In the spirit of the season, here’s a fun article about a few things you probably don’t know about Christmas classics, and the weird connections between them. Have fun sharing these unexpected tidbits along with your good tidings!
“It’s a Wonderful Life” became a Christmas classic on accident
When “It’s a Wonderful Life” came out in 1946 it was well-received by audiences, but the movie wasn’t a resounding financial success. The studio failed to turn a profit, and it was largely forgotten over time. Ownership of the movie changed hands, and eventually a clerical error resulted in someone failing to renew the copyright on time so it lapsed and the movie fell into the public domain in the 1970s. Local TV stations then started playing the movie around the holidays, since they could show it for free. Thanks to that happy accident, the Jimmy Stewart movie is now a beloved Christmas classic. (TV stations can no longer play it for free though, due to a later court ruling in another case that allows the owners of the original story on which the film is based to call it a derivative work still protected by copyright.)
The movie was directed by Frank Capra. His grandson, Frank Capra III, was an assistant director on “Christmas Vacation,” and there is a scene in that movie where Rusty Griswold is watching the 1946 film.
The original Rusty was not in “Christmas Vacation” but he later worked with Chevy Chase again in a Christmas episode of NBC’s “Community”
Anthony Michael Hall played Chevy Chase’s character’s son Rusty Griswold in National Lampoon’s “Vacation,” but not in the sequel “Christmas Vacation.” (The role was played by a young Johnny Galecki.) But Hall later worked with Chevy Chase again as a guest star in a Christmas episode of NBC’s “Community” (“Comparative Religion, season 1 episode 12). Hall plays a bully who picks a fight with Chevy Chase’s study group, resulting in a brawl that ruins Shirley’s Christmas party.
Bully: Give me a winterdoodle!
Jeff Winger: If you’re trying to be menacing, maybe don’t call the cookie by its name.
Bully: Oh, you’re funny. You’re a funny man. Wanna hear something funny, funny man? Knock-knock. My fist up your balls!
Jeff Winger: Who’s there…?
Johnny Galecki’s role on “The Big Bang Theory” was meant for “Home Alone” actor Macaulay Culkin
Johnny Galecki played Rusty Griswold in “Christmas Vacation.” He later played Leonard in the CBS mega-hit “The Big Bang Theory,” a role that was originally offered to… “Home Alone” actor Macaulay Culkin, who turned it down three times.
Chris Columbus was originally supposed to direct “Christmas Vacation,” but he didn’t want to work with Chevy Chase, so he directed “Home Alone” instead.
The director of “Home Alone” kept Trump’s cameo in the 2nd movie because the test audience loved it
Director Chris Columbus recently revealed that Donald Trump demanded he be given a role in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” if they wanted to film in The Plaza Hotel, which was owned by Trump at the time. When the director showed the cameo in screenings, the test audience loved it, so he kept it in.
And here’s one more fun, unexpected connection to wrap things up: In the original “Home Alone,” the family can be seen watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” dubbed in French, while they are sitting in a hotel room in Paris. In “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” the family watches it dubbed in Spanish, from their hotel room in Florida.