It’s true: it’s been 25 years since Kevin McAllister first wished his family away for Christmas in the holiday classic, Home Alone.
Directed by Chris Columbus and written by John Hughes, the 1990 flick made an international sensation of pint-sized star, Macaulay Culkin, and became a cash cow, ushering in a number of board games, toys, and, of course, sequels. Almost immediately, Kevin’s evening of mayhem with the Wet Bandits became an embedded cinematic Christmas tradition, like It’s a Wonderful Life and Die Hard.
As we celebrate the movie’s quarter-of-a-century milestone, here are 10 little-known facts about the movie that will, no doubt, leave you thirsty for more.
Thank you, Uncle Buck – The concept for Home Alone occurred to Hughes during the shooting of Uncle Buck, which also starred Culkin. It was the scene in which the precocious Culkin interrogates a potential babysitter through a mail slot that gave Hughes his “Eureka!” moment. In Home Alone, Culkin has a similar confrontation with Daniel Stern, albeit via a doggie door with hilarious results.
It was a juggernaut – There are number one movies, and then there are Guinness World Record-breaking number one movies. Home Alone not only topped the box office in its opening weekend, but it also maintained its top spot for a full 12 weeks. And in a feat that’s virtually unheard of nowadays, the flick remained in the top 10 until June of the following year. No wonder it earned a Guinness World Record as the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever domestically, and went on to earn $533,000,000 internationally.
Everything Was Filmed in Chicago –Like most of Hughes’ movies, Home Alone was set in Chi-Town. Even though there are a couple other cities featured in the film, every single scene was shot in the Windy City. The first class seats on the plane to Paris? Those were actually located in a local high school’s gym. The flooded basement? That was the same high school’s swimming pool. Even the scenes set at Charles de Gualle airport in Paris were filmed at Chicago’s O’Hare.
It could have looked a lot different – Both Jon Lovitz and Robert De Niro were offered the role of Harry before Joe Pesci went onto immortalize the scowling burglar. The role of Uncle Frank, played by Gary Bammam, was originally meant for Kelsey Grammer, who would have surely brought a Sideshow Bob-esque menace to the line, “Look what you did, you little jerk!”
Old Man Marley wasn’t supposed to be in the script – The original script was apparently straight slapstick, but Columbus thought the movie needed a bit more heart to balance out the comedy. Thus, the so-called creepy role of the neighbour with a shovel and a secret who teaches Kevin about forgiveness was born.
Buzz’s girlfriend was actually a boy. Really. – There’s a good reason why Buzz’s girlfriend was more “woof” than “bow wow” – she was actually the art director’s son who was made up to look like a girl. Columbus thought using a real girl’s photo would be too cruel to make fun of a teenage girl like that.
Angels With Filthy Souls doesn’t exist. – You probably thought the James Cagney-like gangster film that Kevin watches was real. But before you get your ugly, yella, no-good keister off the couch to search IMdb.com to prove its validity, you should know it’s totally fake. And so is its sequel, Angels With Even Filthier Souls.
Daniel Stern wore rubber feet. – He may have played a fool in the flick, but in real life, Stern was no dummy. The actor wore rubber feet during his painstaking barefoot scenes in which he steps on the nail and tar boobytraps on the basement stairs. As for the Christmas ornaments he steps on? Those were actually made from candy. What was real, though, was the tarantula. But Stern, who had to mime a scream to not frighten the spider away, insisted on shooting it in one take. Smart move.
Marv was supposed to get a spin-off. – Stern’s 1995 comedy, Bushwhacked, in which he stars as a delivery guy on the run after being framed for murder, was originally supposed to be a spinoff of Home Alone. The storyline would have been essentially the same, but there’s no word on how Harry would play a part. Maybe he was whom Marv murdered? Can’t say we’d blame him.
It’s a huge hit in Poland. – Home Alone has had a huge global impact, so huge in fact that it was the first western film shown in Poland after the fall of communism. Since it first aired in 1990 on national TV, watching the movie has become a Christmas tradition in the country. It’s become so popular in that, in 2011, more than five million tuned in to watch it, making it the most watched show of the season.