‘Tis the season for holiday parties and family gatherings. And while spiked eggnog and mistletoe are the usual social lubricants for this time of year, there is always a moment where you find yourself in a conversation that hits that awkward lull. So whether you find yourself talking to your boss or your weird uncle Dennis, here are a few Christmas movie-themed bon mots you can use to amuse and entertain.
Miracle on 34th Street:
Even though “Miracle on 34th Street” is one of the ultimate Christmas movies, studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck insisted on releasing the flick in May because, he reasoned, more people see movies in the summer. The studio’s PR department was given the difficult task of marketing a movie about Santa Claus while trying to keep the fact that it was a Christmas movie secret.
Not only did Zanuck make the holiday movie a summer release, but he wasn’t too keen on the project to begin with. He thought that flick was too corny to get an audience. It ended up getting nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and did win the Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay, among others.
It’s a Wonderful Life: My absolute favorite!
When it was being developed, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was originally slated to star Cary Grant, not Jimmy Stewart. But when Frank Capra came on board, he rewrote the part for Stewart.
Here’s another fact: In movies of the 1940s, effects departments routinely used corn flakes painted white as snow. However, as actors walked through the “corn snow,” the crunching of the flakes was so loud that dialogue couldn’t be recorded. Frank Capra wanted live dialogue in his snow scenes, so he called upon the effects department at RKO to create a new kind of artificial snow. The result: a new chemical snow, blown through a wind machine, for a truly silent night.
“Wonderful Life” flopped at the box office in 1946, not even recouping its production costs. As TV sets invaded America over the following 30 years, networks searched for holiday programming — and “It’s a Wonderful Life” proved perfect.
A Christmas Story:
“A Christmas Story” might be one of the most beloved Christmas movies around, but its existence is entirely because of the success of director Bob Clark’s previous effort “Porky’s” — a teen sex comedy that’s far less beloved.
Jack Nicholson was reportedly interested in the role of The Old Man, but the studio wasn’t keen to pay the actor’s fees, which would have doubled the budget.
When the original home of “A Christmas Story” went up for sale in 2005, avid fan Brian Jones bought the house on eBay to the tune of $150,000. He reportedly spent another $500,000 restoring the exterior to look exactly like the movie. It’s now a museum. The house next door has been turned into a gift shop.
Joe Pesci kept dropping the F-bomb during production, forgetting that this was a family movie and not “Goodfellas.” Director Chris Columbus advised the actor to say the word “fridge” instead of that other word.
Daniel Stern agreed to have that tarantula crawl on his face for only one take. He had to pantomime the scream, though. Screams tend to freak out the spiders, and it’s never a good idea to do that when they’re on your face.