First Draft of 'Breakfast Club' Script Unearthed at Shuttered Chicago High School

Kevin Polowy
·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
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John Hughes’s 1985 coming-of-age classic, ‘The Breakfast Club’ (Universal)

As far as excavations go, this is the movie memorabilia equivalent of a paleontologist digging up a rare dinosaur fossil. Staffers at Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, were cleaning out a file cabinet when they came across an early draft of the screenplay for John Hughes’s ‘80s teen classic The Breakfast Club.

As reported and photographed by Chicago Tribune’s Pioneer Press, the script was dated Sept. 21, 1983 and is labeled “First Draft Screenplay.” The movie didn’t go into production until March 28, 1984. The newspaper notes one obvious difference between this early version and the final shooting script: Molly Ringwald’s character is named Cathy Douglas on paper; she became Claire Standish in the film.

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(Photo: Jennifer Johnson/Pioneer Press)

Hughes, a native of nearby Northbrook on Chicago’s North Shore, filmed The Breakfast Club at the shuttered Main North High School, which was closed in 1981. The movie starred Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy as five high school archetypes (the beauty, brain, jock, rebel, and recluse, respectively) who famously bond over Saturday detention.

The Tribune points out other markings on the script that confirm its authenticity: The fact that “Reviewed and approved by Dr. Murphy” is etched on the manuscript’s cover. John Murphy was the district superintendent at the time, and thus had to sign off on the film’s content before allowing the production to take place in his school. (This also probably explains why the script ended up in a school filing cabinet in the first place.)

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(Photo: Jennifer Johnson/Pioneer Press)

Current superintendent Ken Wallace told the Tribune that “in the upper left corner [of the screenplay], there is what appears to be pizza grease.” No word on whether that came from a John Hughes slice, though.

Related: Banished From 'The Breakfast Club’: Actress Recalls the Burn of Getting Cut From John Hughes’s Film

The script was found among some other documents pertaining to the film’s production, including a rental contract between the studio, Universal, and the school district that set a fee of $48,000 and other correspondence that revealed the movie was almost titled Saturday Breakfast Club.

“We close with nothing but the fondest thoughts and memories of Universal Studios and 'The Breakfast Club,’” Donald Stillwaugh, a school district coordinator wrote in one letter discovered. “We trust the film will be a huge success.”

Mr. Stillwaugh clearly knew what he was talking about. The Breakfast Club, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in February, is considered one of the best high school films ever made.

You can read the full story on the Chicago Tribune.