John Candy’s career was tragically cut short by his untimely death. However, his twenty-two-year run is populated with more box office hits and cult classics than most actors aspire to in a lifetime!
A Man Known For His Talent And Bonhomie
John was well known to be one of the kindest actors in Hollywood, which makes total sense given the fact that he was born in Canada. Everyone who met him was instantly engaged by his good nature, cheerfulness, and geniality.
John Candy exuded positive energy in real life and on film, and he always managed to imbue his characters with a potent likeability that was inarguably contagious.
When his life was tragically cut short by a presumed heart attack on March 4th of 1994, the actor, then 43 years young, left us with one of the most rock-solid comedic filmographies of all time. Today, more than 71 titles, spanning television and film, are available for us to reconnect with this late great comedy giant.
Let us remember John Candy by going over his 7 greatest films from the golden years of comedy. Here are
The Best John Candy films from the 80s!
After having honed his skills and comedic timing in his native Canada, and after his eye-opening supporting roles in The Silent Partner, Lost and Found, and 1941, Candy was no longer a stranger to the American public. But it wasn’t until 1981’s Stripes that Candy became a household name.
Directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Warren Oates, and our beloved John Candy, Stripes is a comedy about a man who loses his job, his car, his girlfriend, and decides to voluntarily enlist in the army. His rebellious character and lack of discipline create an endless array of hilarious situations.
This military comedy romp is full of silly violence, nudity, and plenty of slapstick hijinks. John Candy plays Dewey Oxberger (“Ox Burger”), the least sociopathic member of the squad that gives the film its title.
Stripes did a lot for Candy’s career, and its commercial success catapulted Candy to the top of the 80s comedy ring.
One of Candy’s greatest virtues as an actor was the ability to play seemingly despicable characters of all types and imbue them with his personal good-nature and jovial spirit to the point that redeeming them in the eyes of the audience. And that is what made his role as Freddie Bauer so memorable.
Splash was expertly directed by Ron Howard, who was already on his way to becoming one of Hollywood’s most successful directors. John Candy delighted next to much bigger stars Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, and Eugene Levy.
Splash is a fantastical romantic comedy where Allen Bauer, played by Tom Hanks, is smitten with a beautiful mermaid, played by Hannah. However, while Hanks was going about typical rom-com business, it was Candy who was stealing the movie with such unforgettable scenes such as when he gets past a suspicious military guard by reciting Sweedish he learned from Sweedish nudie films!
Brewster’s Millions (1985)
Brewster’s Millions is a film produced by the great Lawrence Gordon and the renowned Joel Silver, directed by Walter Hill, by way of Universal Studios in 1985.
The film is based on the 1902 novel of the same name written by American novelist and playwright George Barr McCutcheon, and it is also the novel’s seventh, and funniest adaptation to hit the big screen.
Brewster’s Millions tells the tale of Brewster, played by the legendary Richard Pryor, a minor league baseball player, who inadvertently earns a wealthy relative’s good grace. When this relative dies, he leaves Brewster his entire multi-million dollar fortune.
However, there is one condition; Brewster must prove beyond doubt that he understands the true value of money and he must do so by spending 30 million dollars in a month.
The catch is that he cannot buy any real estate, he cannot keep anything he buys within that time frame, and he cannot tell anyone about it.
The result is one of the funniest and most memorable movies of the 80s.
Candy plays the role of Spike Nolan, Brewster’s best friend and business manager. Candy once again proved his mettle by standing on equal footing next to one of comedy’s greatest stars.
The scene where Brewster gets in trouble with the law and has to stand before an unsympathetic judge is pure comedy gold, due to Candy’s infectious laughter and razor-sharp comedic timing.
“How do you plead? Oh, guilty, but with a real good excuse. You’re going to laugh, I think everyone here will.”
And we did, John. Some of us are still laughing 35 years later.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Little Shop of Horrors likely needs no introduction by now. One of Hollywood’s first true cult hits, this film was based on the 1982 off-Broadway musical, which in turn was based on a 1960 film of the same name.
John Candy starred next to Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, Ellen Greene, and the aptly named Vincent Gardenia.
Candy took advantage of his enormous capabilities as a voice actor by playing Wink Wilkinson, a radio announcer with a hilarious pompadour haircut, host of Wink Wilkinson’s Weird World, the show that talks to wonderful people who bring in their weird things. In this case, talking venus fly trap plants.
If Star Wars defined a generation of Science Fiction films, 1987’s Spaceballs defined a generation of Comedy.
Spaceballs was basically a parody of such movies as Star Wars, The Planet of the Apes, The Wizard of Oz, and even First Blood, and The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Who can forget Lone Starr, President Skroob, Princess Vespa, the evil Dark Helmet (played by the ingenious Rick Moranis), Dot Matrix, Pizza the Hut, and of course, John Candy as Barf?
Barf, short for Barfolomew, is a half-man half-dog and is played with immense heart by John Candy as a sort of mix between a St. Bernard and Bon Jovi.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a film produced by Paramount Pictures film from 1987. It marks another collaboration between John Candy and John Hughes, as it was written, produced, and directed by the latter.
The movie follows Neal Page, an uptight executive visiting New York City on business, who meets an eccentric salesman named Del Griffith (played by Steve Martin) and misses his plane to Chicago as a result.
The two men could not be more different but destiny continuously forces them to be together. Two full days of adventures and misfortunes ensue as Neal desperately tries to make it home by Thanksgiving.
Plane, Trains, and Automobiles is a fantastic family comedy. The film is filled with hilarious histrionics and good-hearted moments.
While it is not the funniest movie of the year (Spaceballs came out in 1987), so many moments have stood the test of time, and stand next to the best Laurel and Hardy moments.
Uncle Buck (1989)
Uncle Buck is another classic film starring John Candy. Once again, the director is none other than the legendary John Hughes.
Uncle Buck tells the tale of the Russell family: Bob and Cindy, plus their three kids, Tia, Miles, and Maizy.
When the grandfather suffers a heart attack, the Russels have to return to town in a hurry to deal with the fallout. But, they can’t take the kids with them and, to their misfortune, the only person available to babysit is the family’s black sheep: good old Uncle Buck.
Uncle Buck is an irreverent and irresponsible bachelor, who is unable to keep a steady job or make any sound decisions in life. As a result, and as is to be expected, wild hijinks and shenanigans take place.
While some critics often point out that Uncle Buck is among Mr. Hughes’s weakest films, those of us who saw it in our youth have only fond memories of the movie’s many quote-worthy moments.
“Have you ever heard of a ritual killing?”