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25 Facts About Lethal Weapon

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On March 6, 1987, moviegoers met Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs, an unlikely pair of Los Angeles cops, played by Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, respectively. With Lethal Weapon, screenwriter Shane Black wrote a progenitor of the buddy-cop genre, expertly combining an action-thriller with dark humor. For a script that took only six weeks to write, Black earned a whopping $250,000 paycheck—and then another $150,000 after the movie was produced.

The Richard Donner-directed movie grossed more than $120 million worldwide (more than half of that domestically) on a $15 million budget. With a franchise comprised of four films, it generated almost $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide. As Lethal Weapon makes its way back to audiences, this time via the small screen, here are 25 dynamite facts about the Lethal Weapon series.

1. THE FIRST SCRIPT WAS THROWN IN THE GARBAGE.

Shane Black was 23 years old and trying to become an actor when he wrote the first draft of Lethal Weapon in less than six weeks. Not knowing what a huge hit he had on his hands, at one point Black gave up and threw the script into the trash. "I thought it was dreadful," Black admitted.

2. SHANE BLACK SET OUT TO WRITE AN “URBAN WESTERN,” MIXED WITH FRANKENSTEIN.

Vince Bucci/Getty Images

“What I was looking to do at that time was write a urban western,” Black said. For Riggs, Black used one of his favorite films, Dirty Harry, as a template. “That’s what I was thinking about for that character, sort of the Frankenstein who everybody reviles ... for what he did, for what he’s capable of, for the things he still believes in. Because we think that we’re all placid and tame, but in fact violence intrudes in a horrible way and then they have to knock on Frankenstein’s cage and say, 'Well we kind of need what you do even though we hate and revile you. Please come out and kill these people for us,' and it’s the old gun slinger."

3. LEONARD NIMOY WAS OFFERED THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR.

Richard Donner ended up directing all four of the Lethal Weapon films, but that only happened after Leonard Nimoy—who had just shown his directing chops behind the camera on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), and 3 Men and a Baby (1987)—turned down directing Lethal Weapon to concentrate on The Good Mother (1988).

4. DONNER TONED DOWN THE SCRIPT'S VIOLENCE, AND WAS INFLUENCED BY JOHN WAYNE.

Vince Bucci/Getty Images

''I tried to make it more like an old-fashioned western,'' Donner told The New York Times. ''Sure there were a lot of deaths, but they died like they died in westerns. They were shot with bullets, they weren't dismembered. I like action and a strong story line. I like to turn my head away in suspense, not in disgust. I think the audiences feel like I do, and that's why people like the film and come back to see it a second time.'' This contrasted with Frank's descriptions of the deaths in the script, where "the head disintegrates in a bloody spray." Donner claimed John Wayne fans would recognize some of the punches thrown by Mel Gibson and Gary Busey from the John Wayne film Red River (1948).

5. THE MOVIE WORKED BECAUSE OF “REAL CHARACTERS.”

In a 2012 reunion interview with Empire Magazine, Mel Gibson said buddy-cop movies prior to Lethal Weapon “were all a little two-dimensional. The heroes would grunt; they wouldn’t express themselves much. But Riggs and Murtaugh were real characters.”

“It’s the humor, mixed with the action and the special effects,” Danny Glover added. “All that came together at that particular time. And the chemistry between the two of us was undeniable.” Donner agreed: “You don’t find [chemistry] in real life very often, much less on the screen," said the director. "But it works. People care about them.” Gibson described filming Lethal Weapon as “pure fun,” and Donner said “there was uncontrollable laughter at times.”

“And it’s been emulated so much and referred to so often,” Gibson said. The 1993 film Loaded Weapon 1 (a sequel, thankfully, wasn’t made), starring Emilio Estevez and Samuel L. Jackson, parodied Lethal Weapon 1 through 3. “If something works and people are sending it up and knocking it off, you’ve got to be flattered,” Gibson told Empire.

6. THE ORIGINAL FILM HAD A DIFFERENT OPENING AND ENDING.

The first time we see Riggs in Lethal Weapon is at his beachfront trailer, with his dog, smoking and drinking while walking around naked. In an earlier draft of the script, Riggs drinks with dock workers who torment a dog, and Riggs makes “mincemeat” out of the guys. The original ending (above) featured Riggs and Murtaugh saying goodbye to each other, and Riggs telling Murtaugh not to quit the force, because he’s too old. But in the theatrical ending, Riggs shows up at Murtaugh’s house on Christmas. “If you think I’m going to eat the world’s lousiest Christmas turkey by myself, you’re crazy,” Murtaugh tells him. “I’ll tell you a little secret: I’m not crazy,” Riggs responds. Riggs and his dog agree to stay for dinner. 

