a resistance from their peers in this attempt. They’re horribly out of place and not in their element, which can cause awkwardness and discomfort. In many ways, Blane is at a disadvantage of never quite truly understanding where Andie comes from. Duckie does understand because he comes from the same world as Andie. This rich vs. poor divide already seems to spell disaster for Blane and Andie’s budding romance.
Personally, I’ve watched the movie thousands of times and each time my views about how the ending should or shouldn’t have been remains the same––I love Andie and Blane ending up together. The Andie and Blane ending makes more sense to me compared to how John Hughes originally shot it with Andie and Duckie together. Andie is definitely not aware of how deep Duckie’s feelings go because she never really thought of her best friend in that way. Duckie would have finally admitted how he truly felt about her, but Blane swooped in and charmed Andie before he got his chance.
One of the most powerful scenes from the movie (and heart wrenchingly acted by Jon Cryer) that really expresses Duckie’s pent up frustration, anger, and hurt over losing Andie to Blane happens during the scene where he finds out she’s going out with Blane:
On the surface, it seems like Duckie is acting like an immature child, but it really masks the painful realization that she may never return his feelings in the same way he wants her to. The idea that all he’ll ever be to her is just the “best friend” hurts.
When things start going downhill between Andie and Blane, there isn’t a scene where Andie and Duckie have a heart-to-heart about everything that has happened between them and the things that have been said or were left unsaid. The prom scene just shows Andie and Duckie miraculously friends again after the contention over Blane nearly rips their relationship apart.
The shot of Andie and Duckie holding hands just before they enter the dance hall is supposed to imply that they’re “together,” if the viewers are supposed to think in terms of what the alternate ending really was. The only problem I have with this is the hand holding doesn’t really imply that they’re romantically involved. I saw it as two friends who will always be there for each other and have a deep mutual respect for each other. They’re taking a stand against all the haters and they don’t care what any of them think anymore. There doesn’t seem to be a natural progression from friendship to romance, where suddenly Andie realizes she’s in love with Duckie and not Blane.
Not once did I get this sense that Andie may have feelings for Duckie that she hasn’t realized throughout the entire movie. Clearly, at least for me, Andie’s heart is really with Blane. There’s a connection and chemistry there, but a lot of obstacles are standing in their way to truly be together. It felt natural for Andie and Blane to have their happy ending because Blane realized he loves her and nothing should ever stand in the way of that––not his family, friends, money, or status.
The movie is also pure teen romantic fantasy. Who doesn’t dream of the attractive popular guy/girl ending up with the unpopular guy/girl? The movie leaves you with a beautiful message of love surmounting any and all obstacles, especially when wealth and status is involved.
If the Andie and Duckie ending stayed in the film, I feel like it would have been forced and not truly genuine. It’s almost as if Andie settled on Duckie because things didn’t work out with Blane. If she had feelings for BOTH guys, then I would believe she would ultimately choose her best friend over the handsome popular guy. In my opinion, the ending as it is in the movie is the true and authentic ending based on how everything progresses in the film. One thing you have to at least give credit to John Hughes for, he made sure Duckie wasn’t too heartbroken over letting his first love go to be with the guy she really wanted.
Watched Pretty in Pink? How do you feel about Andie’s choice at the end of the movie? Duckie or Blane?