During the parade several of the people seen dancing (including the construction worker and the window washer) originally had nothing to do with the film. They were simply dancing to the music being played, and John Hughes found it so humorous, that he told the camera operators to record it.
Even though they played siblings, Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey would later become engaged after this movie. Tragically, approximately a year later, after Broderick finished filming Biloxi Blues (1988), and before Grey's premier for Dirty Dancing (1987), the couple was involved in a fatal crash in Ireland, where the passengers of the other vehicle, a mother and daughter, died in the accident.
The idea of a sequel had gone around for years, with Ferris in college, or on the job somewhere, but the idea was dropped. Matthew Broderick felt that the film didn't need a sequel, that this film was about a specific time and place that we'd all like to revisit, and didn't need updating.
After working together on Weird Science (1985), John Hughes offered Bill Paxton the role of the garage attendant. However, Paxton turned it down, because he felt the role was too small. He admitted that he regretted turning it down, because Hughes never offered him a role again.
In 2010, Edie McClurg told Vanity Fair Magazine, that her character's hairdo should be from the 1960s, "because Grace felt she looked best in the 1960s, and kept her look from that era." However, the women's hairdresser on the set had mainly been hired to blow out Mia Sara's long, straight hair, and didn't know how to set the big 1960s hairstyles, so McClurg teased, set, and styled her own character's hair. Once she arrived on the set, John Hughes looked at her hairstyle and the first thing he said was, "How many pencils do you think you can fit in that hair?" They tested it with one pencil, then two and three, but the fourth one fell out, so that was the origin of Grace's first scene in the movie, in which she pulls several lost pencils out of her hair.
Mia Sara beat Molly Ringwald to the role of Sloane Peterson because, according to John Hughes, she had elegance. According to Ringwald, "John wouldn't let me do it. He said that the part wasn't big enough for me."
Ben Stein says he got the role of Bueller's Economics teacher through six degrees of separation. "Richard Nixon introduced me to a man named Bill Safire, who's a New York Times columnist. He introduced me to a guy, who's an executive at Warner Brothers. He introduced me to a guy, who's a Casting Director. He introduced me to John Hughes. John Hughes and I are among the only Republicans in the picture business, and John Hughes put me in the movie", Stein said. Hughes said that Stein was an easy and early choice for the role of the teacher: "He wasn't a professional actor. He had a flat voice, he looked like a teacher."
According to the Inside Story (1986) documentary, Charlie Sheen's character's name is actually Garth Volbeck. There was going to be a whole backstory to his character and family. It was also revealed that the Volbeck's was the family, to whom Ferris' mom was showing the house, in her job as a realtor. If you look closely, the tow truck that towed Rooney's car was from Volbeck's Wrecking Service. Also, a deleted backstory shows that Ferris and Garth were friends in the eighth grade. Garth's family's pretty messed up, and Ferris tried to help him, and be his friend, but Garth eventually dropped out of high school and wound up in the police station next to Jeannie. That's why Ferris is so intent on giving Cameron a good time. He blames himself for not helping Garth enough when he could.
John Hughes personally designed Ferris' bedroom, mirrored mostly on his own bedroom when he was in high school. Hughes said that the room was a disorganized series of pop references and other things, because it would represent Ferris' mind.
Most of the license plates are all abbreviations for titles of films by John Hughes. Katie's = VCTN (National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)); Jeannie's = TBC (The Breakfast Club (1985)); Tom's = MMOM (Mr. Mom (1983)); Rooney's = 4FBDO (Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)). The exception is Cameron's father's Ferrari (seen when Ferris first pulls out of the garage), the license plate of which reads NRVOUS.
First Lady Barbara Bush paraphrased the film in her 1990 commencement address at Wellesley College: "Find the joy in life, because as Ferris Bueller said on his day off, 'Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!'" Responding to the audience's enthusiastic applause, she added, "I'm not going to tell George, ya clapped more for Ferris, than ya clapped for George."
The line Ferris says in the bathroom at the French restaurant about Cameron's house being very pretty, and very cold, was originally supposed to be said by Allison (Ally Sheedy) in The Breakfast Club (1985), regarding her home life.