Besides the re-shot ending, a couple of scenes were left out of the film (they were included in the Director’s Cut), one in which Riggs attacks a sniper who’s shooting at a playground, and a scene where Riggs pays a prostitute to watch TV with him.

7. THE ACTORS WERE TRAINED IN THREE DIFFERENT FORMS OF MARTIAL ARTS.

To prepare for their roles, the actors learned a trio of martial arts techniques, including Capoeira, Jailhouse Rock (a fighting technique that originated in United States prisons), and Jiu-Jitsu. Gary Busey recalled also learning Taekwondo as well. Busey's interest in martial arts began when he was taught these forms for Lethal Weapon.

8. LOOK CLOSELY AND IT TURNS INTO A MESSAGE MOVIE.

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If you pay attention to stuff in the background, you’ll notice a “Free South Africa, End Apartheid” sticker on the Murtaughs’ fridge in the first film, and other messages like anti-NRA and anti-tuna posters. “If you can make a good entertainment and sneak a message in, super,” Donner told Empire. “Sometimes people do it ass-backwards: make message films and then sneak the entertainment in.” Viewers definitely noticed; because of the sticker and South African-themed plot of the second film, Donner received death threats.

9. MURTAUGH WASN’T WRITTEN WITH A PARTICULAR ETHNICITY IN MIND.

Nowhere in the script does it mention Murtaugh's ethnicity. “We just got the best actor that we could for the part, and it happened to be he was black,” Donner said during a 1987 press conference for the move. In the interview with Empire, Donner explained that it was casting director Marion Dougherty who suggested Glover. “She said to me, ‘Did you see The Color Purple? What about Danny Glover?’ And my first reaction was, ‘But he’s black!’ And then I thought, ‘Whoa, f*ck, here’s Mr. Liberal. What a brilliant idea...’ I felt stupid. It changed my way of thinking.” 

10. GIBSON AND GLOVER BONDED IN REAL LIFE.

Friendship—both on- and off-screen—is one reason the four films were so successful. “It parallels the police relationship,” Gibson said of his relationship with Glover. “A lot of those guys become friends or become dependent on each other. They get a bond through desperation. Because we used to go out on night patrols, you get this feeling of vulnerability. It’s the same with the film. It’s kind of a feeling of desperation in a way. It’s scary when you embark on something like that because you’re exposing yourself in a way, so a bond forms. And he’s a good actor and a nice guy. So it normally happened; it was easy.”

11. DISNEYLAND (AND MICKEY ROURKE) SPROUTED JOE PESCI’S LEO GETZ.

The loquacious, foul-mouthed Leo Getz makes his first appearance in Lethal Weapon 2, spouting the catchphrase “okay, okay, okay.” The origin of the repetitive expression occurred when Mickey Rourke and Pesci went to Disneyland. “Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons were singing at Frontierland, so we stopped to ask for directions from these blond-headed, blue-eyed kids,” Pesci told Empire. “I think they were Mormons probably. And the first word out of this kid’s mouth was, ‘Okay!’ Then he hit me with about 12 more: ‘No, no! Okay, okay, okay!’ We thought it was really funny.”

12. GARY BUSEY THOUGHT ABOUT A SHARK WHILE PREPPING HIS BAD GUY ROLE.

The actor played Mr. Joshua in the first Lethal Weapon, and is one of Donner’s favorite villains in the series. “I always build a back story for my characters, to get in the mood of it,” Busey told Empire, For this role, he went to an unusual place. “Mr. Joshua, he would walk through his grandmother’s blood to get a postage stamp and never look at her. I had this look, here,” Busey said, and then took off his sunglasses. “It gave me the eyes of a shark, which has no life. It’s neat doing that.”

