Friday, August 7, 2009

Willie, Hughes and the Crack of Hearts

I'm fairly certain that Willy DeVille and John Hughes never worked together, never hung out or even met.

They were of two distinct universes. Two distinct talents. Two distinct barbers.

They are forever joined now, having passed away on the same day, August 6th — DeVille at 55 and Hughes at 59.

And I have a soft spot in my heart for both.

My brothers turned me on to DeVille and his legendary band Mink DeVille. His great songs are too numerous to list — and, anyway, if you're even a little curious, you're already hunting and sampling and judging his stuff by now.

But Willy DeVille is in the McClatchyActsUpHall of Fame (if you haven't heard of this Hall, don't fret. I established it 45 seconds ago) for two movie moments:

1. The theme song (Storybook Love) to The Princess Bride.

2. The scene in The Pope of Greenwich Village where a pre-nutjob Mickey Rourke tries to re-woo a pre-nutjob Darryl Hannah and asks some (presumably pre-nutjob) neighborhood guy with a boombox to hit them with some romantic tunes so they can dance in the park. Just to Walk That Little Girl Home is the song — it is perfect and it works.

Bonus moment — I went to see him at a club in NYC — the name escapes me (Scotty Mac, help me out) — one of those shows where the headliner hits the stage around 12:30, 1am. He was eerie, translucent, unbelievably cool and the master of the gravelly, downtown wounded poet love song. Plus, I think he was on the nod. But since I was in my full-blown Jim Carroll fascination phase, I was down with Willy's heroin rap.

Fellahs — you want to get the woman in your life in the mood — a bottle of Pinot and a Willy DeVille mix.

You're welcome.

And thank you, Willy — whose cool was matched only by his talent.

Now, I know it was never really cool to dig John Hughes out loud — but I'm trying to come up with another screenwriter with a comparable volume of lines that get quoted. Help me out if I'm overlooking someone.

In the eight year span from 1983 to 1990, Hughes owned the harmless-mildly-subversive-comedy genre. Owned it. In that time period, he wrote (and you have been quoting ever since):

Mr. Mom
Sixteen Candles (also directed)
The Breakfast Club (also directed) featuring one of the great comic jackass performances of all time by the late great Paul Gleason.
European Vacation
Weird Science
(also directed)
Pretty in Pink
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
(also directed)
Some Kind of Wonderful
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
She's Having a Baby
(also directed)
The Great Outdoors
Uncle Buck
(also directed)

Be a movie snob if you must — but that list right there is unbelievable. Packed with great lines, memorable characters and indelible moments. All in eight years.

So leave a thankful moment for John Hughes — his movies have been very good to you.

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