The parade scene took multiple days of filming; Matthew Broderick spent some time practicing the dance moves. "I was very scared", Broderick said. "Fortunately, the sequence was carefully choreographed beforehand. We worked out all the moves by rehearsing in a little studio. It was shot on two Saturdays in the heart of downtown Chicago. The first day was during a real parade, and John got some very long shots. Then radio stations carried announcements inviting people to take part in a John Hughes movie. The word got around fast, and ten thousand people showed up. For the final shot, I turned around and saw a river of people. I put my hands up at the end of the number and heard this huge roar. I can understand how rock stars feel. That kind of reaction feeds you."
Mia Sara surprised John Hughes when she auditioned for the role of Sloane Peterson. "It was funny. He didn't know how old I was, and said he wanted an older girl to play the seventeen-year-old. He said it would take someone older to give her the kind of dignity she needed. He almost fell out of his chair when I told him I was only eighteen."
The outfit Ferris is wearing (hat, sunglasses, and trench coat) when he picks up Sloane from school, can be seen on a mannequin in his room, behind his door, as his parents leave his room at the beginning of the movie to go to work.
The bus scene that plays during the ending credits was a scene cut from the movie. It was meant to take place after Jeanie announced that she called the Police, and Rooney had to find a place to hide. This explains why the sky isn't dark, and why a bus is taking students home at 6:00 p.m.
Ben Stein was exceptionally moved by the film, calling it "the most life-affirming movie possibly of the entire post-war period." "This is to comedies what Gone with the Wind (1939) is to epics", Stein added. "It will never die, because it responds to, and calls forth such human emotions. It isn't dirty. There's nothing mean-spirited about it. There's nothing sneering or sniggering about it. It's just wholesome. We want to be free. We want to have a good time. We know we're not going to be able to all our lives. We know we're going to have to buckle down and work. We know we're going to have to eventually become family men and women, and have responsibilities and pay our bills. But just give us a couple of good days that we can look back on."
Polly Noonan, who plays the girl Rooney sits next to on the bus, wore glasses that were specially made by the Prop Department. The lenses distorted her vision so much, that they made her nauseous. Also, the glasses were so heavy, that she had to hold her head in a certain position to keep them from falling down.
Alan Ruck, then twenty-nine, worried about the age difference. "I was worried that I'd be ten years out of step, and I wouldn't know anything about what was cool, what was hip, all that junk. But when I was going to high school, I didn't know any of that stuff then, either. So I just thought, well, hell, I'll just be me. The character, he's such a loner that he really wouldn't give a damn about that stuff anyway. He'd feel guilty that he didn't know it, but that's it." Ruck wasn't surprised to find himself cast young. "No, because, really, when I was eighteen, I sort of looked twelve", he said. "Maybe it's a genetic imbalance."
The text that appears on the screen when Ferris is explaining how to fake being sick to his parents was added later, because John Hughes thought the scene was too flat, and not funny enough (according to him in the DVD Commentary).
The final scene in the garage was shot in early fall, so each of the leaves on all the trees outside had to be hand-painted green every morning before shooting. In the shot looking up from the wreck at the three friends, the yellow tree with most of its upper leaves gone can be seen reflected in the window.
According to John Hughes, Cameron was based, in large part, on a friend of his in high school. "He was sort of a lost person. His family neglected him, so he took that as license to really pamper himself. When he was legitimately sick, he actually felt good, because it was difficult and tiring to have to invent diseases, but when he actually had something, he was relaxed."
Despite his frequent absences, Ferris is actually an excellent student. During the scene where Mr. Rooney calls Ferris' mother to report on Ferris' absences, his transcript is shown on a computer screen. For his Senior year, Ferris is enrolled in English Composition, Calculus, Chemistry, Gym, Computer Science, Utopian Society, and European History, attaining an A, A-, A, A-, A, A, B+ respectively in the previous semester. This makes his GPA 3.814. By skipping school, Ferris misses a test on European socialism for European History, his "worst" subject.
Several key moments in the movie were created in the editing room: Jeanie kicking Rooney three times in the face (when there was in fact only one kick filmed); Ferris and Sloane's kiss in front of Rooney was originally just a brief kiss, but was later edited into the long kiss seen on film.