13. RIGGS WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE IN THE SECOND MOVIE.

“We were always teetering on the brink of bumping Riggs off,” Gibson told Empire, and the idea almost manifested in the second film. During the period when Black wrote the sequel, he said he was “a real wreck psychologically.” “They put me on the sequel and it was one of the hardest scripts I’ve ever written,” Black told Creative Screenwriting. “I was so terrified of it, at the end of the process I looked at the script and thought, I’d really blown it. I wrote it with a friend of mine, a guy named Warren Murphy. They said they didn’t like that the character died at the end, and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve failed everybody, I screwed up, I blew it. My writing sucks.’” Black said when he re-read his script, he realized it wasn’t so bad. “There’s no question the draft of Lethal Weapon 2 that I wrote, death and all, is my best work.”

14. THE CARPENTER'S COMMENT ABOUT THE CONDOM COMMERCIAL WAS IMPROVISED.

In Lethal Weapon 2, Jack McGee played "Carpenter" in the scene where everyone gathers around to see Murtaugh's daughter Rianne (Traci Wolfe) in a condom commercial. During rehearsal, Gibson set McGee up by asking what he thought of what he had just seen. "I said, 'I thought she was great. She made me wanna go out and buy rubbers right now.' Danny Glover, in the rehearsal, spit his f*cking sandwich across the room, and it wound up staying in the movie." Fun fact: The year before Lethal Weapon 2's release, McGee played "Carpenter" in Scrooged.

15. $10,000 OF LETHAL WEAPON 2'S BUDGET CAME FROM CONDOMS.

In a product placement deal, the makers of Ramses condoms paid more than $10,000 to showcase their product in Lethal Weapon 2.

16. CARRIE FISHER HELPED WRITE LETHAL WEAPON 3.

After Carrie Fisher's success in adapting her own semi-autobiography Postcards From the Edge (1990) to film, the actress was hired as a script doctor for several major movies. In addition to punching up the dialogue for Lethal Weapon 3, she worked on Hook (1991), Sister Act (1992), Outbreak (1995), The Wedding Singer (1998), and even the Star Wars prequels.

17. RENE RUSSO BLEW HER AUDITION.

Rene Russo would not have gotten the part of Lorna Cole in Lethal Weapon 3 (or Lethal Weapon 4) if she had been judged solely on her first audition. "I was bad," Russo told the Chicago Tribune in 1992. "I could feel I was dying." Donner thought she "lacked the edge" needed for Cole.

“I went back and showed him my street girl and told him that when I said, ‘get against the f*cking wall,’ people were going to believe me,” Russo told The Independent. She told the Los Angeles Times, “When I did Lethal Weapon, they needed someone who could say 'you' with a gun and mean it—and because I was able to do that, I was pigeonholed in that way.” Though she liked playing tough, Russo says should would have liked to have done more romantic comedies.

18. ORLANDO ASKED THAT ITS CITY HALL BE BLOWN UP FOR LETHAL WEAPON 3.

In 1991, a new, $36 million City Hall opened in Orlando, Florida, but the old one needed to be demolished. Local producer Ross Testagrossa contacted Lethal Weapon 3 producer Joel Silver, who was looking for a building to blow up. On October 25, 1991, the building imploded. “We did the explosion in pieces,” Donner told Empire. “When you guys ran out of the building, we blew all the glass. And you were really there when the big detonation happened. I’m sure you felt that blast.”

“We were jumpy as hell,” Gibson admitted. “We knew the building was coming down and we were ready to sprint. When we took off, I thought, ‘I’d better slow down for [Glover]’—but he actually ran right past me.”

It wasn’t the only Florida building to be demolished for the film: The old hotel that blows up during the closing credits was the scheduled-for-demolition Soreno Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. The city's name was misspelled in the credits.

19. LEO GETZ AND LEE BUTTERS WERE NOT IN THE ORIGINAL LETHAL WEAPON 4 SCRIPT.

Pesci was re-signed at the last minute for $1 million for three weeks of work. Chris Rock (Detective Lee Butters) did not join until Gibson was three-fourths through his latest draft. Writing on the script continued during filming.

20. LETHAL WEAPON 4 WAS MADE FASTER THAN THE OTHER FILMS.

A Den Of Geek article explained Warner Bros. was desperate for a hit, so they ordered a fourth installment—but it had to be ready in six months. Production didn’t begin until January 1998 but the movie needed to be released in July. After production ended, editor Frank J. Urioste had only four weeks to edit the movie, doing it digitally on an Avid for the first time. Luckily for Warner Bros. the film grossed $285 million worldwide, slightly less than Lethal Weapon 3’s 1992 haul of $321 million worldwide.

