The L.A. of John Hughes' Some Kind of Wonderful, 30 Years Later

The L.A. of John Hughes' Some Kind of Wonderful, 30 Years Later

Though many of John Hughes’ films were love letters to his hometown of Chicago, often the city of Los Angeles would make cameos in his movies to double for locations in the Windy City. The Griswolds’ suburban Chicago home in National Lampoon’s Vacation actually is in Los Feliz. The police station where Jennifer Grey hooked up with Charlie Sheen in Ferris Bueller's Day Off is in downtown L.A. The entirety of Pretty in Pink was shot in L.A., though cues such as newspaper kiosks indicate it's set in the Chicago area.

However, in the middle of Hughes' prolific, Chicago-centric career, there is one L.A.-set movie that, while thematically similar to some of his other films, stands out, in part, because of the city where it takes place.

Some Kind of Wonderful, released on Feb. 27, 1987, builds upon the common Hughes theme of social class boundaries, present in films like 1985's The Breakfast Club and 1986's Pretty in Pink; the latter film, like Some Kind of Wonderful, was written and produced by Hughes but directed by Howard Deutch. The film pits high school student Keith (Eric Stoltz), an aspiring artist from the wrong side of the tracks, against the overwhelming odds of dating Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), the popular girl in school who hangs out with a group of rich kids in an effort to forget that she, too, comes from a blue-collar family.

L.A. is, arguably, the most appropriate American city in which to set a film like Some Kind of Wonderful. Take, for example, John Burroughs Middle School in the affluent Hancock Park neighborhood, where the district boundaries stretch from Doheny Drive to Western Avenue. In this case it's reasonable to suggest that kids who live in small apartment complexes could be attending the same public school as kids who live in $10 million homes.

Lea Thompson tells us, “I think that [L.A.] really did become a character in the movie and made it different. I speak to so many people about Some Kind of Wonderful, and a lot of them talk about how it seems different than the other John Hughes movies, and I think that might be part of it.”

The film shot in Los Angeles throughout the summer of 1986 but was centered in the Wilmington and San Pedro area. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Some Kind of Wonderful, we traveled back to almost all of the film’s locations and spoke with Deutch, Thompson, cinematographer Jan Kiesser and executive producer Ronald Colby about shooting the John Hughes production in L.A.

All photos by Jared Cowan except where noted. Follow Jared on Twitter at @JaredCowan1.


Though many of John Hughes’ films were love letters to his hometown of Chicago, often the city of Los Angeles would make cameos in his movies to double for locations in the Windy City. The Griswolds’ suburban Chicago home in National Lampoon’s Vacation actually is in Los Feliz. The police station where Jennifer Grey hooked up with Charlie Sheen in Ferris Bueller's Day Off is in downtown L.A. The entirety of Pretty in Pink was shot in L.A., though cues such as newspaper kiosks indicate it's set in the Chicago area.

However, in the middle of Hughes' prolific, Chicago-centric career, there is one L.A.-set movie that, while thematically similar to some of his other films, stands out, in part, because of the city where it takes place.

Some Kind of Wonderful, released on Feb. 27, 1987, builds upon the common Hughes theme of social class boundaries, present in films like 1985's The Breakfast Club and 1986's Pretty in Pink; the latter film, like Some Kind of Wonderful, was written and produced by Hughes but directed by Howard Deutch. The film pits high school student Keith (Eric Stoltz), an aspiring artist from the wrong side of the tracks, against the overwhelming odds of dating Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), the popular girl in school who hangs out with a group of rich kids in an effort to forget that she, too, comes from a blue-collar family.

L.A. is, arguably, the most appropriate American city in which to set a film like Some Kind of Wonderful. Take, for example, John Burroughs Middle School in the affluent Hancock Park neighborhood, where the district boundaries stretch from Doheny Drive to Western Avenue. In this case it's reasonable to suggest that kids who live in small apartment complexes could be attending the same public school as kids who live in $10 million homes.

Lea Thompson tells us, “I think that [L.A.] really did become a character in the movie and made it different. I speak to so many people about Some Kind of Wonderful, and a lot of them talk about how it seems different than the other John Hughes movies, and I think that might be part of it.”

The film shot in Los Angeles throughout the summer of 1986 but was centered in the Wilmington and San Pedro area. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Some Kind of Wonderful, we traveled back to almost all of the film’s locations and spoke with Deutch, Thompson, cinematographer Jan Kiesser and executive producer Ronald Colby about shooting the John Hughes production in L.A.

All photos by Jared Cowan except where noted. Follow Jared on Twitter at @JaredCowan1.

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