Ferris Bueller Curiosities

According to my esitmation, I have seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off somewhere between 300-400 times in my life (yes, I'm serious). In fact, during the summer of 1986 or 1987, there were very few days that I did not watch it at least once. I can't pinpoint one specific reason that this movie appeals to me so much -- but it has always been one of my favorites.

As I have watched Ferris Bueller throughout the years, there are many things that have stuck with me -- some more significant than others. For example, Ferris' comment at the beginning and the end of the movie: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." This line has been quoted countless times over the past few decades (and even misquoted once by a First Lady) almost to the point of becoming somewhat cliche. At the same time though, the truth behind this quote still helps to put life in persepective for me when I feel the days passing me by.

On the other hand, less significant things have stuck in my mind over the years. When I was a kid, I was watching this movie once with my Aunt Louise. After Grace says to Mr. Rooney, "Oh, Ed. You sounded like Dirty Harry just then," Mr. Rooney responds with a slight smirk. At that point, my aunt said to me something along the lines of "He kind of liked that a little bit." To this day, everytime I see this part of the movie, I still think "He kind of liked that a little bit."

During the spring of my senior year in high school, my best friend and I decided that our own Ferris Bueller day was in order. While we did cut a few corners such as having our parents excuse us from school, we did head to the city (St. Louis) for a baseball game and a day of freedom from high school (May 12, 1994 - Cubs over the Cardinals on a 9th inning home run from Shawon Dunston).


Several years later, I had completed my college degree and was working as a high school social studies teacher. Always trying to find new ways to keep the attention of my students, I offered up a challenge when it came time to take the course final. Each student was allowed to bring in one question about Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If the class could stump me on 20% or more of their questions, they would be allowed a cheat sheet when they took their final. In the four semesters I worked at that school, my students were never allowed a cheat sheet.

Thanks to multiple sources on the internet, I have read about several mistakes and inaccuracies found in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Some people have picked apart the day minute by minute and claim that the places Ferris visited in the film would be impossible to go to all in the timeframe of one school day. Others, however, have taken note of visual inaccuracies and curiosities in the movie. Below are screenshots as evidence of several of this interesting observances.


First, any fan of Ferris Bueller's Day Off knows that "so far this semester, [Ferris] has been absent nine times." But how about Ferris' daily schedule at school? How about his home phone number? What kind of a student was Ferris? While these things were never directly discussed in the movie, pausing and zooming in on a few scenes in the film can provide viewers with all of this information.


A close-up on the screen during the scenes above tells a great deal about Ferris Bueller including his class schedule, home telephone number, and school grades. Below is the information seen on the computer screens:

This information reveals that...

...Ferris is a solid student (either that or he has changed his grades to make it appear so).
...his school is on a tri-mester schedule as well as a somewhat modified block daily schedule.

At the same time, though, it creates a question in the timeline of the movie. While attending an afternoon game at Wrigley Field, Ferris suggests that they should be in gym class which lines up with his class schedule...but...early in the day, Ferris' name is called by the economics teacher played by Ben Stein. According to his schedule, Ferris does not have Econ at all -- let alone as a class in the morning.


Twice in the film, we see the same boom box used as a prop. The girl following Jeannie down the hall carries the same radio [00:12:13] used later by Ferris and his friends [01:15:25].



Also in the hallway at Shermer High School, a quick eye will see a smaller students just over Jeannie's right shoulder apparently being bullied between classes [00:12:10].


As Ferris prepares his bedroom for his absence in case anyone were to check in on him during the day, he makes some adjustments to the levels on his stereo [00:03:57] in order to control the volume of his "snoring". Only a few seconds later [00:03:58] as the camera angle changes, the controls have magically returned to their original settings.



This next one is hard to pick up on, but once you see it, you'll notice it every time you watch the movie from now on. As Ferris talks with the freshman at school [00:12:44], a small rectangular box can be seen just to the left of the keyboard. The shot alternates from Ferris' bedroom to the school payphone and seven seconds later [00:12:53], the box is gone. Changing shots a few more times, another eight seconds passes [00:13:01] and the box is back but is now laying on its side.



Again, another one you may never notice unless it's pointed out to you. During the scene where Ferris is talking on the phone with Cameron, there is a Pepsi can sitting inches away from the keyboard and a glass behind Ferris' hand [00:15:23]. Seconds later, the Pepsi can is moved further back on the desk [00:16:06] having never been touched by Ferris.



Looking at the reflection on the windows outside the school as Mr. Rooney comforts Sloan, a sky full of puffy white clouds can be seen [00:28:50]. The weather in Chicago must change quickly because less than a minute later, when Ferris arrives posing as Sloan's father, the clouds are flat and graying [00:29:28].