21. JET LI MADE HIS HOLLYWOOD DEBUT IN LETHAL WEAPON 4.

Jet Li had never been in an English language film, nor had he ever played a bad guy before portraying Wah Sing Ku. Li told CNN that a lot of Asian audiences and reporters didn't like the idea of him acting as a villain. In his next Hollywood film, 2000's Romeo Must Die, he got to play a good guy.

22. JEFFREY BOAM WROTE A LETHAL WEAPON 4 SCRIPT ABOUT NEO-NAZIS.

Jeffrey Boam, who wrote the second and third installments of Lethal Weapon, was tasked with writing a draft for the fourth film, too. It involved Neo-Nazis as the enemy, as well as a terrorist attack. The producers passed on Boam's script and opted for one penned by Murder One creator Channing Gibson, who had only worked in television previously.

23. SHANE BLACK LIKES SETTING HIS MOVIES DURING CHRISTMASTIME BECAUSE “IT’S UNIFYING.”

Lethal Weapon takes place at Christmastime, as do several other Black-penned films, including The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Last Boy Scout, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. “Christmas is fun,” Black told Den Of Geek. “It’s unifying, and all your characters are involved in this event that stays within the larger story ... It grounds everything. At Christmas, lonely people are lonelier, seeing friends and families go by. People take ... stock of where their lives are at Christmas. It just provides a backdrop against which different things can play out, but with one unifying, global heading. I’ve always liked it, especially in thrillers, for some reason. It’s a touch of magic.”

24. INSTEAD OF A FIFTH FILM, AUDIENCES ARE GETTING A TELEVISION SERIES.

For years, Lethal Weapon 5 was reportedly in the works; in 2014 it was titled Lionhunters, and Chris Hemsworth and director Justin Lin were attached. Mel Gibson turned down reprising his role, as did Donner. “I would like to think that Mel turned it down because I wasn’t involved,” Donner told the Los Angeles Times. “Knowing Mel, I would like to think that. Would that be the kind of thing he does? It sure would be.” In February 2016, Fox greenlit a pilot for a TV adaptation, starring Damon Wayans as Murtaugh. The series, which features Clayne Crawford as Riggs, kicks off tonight on Fox.

25. BUT IF THERE WAS A FIFTH FILM, IT WOULD INVOLVE A MOTOR HOME.

Black reportedly wrote a treatment for a fifth film, but Donner didn’t see it. The director told Empire what his version would be like: “The two crazies decide to cool their lives, but it’s impossible for them to stay out of situations. It starts with Riggs and Murtaugh out in the country in a motor home. They’re on a trip and they stop to get gas, but Roger forgets to put the brake on. So the motor home rolls through a village, annihilating everything, and they get in serious trouble. It had a lot of heart, a lot of family. Rene [Russo], Darlene [Love], they would all have come back.”

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15 Facts About the First Episode of The Simpsons
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FOX

On December 17, 1989, The Simpsons premiered on FOX. Nearly 30 years later, the Simpson family and their fellow Springfield residents are still going strong. Let's look back at where it all started—"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire."

1. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO PREMIERE IN SEPTEMBER.

The Simpsons was originally planned to premiere earlier in the fall of 1989, but because of animation problems, the series began on December 17 with "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire." The original pilot, "Some Enchanted Evening," later aired as the season finale.

2. MARGE WAS SUPPOSED TO GET DRUNK.

According to Al Jean, the original premise of the episode was that "Homer was worried that Marge was going to get drunk at a party and get him in trouble at the office."

3. IT'S LACKING THE SERIES' NOW-FAMOUS OPENING SEQUENCE. 

The episode lacked the now-famous opening sequence, which was added in the second episode, "Bart the Genius," because creator Matt Groening thought a longer opening sequence would mean less animation.

4. GWEN STEFANI'S BROTHER PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN ITS CREATION.

One of the layout artists for "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was Eric Stefani, brother of Gwen Stefani and a founding member of No Doubt.

5. BARNEY LOOKED A BIT DIFFERENT.

In the first episode, Barney had yellow hair, which was the same color as his skin. This was later changed because the people behind the show thought that only members of the Simpson family should have yellow hair.

6. LISA REALLY WANTED A PONY.

Lisa asks for a pony six times on her Christmas list (it's her first line in the series). She would later get her pony in the season 3 episode "Lisa's Pony."

