5 Quick Facts About 5 Christmas Movies

December 4, 2013

You watch them every year…but do you know everything there is to know about these classic holiday films?

Christmas moviesElf

Buddy the Elf says that elves “try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.” While portraying Buddy, Ferrell ate so much sugar—particularly in the scenes where Buddy eats huge plates of spaghetti covered in chocolate syrup and candy chunks—that he routinely suffered migraines throughout the filming of the movie.

Bad Santa

Christmas movies are usually very clean, family-friendly, and rated G or PG. Not Bad Santa. This R-rated dark comedy is easily the most profane Christmas movie of all time. The f-word and its variants are used 170 times; the s-word, 74 times.

A Christmas Story

Did you know that there’s a sequel to this movie? The original is based on real childhood stories by humorist Jean Shepherd. The 1994 movie It Runs in the Family is also based on Shepherd stories, and features the same characters from A Christmas Story. Filmed 11 years after the first film, It Runs in the Family necessarily has a different cast—Charles Grodin replaced Darren McGavin, Mary Steenburgen replaced Melinda Dillon, and as Ralphie, Peter Billingsley was out and Kieran Culkin was in. Also missing from It Runs in the Family: Christmas. It takes place in the summer.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Prior to this movie, fake movie snow was made from simply painting cornflakes white. But they made so much noise as they fell (or were stepped on) that any dialogue had to be recorded later, and dubbed in. Director Frank Capra wanted to record the movie’s emotional dialogue live, so he the effects department at RKO Pictures created a few kind of movie snow, made from soap, water, and foamite, a chemical used to put out fires. The combination was then sent through a wind machine. Result: realistic looking—and quiet—phony snow. RKO’s effects department was awarded an honorary Oscar for the achievement in 1947. Ironically, It’s a Wonderful Life flopped in its initial theatrical run in late 1946 because of real snow. Much of the country was hit by nasty snowstorms its opening weekend, and movie attendance plummeted.

Christmas Vacation

In the scene where the Griswold family decorates their Christmas tree, It’s a Wonderful Life plays on TV. It was directed by Frank Capra; Capra’s grandson, Frank Capra III, was an assistant director on Christmas Vacation. And toward the end of the movie, when police bust into the house to rescue Clark Griswold’s kidnapped boss, “Here Comes Santa Claus” by Gene Autry plays. Autry is a third cousin of Randy Quaid, who plays Eddie in all the Vacation films, including this one.