When John Hughes created Shermer, Illinois he based it on his hometown of Northbrook, and then set several films he made in the 1980′s at mythical “Shermer High School.” These films were all released within three years of each other, and were all filled with memorable young students to populate Shermer High’s sprawling patchwork campus. Since then, the Illinois locations composing this phantom locale have taken on a cinematic life of their own (much to the envy of real life towns looking to profit from film tourism). Yet before there was a Shermer High, there was Glenbrook North High School on Shermer Road in Northbrook. Not only did it appear in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but it was also the old alma mater of John Hughes himself. The famously media-shy Hughes mentioned this fact offhandedly – when Sloane walks toward Shermer (Glenbrook) High’s front steps to meet Bueller (in disguise) – during his commentary for the film’s 1999 DVD release. Though it was at Glenbrook North that Hughes accrued the pivotal experiences which built up Shermer High School in his mind, in Weird Science it’s Niles East High School in Skokie where two Shermer students suffer the torments which drive them to create their own dream girl. That film’s last scene introduces Shermer High’s newest supermodel gym teacher, and the jaw-dropping reaction from her students. Yet the most memorable interior section of Shermer High may be its library. The main setting for the Breakfast Club, where five students spend a Saturday in detention, was actually the gymnasium of Maine North High School in Des Plaines. Now, much has been made of Shermer students actually showing up for Saturday detention, the rarity of average-looking women on campus and the lack of a dependable opiate connection – or as Dogma drug dealer, Jay describes it: “all the honeys are top shelf, but all the dudes are whiny pussies… except for Judd Nelson. He was fucking harsh. But best of all, there was no one dealing.” One reason for this might be found in the effect a simple glimpse of panties has on a group of male students gathered within the Shermer High men’s room in Sixteen Candles. I mean, just look at their faces. They’re obviously thinking, “who the hell needs to smoke weed, when you’ve got yourself a sweet pair of polka-dot panties?” Anyway, both Niles North and East High Schools in Skokie, as well as New Trier High School in Winnetka, are all where Samantha Baker (owner of said-panties) goes to school in this first appearance by Shermer High. And while Jay and Silent Bob journey to Shermer in order to plunder the teenage utopia, the makers of the documentary, Don’t You Forget About Me trekked to Illinois in 2008 to rediscover John Hughes. The film reminds us that before his death in August, 2009, Hughes hadn’t directed a film since 1991. Over the subsequent decade, though, his screenplays had continued to make it to the screen, including the little-seen 1998 film, Reach The Rock – a dark echo of the Shermer High films, where a young man returns home to “Shermerville” haunted by his role in the death of a friend. The setting is the more grown-up detention hall of a jail cell – with school days now long passed for the protagonist, and Shermer High but a distant memory for the viewer.
Shermer High School, Illinois
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