7. PART OF IT WAS INSPIRED BY MATT GROENING'S SECOND GRADE SCHOOL REPORT.

According to the DVD commentary, the "Santas of many lands" portion of the Christmas pageant was inspired by a second grade report Matt Groening did on Christmas in Russia.

8. IT DIDN'T INVENT THE ALTERNATE VERSION OF "JINGLE BELLS."

Additionally, Groening claims that this episode has been incorrectly credited with creating the "alternate version" of "Jingle Bells." (Bart sings, "Jingle Bells/Batman Smells/Robin Laid an Egg...")

9. IT WAS ONLY THE SECOND ANIMATED SERIES TO AIR IN PRIMETIME SINCE THE FLINTSTONES.

The Simpsons was just the second animated show to air in primetime since The Flintstones went off the air 23 years earlier. (The other was Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which aired from 1972-1974.)

10. THE IDEA WAS CONCEIVED UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL.

According to executive producer James L. Brooks, "The Simpsons series began like many things begin: with an animator getting drunk at a Christmas party ... We were already doing Tracey Ullman, and David Silverman, who was with us then and would go on to direct The Simpsons Movie, cornered me and poured out his heart about what having a primetime Simpsons show would mean to animators."

11. LISA WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A "LITTLE HELL-RAISER."

The Simpsons in 'The Town'
Fox

According to Al Jean, in the original shorts, "Lisa was supposed to be this little hell-raiser like Bart, but their character differentiation was wider when we went to full series."

12. YEARDLEY SMITH AUDITIONED FOR BART.

Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa, originally auditioned for Bart. "That lasted a good eight or nine seconds," Smith recounts, "It was like: "Cut, cut, cut! You sound too much like a girl!"

13. A SECOND CITY PERFORMANCE GOT DAN CASTELLANETA AN AUDITION.

Dan Castellaneta was invited to read for Homer Simpson after Tracey Ullman saw him perform a sketch comedy bit about a blind, crippled comedian at Second City in Chicago.

14. IT WAS MILLHOUSE'S FIRST APPEARANCE, BUT HE ALREADY EXISTED.

"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" is the first time Milhouse appeared on the show, however he was featured in a Butterfinger commercial in 1988.

15. SANTA'S LITTLE HELPER WENT MISSING.

Because "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was originally meant to be the eighth episode, Santa's Little Helper is mysteriously absent from the next episode ("Bart the Genius"). According to DVD commentary, the creators of the show received letters of praise for heightening the awareness of the abandonment of racing dogs even though they didn't know it was a real problem when they created the episode.

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27 Festive Facts About Christmas Vacation
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Warner Bros.

On December 1, 1989, a new chapter of Griswold family dysfunction was unleashed upon the world when National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation made its debut in movie theaters and an instant holiday classic was born. Here are 27 things you might not know about everyone’s favorite Christmas comedy.

1. THE MOVIE IS BASED ON A SHORT STORY.

Like the 1983 original, Christmas Vacation is based on a short story, “Christmas ‘59,” written by John Hughes for National Lampoon in December 1980. Its literary predecessor is paid tribute to when Clark is trapped in the attic and pulls out a box of old home movies, including one labeled “Christmas ’59.” (Eagle-eyed viewers might notice that when Clark is watching the film, it actually says “Christmas 1955.”)

2. CLARK GREW UP IN SAMANTHA STEVENS’S HOUSE.

If Clark’s childhood home featured in those old movies looks familiar, that’s because it’s the same house featured on Bewitched as well as The New Gidget. Except it’s not a house at all; it’s part of the Warner Bros. back lot, located on what is known as Blondie Street. The rest of the Griswolds’ neighborhood is on a studio back lot as well. And if the home of their snooty neighbors, Todd and Margo, looks familiar, that’s because it’s where Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and his family lived in Lethal Weapon.

3. JOHN HUGHES WASN’T A FAN OF SEQUELS.

Though many of Hughes’ films have spawned sequels, the man himself was not a fan of retreads. “The only sequels I was involved in were under duress,” Hughes once stated in an interview. Though he’s credited as a writer on European Vacation, he said that was only because he had created the characters. “But the studio came to me and begged for another [Vacation movie], and I only agreed because I had a good story to base it on. But those movies have become little more than Chevy Chase vehicles at this stage. I didn't even know about Vegas Vacation until I read about it in the trades! Ever since it came out, people have been coming up to me with disappointed looks on their faces, asking ‘What were you thinking?’ ‘I had nothing to do with it! I swear!’”