Deleted scenes: - Ferris asks his dad on the phone about bonds his father purchased when he was born, he then takes one of them from a shoebox in his father's closet, cashes it at the bank with his girlfriend (telling the hard-of-hearing teller they are pregnant with a Jeep), and uses the money to pay for his day off. It was removed, because it made Ferris look like a thief rather than a lovable rogue. - Ferris orders something in French on the menu, and after everyone at the table tastes it, he is informed by the snooty waiter that he ordered "sweetbreads", which is a French dish made from the thymus gland. It was removed, because it showed the waiter getting the better of Ferris, but later in the movie, when Ferris is recounting the day to Cameron, he remarks "we ate pancreas".
The modernist house of Cameron Frye is located at 370 Beech Street, Highland Park, Illinois, known as "Ben Rose House" designed by architects A. James Speyer, who designed the main building in 1954, and David Haid, who designed the pavilion in 1974, and once owned by Photographer Ben Rose. Ben Rose had a car collection in the pavilion, as Cameron's father had the Ferrari 250 GT California in the same pavilion in the movie. According to Lake Forest College Art Professor Franz Shulze, during the filming of the scene where the Ferrari crashes out of the window, Haid explained to John Hughes that he could prevent the car from damaging the rest of the pavilion. Haid fixed connections in the wall, and the building remained intact. Haid said to Hughes afterward, "You owe me twenty-five thousand dollars", which Hughes paid. Other scenes were shot in Chicago, River Forest, Oak Park, Northbrook, Highland Park, Glencoe, Winnetka, Lake Forest, and Long Beach, California. After Ben Rose's death in 2009, the house came up for sale, and was sold in 2014.
The Cubs game depicted in the movie that Ferris and his friends attend was an actual game played against the Atlanta Braves on June 5, 1985, based on research by Larry Granillo published in his Wezen-ball column at baseballprospectus.com on February 6, 2011.
Alan Ruck and Matthew Broderick previously acted together in the Broadway production of Biloxi Blues. Cameron's Mr. Peterson voice was an in-joke imitation of their former Director Gene Saks. Ruck felt at ease working with Broderick, often crashing in his trailer. "We didn't have to invent an instant friendship like you often have to do in a movie", said Ruck. "We were friends."
John Hughes personally selected the songs for the film. He wanted them to be somewhat obscure to the typical moviegoing audience, feeling that he wanted everything about the film to feel new. For example, the song heard when the Ferrari is revealed for the first time (and during the final scene) is "Oh Yeah" by Swiss band Yello. The song was not a hit after its first release, but its inclusion in this movie rapidly popularized it, prompting a re-release. It has since been used in dozens of other movies and series, often in scenes featuring a desirable object or person.
The song "Danke Schoen" is heard four times in the movie; When Ferris sings it in the shower, when Ed Rooney sings it after ringing the Buellers' doorbell, when Ferris lip-syncs the Wayne Newton version during the parade, and when Jeanie sings it while walking down the stairs at the police station.
When Ferris hacks into the school's computer to change the number of absences he had, it is a subtle nod to WarGames (1983), when Matthew Broderick hacks into the school's computer to change his grades.
John Hughes said that he had Matthew Broderick in mind when he wrote the screenplay, saying Broderick was the only actor, of whom he could think, could pull off the role, calling him clever and charming. "Certain guys would have played Ferris, and you would have thought, 'Where's my wallet?'" Hughes said. "I had to have that look. That charm had to come through. Jimmy Stewart could have played Ferris at fifteen...I needed Matthew."
In the scene where the kids are exploring the art museum, the music playing is an enhanced instrumental version of "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" by the Dream Academy (covering The Smiths' original, which appears in "Pretty In Pink".)
Early drafts had the Ferris family having younger siblings. When it came time to edit, the final draft actually has evidence that Ferris in fact does have younger siblings, such as drawings on the fridge, and a family photo seen in his dad's office.
During the scene where Rooney fights with the intercom at Ferris' house, there is a shot of the kitchen. On the refrigerator in that shot is a drawing of John Hughes, done by his son, who was six at the time.
