‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ Turns 30! The 5 Best Scenes

As the ‘80s fave hits a mind-boggling milestone, we select our favorite moments. Because we can still recite every single line…
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Tracy Phillips
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As the ‘80s fave hits a mind-boggling milestone, we select our favorite moments. Because we can still recite every single line…
St. Elmo's Fire Photo

The 'St. Elmo's Fire' cast. (Photo: Photofest)

1985 was a vital year in pop culture. Madonna was “Crazy for You.” The Golden Girls debuted. Back to the Future, The Goonies, and Rocky IV played across movie screens. But of all the considerable events that happened that year, one stands out like a bolt of lightening across a storm-less sky: The birth of the “Brat Pack.”

Why? Because two more classics of the era also came out in ’85: The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire. Released just months apart, the films had co-mingled casts (Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson co-starred in both) and before long, the entire group of young actors associated with both movies were christened the Brat Pack.

St. Elmo’s Fire quickly became the anthem for anyone remotely young and/or restless. The coming-of-age film from Joel Schumacher featured seven best friends fresh off graduation from Georgetown as they struggle to adapt into grown-up-hood. It starred Emilio Estevez and former fiancee Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Mare Winningham, who was cursed with perhaps the worst wardrobe in the history of film.

Chock full of fashion disasters that definitely do NOT stand the test of time but full of many life lessons that do – “It ain’t a party ‘til something gets broken” – the film is like a tidal wave of nostalgia. Even the classic ‘80s soundtrack, with its requisite “Love Theme” from David Foster and the “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” song from John Parr, still gives us the warm and fuzzies every time we hear it.

So while all the Gen Xers try to shake off the horror that it’s been 30 years since the Brat Pack’s heyday – we decided to round up the 5 most memorable scenes from St. Elmo’s Fire. “You’re not gonna believe how outta hand it’s gonna be…”

1. “Growin’ up, you don’t see the writing on the wall…”

The opening image of the magnificent seven walking across the college campus in their caps and gowns, arms draped around each other…fades out to the sound of a car crash and the gang rushing into an ER. Good girl Wendy (Mare Winningham) and her (married) crush, bad boy Billy (Rob Lowe), have been in an accident in her new car – a graduation gift from her father. “Billy, four months after graduation and you’re still acting like every night’s a frat party!” As Billy’s informed he’s being arrested for drunk driving, he smiles, “Drunk definitely, but I don’t know if you could call it driving.” After figuring out how to bail their friend out of jail for DUI, they all head to the bar!

2. “I’m obsessed, thank you very much.”

While at the ER, Kirby (Emilio Estevez) catches a glimpse of Dr. Dale Biberman (Andie MacDowell) and immediately becomes irrationally obsessed with her. “She is the only evidence of God I have seen — with the exception of the mysterious force that removes one sock from the dryer every time I do my laundry.” Later, after throwing a party for her that she blows off, Kirby embarrassingly crashes Dale’s romantic snowy weekend at a cabin with her actual boyfriend, gets his car (actually, it’s Wendy’s new new car) stuck in the snow and is forced to spend a very awkward night with the love of his life and her lover. Upon saying goodbye the next morning, Kirby grabs Dale, dips her back over his knee and kisses her. Then he drives off laughing maniacally. #winning?

3. “Love… you know what love is? Love is an illusion...”

Kevin (Andrew McCarthy), the not-gay cynic, finally declares his love for Leslie (Ally Sheedy) after she finds his secret stash of photos of her inside a tin. Vulnerable after having a blowout with Alec the Cheating Republican (Judd Nelson) over his “extracurricular activities,” Leslie sleeps with Kevin. Naturally, Alec shows up the morning after. Leslie slinks out into the hallway draped in a sheet and reveals that “It’s not the fat chick.”

4. “You break my heart. Then again, you break everyone’s heart.”

Billy the Heartbreak Kid strikes several times throughout the movie, from using Wendy the Spanx-wearing Virgin for rent money to leaving his wife Felicia and baby Melody at home while he plays the sax at the bar and makes out with Jules (Demi Moore) on the jukebox. But it’s the Jeep scene in his driveway when Jules, who’s broke, obsessed with her dead “step-monster” and having an affair with her boss, really just needs to talk to a friend who won’t shove the Jeep keys down his pants to get some. Jules gives the bad boy the gut-punching line he deserves. “You break my heart. Then again, you break everyone’s heart,” she tells Billy after throwing him out of the vehicle. The kicker: His wife and baby are watching from the porch. Oh, Billy from the Roof, get it together!

5. “Do NOT give that man a blowtorch!”

The St. Elmo’s scene of scenes happens at the end when Billy of all people saves the day with a swoosh of blowtorch fire and a pep talk after the not-so-glamorous drama queen Jules locks herself inside her cold, empty Pepto-pink apartment with a giant scary clown.

“Jules, ya know, honey... This isn't real. You know what it is? It's St. Elmo's Fire. Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it, but the joke was on them... there was no fire. There wasn't even a St. Elmo. They made it up. They made it up because they thought they needed it to keep them going when times got tough, just like you're making up all of this. We're all going through this. It's our time at the edge.”

Happy 30th Anniversary, “St. Elmo’s Fire”! “Ah Boogla, Boogla, Boogla, Ah-Ah-Ahhh….”