4. IT’S ONE OF ONLY TWO CHRISTMAS MOVIES RELEASED IN 1989.

Though the holiday season is usually packed with Christmas-themed movies, Christmas Vacation was one of only two that were released in 1989. The other was John Hancock’s Prancer. Johnny Galecki, a.k.a. Rusty Griswold, starred in both.

5. AUDREY IS (MIRACULOUSLY) OLDER THAN RUSTY.

Johnny Galecki, Beverly D'Angelo, Chevy Chase, and Juliette Lewis in 'Christmas Vacation' (1989)
Warner Bros.

In both the original Vacation and European Vacation, Rusty is believed to be the older of the two Griswold children. In Christmas Vacation, Rusty somehow morphs into Audrey’s younger brother.

6. THE FILM HAS TIES TO IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

In addition to footage from the Frank Capra classic actually appearing in the film, Christmas Vacation has another fun tie to It’s a Wonderful Life: Frank Capra’s grandson, Frank Capra III, is Christmas Vacation’s assistant director.

7. THE CAST OF CHRISTMAS VACATION WAS PRETTY IMPRESSIVE.

In addition to featuring future stars Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis (who scored a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination three years later for her role in Cape Fear), star Beverly D’Angelo was most impressed with the older actors who came along for the Christmas Vacation ride. “I attribute that to Jeremiah Chechik and his direction in bringing in E.G. Marshall, Doris Roberts, and Diane Ladd,” she noted. “That was really a special cast.”

8. IN A WAY, STANLEY KUBRICK IS TO THANK FOR CHRISTMAS VACATION.

Christmas Vacation marked the directorial debut of Jeremiah Chechik, who began his career as a fashion photographer for Vogue then moved into commercial directing. “I had made these commercials that became quite iconic here in the U.S.,” Chechik told to Den of Geek! in 2011. “They were very dark and sexy and sort of a little bit ahead of their time in terms of style. And what happened was they gained the notice of [Stanley] Kubrick, who had mentioned them as his favorite American filmmaking, ironically, in a New York Times article.” It didn’t take long for Chechik’s phone to start ringing and for studios to start sending him scripts. “And the script that really piqued my interest was Christmas Vacation," he said. "And the reason is I had never done any comedy—ever.”

9. CHECHIK HAD NEVER SEEN A VACATION MOVIE.

“I hadn't seen the first two [Vacation movies], and so I wasn't really influenced by anything other than the fact that it was a big—at the time—their big Christmas movie, and comedy,” Chechik said. “And I just felt if I could crack this maybe there's a whole other world of filmmaking for me.” Following Christmas Vacation, Chechik directed Benny & Joon, Diabolique, and The Avengers plus episodes of The Bronx is Burning, Gossip Girl, Chuck, and Burn Notice.

10. THE MOVIE HAD A HUGE BUDGET, PARTICULARLY FOR A COMEDY.

A $27 million budget, to be exact. Which was particularly high considering that the film had no special effects a la Ghostbusters (which was made for $30 million). But it had no trouble making its budget back; the film’s final domestic gross was $71,319,526.

11. ROGER EBERT DID NOT LOVE THE FILM.

Though it has become a bona fide holiday classic, not everyone was a fan of Christmas Vacation. In his two-star review of the film, Roger Ebert described the movie as “curious in how close it comes to delivering on its material: Sequence after sequence seems to contain all the necessary material, to be well on the way toward a payoff, and then it somehow doesn't work.”

12. IT’S THE ONLY SEQUEL IN THE VACATION FRANCHISE TO HAVE ITS OWN SEQUEL.

Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure DVD
Warner Home Video

But don’t be disappointed if you didn’t know that. Or haven’t seen it. The 2003 film, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure, was made for television. It finds Randy Quaid and Miriam Flynn (as Eddie and Catherine) stranded on an island in the South Pacific for the holidays. Yes, really. It currently holds a 12 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

13. AUDREY IS THE ONLY GRISWOLD TO APPEAR IN CHRISTMAS VACATION 2.

Dana Barron, who played Audrey in the original Vacation, reprised her role for the Christmas Vacation sequel. Eric Idle, who appeared in European Vacation, also makes an appearance, playing “English Victim.”

14. COUSIN EDDIE IS RANDY QUAID’S BEST-KNOWN CHARACTER.

At least it’s the role that gets him the most recognition. In a 1989 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Quaid admitted that he was amazed by the impact the character made. “People still come up to me and quote lines from that part. I get a lot of recognition from that role—probably as much, if not more, than any other.”