In the scene where Sloane is sitting in the taxi with Ferris and Cameron in the floor, Ferris' dad is in a taxi next to them reading the newspaper. As the scene ends you can see the headline "Community Rallies Around Sick Youth", but the wording in the actual article indicates that it was about a Chicago policeman who killed himself.
The yellow and red insignia on Ferris' beret is that of the U.S. Army's 32nd Armored Regiment; the motto at the bottom, illegible in the film, reads "Victory or Death". This was Elvis Presley's unit when he was in the Army, and in G.I. Blues (1960).
According to Matthew Broderick, Ferris singing "Danke Schoen" in the shower was his idea. "Although it's only because of the brilliance of John's deciding that I should sing 'Danke Schoen' on the float in the parade. I had never heard the song before. I was learning it for the parade scene. So we're doing the shower scene, and I thought, 'Well, I can do a little rehearsal", and I did something with my hair to make that Mohawk, and you know what good directors do? They say, 'Stop! Wait till we roll", and John put that stuff in."
At one point in the film, there was a line that Ferris was going to say, "Come next year, I'll be the first kid to ride on the Space Shuttle." It was even featured in the preview for theaters. However, less then five months before the film's release on January 28, 1986, the Challenger exploded seventy-three seconds after launch, due to an O-ring failure in the right SRB, resulting in the deaths of all seven aboard, including New Hampshire school teacher Christa McAuliffe. Because of this, John Hughes had the preview recalled from theaters, and the line was edited out of the final film.
Matthew Broderick's dance moves were choreographed by Kenny Ortega (later, of Dirty Dancing (1987) fame). Much of it had to be scrapped though, as Broderick had injured his knee badly during the scenes of running through neighbors' backyards. "I was pretty sore", Broderick said. "I got well enough to do what you see in the parade there, but I couldn't do most of Kenny Ortega's knee spins and things like that, that we had worked on. When we did shoot it, we had all this choreography, and I remember John would yell with a megaphone, 'Okay, do it again, but don't do any of the choreography', because he wanted it to be a total mess." "Danke Schoen" was somewhat choreographed but for "Twist and Shout", Broderick said, "we were just making everything up". John Hughes explained that much of the scene was spontaneously filmed. "It just happened that this was an actual parade, into which we put our, unbeknownst to anybody, all the people on the reviewing stand. Nobody knew what it was, including the Governor."
While Sir Paul McCartney admitted that he liked the movie, he personally disliked the "Twist and Shout" sequence for its inclusion of brass instruments. Upon hearing McCartney's reaction, John Hughes felt bad for "offend(ing) a Beatle. But it wasn't really part of the song. We saw a band, and we needed to hear the instruments."
The restaurant, where Ferris and company go to eat, is the same one Jake and Elwood terrorized in The Blues Brothers (1980). It is also the same restaurant from St. Elmo's Fire (1985), where Kirby waits for Dale.
According to John Hughes, the scene at the Art Institute of Chicago was "a self-indulgent scene of mine, which was a place of refuge for me, I went there quite a bit, I loved it. I knew all the paintings, the building. This was a chance for me to go back into this building and show the paintings that were my favorite." The museum had not been shot in, until the producers of the film approached them. "I remember Hughes saying, 'There are going to be more works of art in this movie than there have ever been before,'" recalled Jennifer Grey.
Although one of the key scenes in the film has Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron enjoying a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, John Hughes stated on the DVD commentary, that he was not a Cubs fan. The scene was set there, because of its iconic status, and due to the Chicago White Sox rarely playing day games in 1985 during production.
Jeffrey Jones recalled, "My part was actually quite small in the script, but what seemed to be the important part to me was that I was the only one who wasn't swept along by Ferris. So I was the only one in opposition, which presented a lot of opportunities, some of which weren't even in the script or were expanded on. John was receptive to anything I had to offer, and indeed got ideas along the way himself. So that was fun, working with him. Hughes told me at the time, and I thought he was just blowing his own horn, he said, 'You are going to be known for this for the rest of your life', and I thought, 'Sure'... but he was right."
The Ferrari was originally supposed to smash through the window of the garage and land in the backyard. It overshot its mark, however, and hit a fence that was dividing the house from the yard next door.