I'm guessing a baseball fan noticed this next one. Ferris scores some pretty nice seats off the left field line at Wrigley Field for an afternoon Cubs game. The game is on the TV in the pizza parlor and the foul ball hit to Ferris goes over the heads of two pitchers warming up in the Chicago bullpen [00:49:30]. As the scene cuts to Wrigley Field, the bullpen is empty [00:49:57].



When Mr. Rooney first arrives at the Bueller home, his car is parked six inches or so from the curb [00:50:57]. Later, although Mr. Rooney has not returned to his car, the officer places a ticket on the car which is visibly closer to the curb [01:08:27].



With the Ferrari being a pretty significant part of the Ferris Bueller plot, I feel like this mistake is a pretty big one. You can see that as the garage attendants speed off in the Ferrari [00:54:48], the speedometer is divided into increments of 10 MPH. Later on, as Ferris starts the car when they pick it up from the garage [01:09:28], the speedometer is in increments of 20 MPH.



During the scene where Ferris appears on the parade float, Cameron and Sloan approach the float in order to keep Ferris out of the public eye. In the street, they are immediately met by a police officer wearing a jacket [01:01:33]. Seconds later, as the camera angle changes to an overhead shot [01:01:39], the police officer is no longer wearing his jacket.



If movie extras are paid based on their ability to blend into a scene, I'm guessing the girl in the white (bottom left of the screen) during the scene below didn't make much money. As Cameron and Sloan walk along pondering their futures, an extra walks behind them and leaves the shot [01:02:23]. Within seconds the camera catches up ad she realizes she's still in the shot [01:02:28]. In somewhat of a hurry, she quickly leaves the picture once again [01:02:30].



Relaxing in a hot tub [01:15:25], Ferris' hair is parted and dry. Seconds later [01:15:40], it is wet and brushed back.



Another careless oversight on the part of the movie editors. Watch as Cameron falls into the pool [01:15:24] -- seated in a chair on the diving board, the chair stays in place as Cameron takes the plunge. However, as he sinks [01:15:27], the chair can be seen behind him in the water.



Another careless oversight in the scene where Jeannie is speeding home from the police station in hopes of catching Ferris red-handed. One second, the car is fully equipped with a rear-view mirror [01:30:44], the next it's gone [01:31:03]. Apparently Jeannie's lead foot caused the mirror to fall from the windshield.



While there's a possibility that this is only be visible in the widescreen edition of Ferris Bueller, a pair of vice grips clamped to the left side of the hood on Mr. Bueller's car can be seen for a quick second in one of the film's later scenes. This clamp was likely used to secure a camera used for an alternate angle.


As the credits roll, Mr. Rooney is coerced onto a school bus. As he approaches the bus, he steps from the sidewalk onto a patch of grass [01:40:05]. As the camera angle changes and the bus pulls away the sidewalk has instantly moved itself against the street [01:42:03].



Film makers have been known to include small details in their movies which reference their previous works. For example, R2D2 can be found in a scene from one of the Indiana Jones movies. Along those same lines, John Hughes cleverly referenced three of his other films in Ferris Bueller's Day Off through the use of license plates. The plate on Mr. Rooney's car reads "4FBDO" (4 Ferris Bueller's Day Off) while Mrs. Bueller's plate has the letters "VCTN" (Vacation) and Mr. Bueller's license plate references the movie Mr. Mom with the letters "MMOM." Finally, the most recognizable license plate from the movie does not reference a previous film but rather the nature of Cameron Frye as the Ferrari's plate reads "NRVOUS" (nervous).



In one other small reference to his previous work and his own background, John Hughes quickly shows the badge of an "Officer Shermer" in the scene where Jeannie is at the police station. For those familiar with the Breakfast Club, Shermer High School was the school referenced in that movie's opening scene.


Anonymous said...

1) probably not Jeanie's lead foot that dislodged the rear-view, but Mrs. Beuller's arm flailing.
2) Not "Officer Shermer" but the town of Shermer is the fictional suburb of Chicago in most of Hughes' movies.
3) Although it IS a dodgy scene at [00:12:44] the moving box goes from Ferris' hand, to on it's end next to the keyboard, to his lap (not gone) and jumps around a bit from there.

Otherwise good work

Jim L said...

You missed Jeanie's license plate, TBC, The Breakfast Club. Very obvious when she pulls into the circular driveway at her house.

TL said...

Hey Jim ... I've always heard about her license plate reading "TBC" but I could never find a specific scene in the movie where it's clearly visible. Even the scene you've mentioned, where she pulls into the circle drive in front of the house, her license plate is not readable. Do you know of another specific scene where this can be seen clearly?