15. COUSIN EDDIE IS BASED ON A REAL GUY.

Quaid borrowed many of Cousin Eddie’s mannerisms from a guy he knew growing up in Texas, most notably his tendency toward tongue-clicking. But Eddie’s sweater/Dickie combo? That was an idea from Quaid’s wife.

16. YOU CAN BUY YOUR OWN DICKIE.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Collectibles is a website dedicated to all things Christmas Vacation (obviously). Among the many fun items are Cousin Eddie wardrobe staples, moose mugs, and punch bowls.

17. EDDIE’S SON, ROCKY, DOESN’T SPEAK IN THE FILM.

Nope, not a word.

18. AUNT BETHANY IS BETTY BOOP.

Christmas Vacation marked the final film of Mae Questel, who began her career as the voice of Betty Boop in 1931. She passed away at the age of 89 in January of 1998.

19. BETHANY AND LOUIS’ ENTRANCE MADE THE EARTH SHAKE.

At the same time the production filmed the arrival of Uncle Louis and Aunt Bethany at the Griswold house, a minor earthquake struck. The camera shakes slightly as a result of it as Bethany walks through the front door.

20. CHRISTMAS VACATION WENT STRAIGHT TO VIDEO IN ENGLAND.

Though the movie is a popular holiday film in the UK too, it was never actually shown in theaters there. Instead, it went straight to home video.

21. YOU WON’T HEAR “HOLIDAY ROAD” IN CHRISTMAS VACATION.

Christmas Vacation is the only movie in the series that doesn’t feature Lindsey Buckingham’s song, “Holiday Road.” Instead, a new song—the aptly titled “Christmas Vacation”—was written for the film by married songwriting duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. A cover of the song appears on the 2007 Disney Channel Holiday album.

22. RANDY QUAID IS THE THIRD COUSIN OF GENE AUTRY.

Which may just sound like a random. But at the end of the film, when the police raid the Griswold home, the version of “Here Comes Santa Claus” being used is Autry’s.

23. ELLEN GRISWOLD LIED TO THE COPS.

In the same scene, Ellen Griswold apologizes to Mrs. Shirley—the wife of Clark’s boss and Eddie’s kidnapping victim—assuring her that “This is our family's first kidnapping,” when, in fact, it is their second. At least the second that we know of: In the first Vacation film, the Griswolds force Lasky, the security guard at Wally World (played by John Candy), to open the park for them.

24. CHEVY CHASE, BEVERLY D’ANGELO, AND JULIETTE LEWIS REUNITED IN 2012.

The trio got together to film a series of Old Navy commercials for the holiday season. Though Johnny Galecki wasn’t there, two previous Rustys—Anthony Michael Hall and Jason Lively—were. As was Dana Barron.

25. JOHNNY GALECKI RECEIVED AN AWARD FROM CHEVY CHASE.

In a 2012 interview, The Sydney Morning Herald asked Johnny Galecki whether he has kept in touch with Chevy Chase. He admitted that “the only time I’ve seen him since that movie, which was 21 years ago I think, is when he presented us with our People’s Choice Award, so that was really neat. If you’re going to run into Chevy again it may as well be as he’s giving you an award.”

26. CHEVY CHASE AND BEVERLY D'ANGELO WERE ANXIOUS TO SEE ANOTHER VACATION MOVIE HAPPEN.

On July 29, 2015, the latest film in the Vacation franchise—simply titled Vacation—made its debut. And it couldn't have happened soon enough for Chase and D'Angelo. In 2011, Chase told Ain’t It Cool News that “I just got off the phone with Beverly D’Angelo. We are trying to work up a new Vacation and apparently Warner’s is working on one with grandchildren, but the one that Bev and I want … You know, we are just trying to think of ideas, because she is very funny and very brilliant, so when you get her in a writing mood and me in writing mood, it’s good, but it’s very hard to get the time.”

27. THE STUDIO WON THAT ONE.

Chase and D’Angelo may have had their own ideas, but the studio moved ahead with that whole “one with grandchildren” thing. Written and directed by John Francis Daley (Sam from Freaks and Geeks) and Jonathan M. Goldstein (who wrote Horrible Bosses), Vacation featured a grown-up Rusty (played by Ed Helms) taking his own family on a road trip.

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