There is a theory circulating the internet that Ferris is just a figment of Cameron's mind. The theory states that although Cameron wants to be more adventurous and rebellious, he is afraid to, and so he creates Ferris. Ferris is all the things that Cameron is not. The theory also states that Ferris becomes a creation Cameron uses to finally assert himself against his father's cruelty and, more importantly, his own hypercritical conscience.
The woman playing the accordion on the parade float was a local named Vlasta Krsek. She gained a degree of notoriety from the film, even appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962). On the show she played and sang the song "Twist and Shout", which was one of the songs from that famous scene.
John Hughes intended the movie to be more focused on the characters rather than the plot. "I know how the movie begins, I know how it ends", said Hughes. "I don't ever know the rest, but that doesn't seem to matter. It's not the events that are important, it's the characters going through the events. Therefore, I make them as full and real as I can. This time around, I wanted to create a character who could handle everyone and everything."
According to Alan Ruck, the reason Cameron wears a Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings jersey, is because Cameron had a grandfather in Detroit, whom he had a great relationship with, that used to take him to Red Wings games.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(John Hughes): [Shermer]: When Jeanie is in the police station, you see a quick shot of the chest of a police officer including his badge which identifies him as a Police Officer in the town of Shermer.
After the girl in the arcade spits her soda on Ed Rooney, a video game sound effect is heard in the background. Appropriately enough, it's the sound effect that denotes when a player has lost a life in Puckman (1980).
When Ferris picks up Sloane from school, they are standing in front of the entrance to the theater of Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois, John Hughes' alma mater. They then drive the car past the high school's soccer and baseball fields.
The scenes shot at Cameron's house began in September 1985, and finished in October of that year. The scene where the Ferrari was crashed, was shot in mid-October. In order to have continuity, and depict the garage scenes as the end of the school year, all of the leaves on the nearby trees were painted green. There is one shot after the Ferrari goes through the glass, and the camera is down in the ravine looking up at the three standing in the garage looking down through the missing window. In the pane of glass next to them, you can see reflections of distant trees which are yellow and orange, as the fall colors were in full force by the time the scene was shot.
Cameron is wearing a Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings jersey. Howe was famous for playing professionally until he was in his early 50s, from 1946 until his retirement in 1980. Howe passed away June 10, 2016, at the age of eighty-eight.
Although Charlie Sheen used tricks, such as sleep deprivation to look the part of his character thirty years ago, he did not feel it necessary to alter his appearance or personality to play the role in the recent The Goldbergs (2013)' homage to "Ferris Bueller" in the "Barry's Day Off" episode.
Kristy Swanson was originally cast in the small role of the girl who talks on the phone with Ferris in the school hall. However, the role was re-cast with Kristin Graziano, because John Hughes felt it was better to film the scene in Chicago. Hughes had liked Swanson so much, though, that he offered her the part of the Economics student, which was shot in Los Angeles.
Cameron wearing a Detroit Red Wings hockey jersey, is actually an insight to his character. For the last twenty years or so, the Red Wings have been a top team in the NHL. However, back during the time this film was made, the Red Wings were the worst in the league with an embarrassing win and loss record. Cameron wore a Red Wings jersey to show that not only is the character "a lovable loser down on his luck", but that even the team he supports, are losers. The Red Wings have also been long time rivals of the Chicago Blackhawks until the Red Wings moved to the Eastern Conference.
John Hughes had wanted to film a scene from the script where Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron go to a strip club. Paramount executives told him there were only so many shooting days left, so the scene was scrapped.
DIRECTOR CAMEO (John Hughes): Can be seen in a tiny cameo, in one of the early Chicago downtown montage sequences, climbing literally across traffic, from right to left of screen, wearing a light blue jacket and big "'80s hairdo" (from the DVD director's commentary).
The name of the detective, to whom Katie Bueller (Cindy Pickett) talks, when picking up Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), is Stephen Lim (the name can be seen on the door when Katie exits his office.) This is also the name of First Assistant Director Stephen Lim.
The ska-pop group Save Ferris got their name from the words on the water tower in this movie, a favorite of theirs. The band Rooney is named after the principal in the movie, Ed Rooney. They were called the Ed Rooney Band before dropping it to just Rooney.
