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32 years later, 16 things you didn’t know about '16 Candles'

Oh, sexy girlfriend! Today is the 32nd anniversary of the release of Sixteen Candles. That calls for a celebration. Maybe we get Jake Ryan to throw a party at his place. Rumor is his parents are out of town, plus if his girlfriend Caroline Mulford gets drunk again, maybe we can go through with that plan to lop off half her hair.

Seem far-fetched? Not to ‘80s fans. Released on May 4, 1984, Sixteen Candles was an affirmation of everything we wanted high school to be (but rarely got). Let’s face it: Did anyone in the movie - except maybe Samantha’s sister Ginny - have a truly bad time? (The jury is still out on Long Duk Dong, but he had some good times before the bad times. Ugh! Canine cologne!) Thank you, director John Hughes, for giving us a movie we’ll never forget.

Rather than paying a buck to see some underwear, let’s instead contemplate this list of 16 things you probably didn’t know about Sixteen Candles, according to

1. Michael Schoeffling, the actor playing Jake Ryan, was incredibly shy during his audition. But the producer cast him anyway because “he was so stunning and dreamy.” Some guys get all the breaks.

2. Here’s something mind-blowing. If Schoeffling hadn’t gotten the part of Jake, it might have gone to Viggo Mortensen, who also auditioned for the role.

2. Jim Carrey reportedly auditioned for the role of Farmer Ted, aka “The Geek.”

3. Speaking of “The Geek,” Anthony Michael Hall’s role gets different billing on various forms of the movie. On some VHS versions, he’s “The Geek.” On TV, he’s usually credited as “Farmer Ted.”

4. Remember Long Duk Dong? Actor Gedde Watanabe was 28 years old when he played that role.

5. Other actors were way past high school age as well. Haviland Morris (“Caroline”) was 25 and Michael Schoeffling was 24.

6. Always pay attention to license plates in John Hughes movies. There’s usually an insider joke to each of them. In Sixteen Candles, Samantha’s dad has a license plate on his car reading “V58.” That’s a reference to Vacation ’58, the short story that Hughes wrote for National Lampoon magazine upon which the Chevy Chase movie was based.

7. Likewise the license plate on Jake’s car is "21850,” which is Hughes’ birthday (Feb. 18, 1950).

8. Read the lunch menu in the cafeteria scene (in TV broadcast versions of the movie) to see some unique items for sale including, “meatball salad,” “cornaroos,” “gelatin balls,” “vitamin cobbler” and “canned brownies in light syrup.” Yum!

9. The scene where Samantha’s mom tearfully apologizes to her daughter for forgetting her birthday wasn’t in the original script. Carlin Glynn, who played the mom, insisted that Hughes add the scene because otherwise her character would seem heartless.

10. That scene where Caroline’s hair is cut off by her friends? Don’t worry, it was a wig. Haviland Morris is a natural redhead, but was wearing a blonde wig in the movie. And before you ask, yes, that’s a body double of Haviland in the shower.

11. If you think Molly Ringwald faced no competition for the role of Sam, that’s not entirely true. Both Ally Sheedy and Laura Dern were considered for the part.

12. Do you still hear gongs in your head whenever someone says Long Duk Dong? According to Gedde Watanabe, that sound effect wasn’t in the script. In an interview he would later say: “I think the gong was something they added. Somebody must've had a few beers."

13. The late film critic Roger Ebert loved Sixteen Candles, giving it three stars and writing: “This is a fresh and cheerful movie with a goofy sense of humor and a good ear for how teenagers talk. It doesn't hate its characters or condescend to them, the way a lot of teenage movies do; instead, it goes for human comedy and finds it in the everyday lives of the kids in its story.”

14. The Thompson Twins song If You Were Here plays at the end of the movie when Jake and Samantha finally are alone, celebrating with the birthday cake. In 2014, Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins wrote a new verse to the song before he toured on the Retro Futura Tour. The verse imagines the couple in the song meeting 30 years later and how the world didn’t turn out they way they planned.

15. Oh, and that birthday cake? It was made from cardboard.

16. Both Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall were actually 16 years old when the movie was released. How’s that for good karma?

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 10:10am]


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