The passage that Ed Rooney quotes when he is trying to console Sloane ("man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live...") is the "First Anthem" for the Burial of the Dead from the Book of Common Prayer produced by the Anglican church. The anthem is based on Job 14:1-2.
A theory arose that Ferris doesn't actually exist and he is just a more outgoing, brave alter-ego of Cameron that he made up to deal with his father. This begs the question: Was the whole day just Cameron day dreaming in his bed while sick?
As he was writing the film in 1985, John Hughes kept track of his progress in a spiral-bound logbook. He noted that the basic storyline was developed on February 25. It was successfully pitched the following day to Paramount Studios chief Ned Tanen. Tanen was intrigued by the concept, but wary that the Writers Guild of America was hours away from picketing the studio.
No official soundtrack was ever released for the film, as John Hughes felt the songs would not work well together as a continuous album. However, according to an interview with Lollipop Magazine, Hughes noted that he had sent one hundred thousand seven-inch vinyl singles containing two songs featured in the film to members of his fan mailing list.
The Ferrari in the movie, was a replica of a Ferrari 250GT California Spyder (only one hundred four of which were actually produced). This version of Ferrari's already famous 250 series was designed specifically for the American market, featuring only two seats, a convertible top and more horsepower than in the standard European version.
During the scene at the Sears tower, Ferris says it's the world's tallest building. However, at the time of filming, the Sears tower was not the tallest building in the world, that title went to the CN tower in Toronto, Ontario.
John Hughes had originally wanted to film the Wrigley Field scene at the baseball game at Comiskey Park, as Hughes was a Chicago White Sox fan. However, due to time constraints, the location was moved to Wrigley Field at the last minute.
When the trio is back at Cameron's house, attempting to push the mileage back, nearly four minutes pass between Ferris saying, "We'll have to crack open the odometer, and roll it back by hand", and after the Ferrari speeds through the glass to the foliage down below when Ferris says "You killed the car." During Cameron's rant about his problems with his father, neither Sloane nor Ferris say anything or make any sort of noise. Neither makes a sound, such as a scream, even when the car goes out of the window.
Apparently, it is just not Ferris and his pals that skip school. Two girls who look the same age as Ferris are seen playing an arcade game at a restaurant. If you look carefully during the baseball match, a blonde haired boy who looks no more than eight-years-old is behind Ferris and his pals.
During the economics class, a girl is wearing a green and gold lettermans jacket while another boy is wearing a black and gold lettermans jacket. And outside in the hallway by the phone booth a boy is wearing a green and white lettermans jacket.
Both Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen respectively had guest roles in the long running sitcom Friends (1994) (TV Series). Jennifer Grey appeared in 1 show as Mindy and Charlie Sheen appeared in 1 show as Ryan.
Director Cameo: Hughes finger pressed down on the button on the phone, when Cameron is in bed when the audience first meets him. According to Hughes, no one could do it dramatically, so he did it himself.
John Hughes: [The Beatles] Ferris lip-syncs The Beatles' cover of "Twist and Shout". He quotes John Lennon's song "God" ("I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.") Cameron's Detroit Red Wings jersey references Paul McCartney and Wings, as his Epiphone Texan acoustic guitar (which he played on The Beatles' "Yesterday") sported a Detroit Red Wings sticker from the mid-1970s onward. During filming, Hughes "listened to The White Album every single day for fifty-six days".
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
According to Alan Ruck (Cameron) that in version of what happened after the movie ends, Cameron's father comes home and kills him by throwing him out of the window and that Ferris and Sloane got married and then divorced.
Cameron's shirts are meaningful in 2 scenes. He is wearing a medic's shirt while catatonic, and when they are running the Ferrari in reverse, he is wearing an inside out Airborne shirt....the logo is seen in reverse, and the Ferrari goes airborne while in reverse.
In the scene by the swimming pool where Alan Ruck's character Cameron finally snaps out of his catatonic state and embraces the situation, Matthew Broderick throwing Mia Sara into pool after pushing Cameron in was unscripted. Her screams of surprise were genuine and the playful nature of the moment convinced John Hughes to include the shot in the final cut of the film.