Do you remember where Kevin's parents were heading when they finally realized their son was home alone, or what Ralphie desperately hoped to see under the tree on Christmas morning? And what major event does a ringing bell signify, according to "It's a Wonderful Life"? If you know the answers to all of these questions, you might have enough holiday spirit to ace this Christmas movie quiz!
Since the first films hit the big screen, movies and Christmas have gone hand-in-hand. In fact, Christmas Day has consistently been one of the biggest days of the year at the box office in the U.S. After all, what else is there to do after you open up all of those presents?
Of course, that doesn't mean Americans' Christmas movie obsession begins on the holiday itself. For many families, the collection of Christmas movies starts playing just after Thanksgiving, as lights are going up and trees are being trimmed. Favorite holiday programs are passed down from parent to child, just like heirloom ornaments and family traditions and customs.
It doesn't matter how many times you've seen them either; watching and re-watching your favorite Christmas classics just never gets old. It's hard not to root for the Griswolds as they maintain their holiday spirit despite repeated disasters, or cheer when the judge dismisses the case against Kris Kringle in "Miracle on 34th Street." And really, who can sit through the end of "It's a Wonderful Life," as George Bailey runs home through a snowy Bedford Falls, without a smile on their face?
Think you're a Christmas movie expert? Take our quiz to find out!
In "Rudolph. the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the names for the characters were inspired by real people. The original name of "Hermey" the elf was supposed to be in honor of Herbie, one of the producer's childhood friends. Also, Rudolph and friends were created in Japan!
Jim Carrey was initially who they wanted for Buddy the Elf, but they ended up with Will Ferrell because Jim Carrey already had other Christmas movies in the works. Did you know that Will Ferrell was a mall Santa at one point? The snow in this film is mostly computer-generated. Buddy was bullied in an early version of the "Elf" script - his journey to seek out his dad began because he was bullied by the other elves for being different.
The snow and frost on the trees in "A Christmas Story" was all frozen water put down by the crew. Everyone on set was surprised that the neighbors were so cooperative with the noise, because it took a full 24 hours using snow blowers to cover the area.
Dickens got inspired to write "A Christmas Carol" after he spoke at a charity for an institution in London that is dedicated to the advancement and diffusion of knowledge. He started the story in October of 1843 and wrote obsessively for six weeks.
Though the holiday season is usually packed with Christmas or other holiday movies, the year 1989 was a bit different. "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" was one of only two movies released that year during the holidays. Also, this film has ties to "It's a Wonderful Life."
"Miracle on 34th Street" was originally called "The Big Heart." Valentine Davies was inspired to write this story while he was waiting in a long line at a department store, according to TMC. The studio didn't get permission from Macy's and Gimbel's until after they finished filming.
For "Edward Scissorhands," the studio originally wanted Tom Cruise to play the lead. After the success of "Batman" in 1989, 20th Century Fox decided to take a gamble on Tim Burton's quirky film idea. Burton lobbied for Depp to fill the role and thinks it worked out for the best.
For "Bad Santa," Bill Murray was the first choice to play the lead. The "Guardian" says Murray was in final negations, but he dropped out last minute because of "Lost in Translation." It only took one line, "Sweet Jews for Jesus!" to get Terry Zwigoff to want to direct the film. He says he is much more interested in dialogue than anything else.
The plot for "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was inspired by the recurring collision of holiday store decorations. In the DVD commentary, Tim Burton explains that his childhood in Burbank, California, was not marked by seasonal changes, but rather by store changes. Fall and winter were melding times of Halloween and Christmas decorations in stores eager to bank off both holidays. This, he says, planted the seed for a story about the king of Halloween intruding on Christmas.
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" is the first animated "Peanuts" special. None of the children who voiced the characters in this special are credited at the end of the film. Linus's speech about the true meaning of Christmas is actually Luke 2:8-14 from the King James translation of the Bible. Production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" ended only ten days prior to its premiere date!
"The Santa Clause" was the first film in an ongoing collaboration between director John Pasquin and Tim Allen. After this movie was made, Pasquin directed Allen in movies such as "Jungle 2 Jungle" and "Joe Somebody," as well as the television series, "Last Man Standing." There is a Mickey hidden in the moon: when Scott and his kid ride the sleigh, you can see hidden silhouettes of Mickey's head.
The man who sang the famous "Grinch" song in the animated version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," Thurl Ravenscroft, is also the voice of Tony the Tiger! Tim Burton was originally going to direct the live-action movie, but he had a scheduling conflict. Eddie Murphy and Jack Nicholson both almost got the role of the Grinch before Jim Carrey nailed it.
Although "Gremlins" has been a classic Christmas movie, because of its Christmas time setting, it was actually made in the summertime. Gizmo's voice was done by Howie Mandel. Each animatronic gremlin cost the studio between $30,000 to $40,000. During filming, Phoebe Cates, who plays Kate, was totally freaked out by the animatronic gremlins, so she would avoid them at all costs.
"Die Hard" was Alan Rickman's screen debut. That's right, it's the same guy that plays Professor Snape in "Harry Potter." Due to tourist interest in Fox Plaza, people are now not allowed to take pictures outside the building.
"It Happened on Fifth Avenue" is a comedy, directed by Roy Del Ruth, about two homeless men that move into a mansion while the owners are vacationing in the south. The story was originally optioned for Liberty Films in 1945, for director Frank Capra. However, later that year, producer-director Roy Del Ruth picked up the story.
"The Year Without a Santa Claus" is about a weary and discouraged Santa who decides to skip his Christmas Eve run one year. Mrs. Claus and Santa's Elves set out to change his mind. Mickey Rooney does the voice of Santa in this film. The name of the town that decided to cancel Christmas was Southernville, USA. The names of the two elves that Mrs. Claus sent to Southernville were Jingle and Jangle.
Without "Uncle Buck," there would be no "Home Alone." The idea for the movie "Home Alone" happened during the filming of "Uncle Buck," which also starred Macaulay Culkin. Chris Columbus wrote the part of Kevin specifically for Macaulay Culkin because of his precocious nature. He auditioned over 100 other people for the role, however.
"The Night Before" was inspired by director John Levine's own tradition. The premise of the story was his brainchild. Jonathan Levine pitched the idea to Seth Rogen and his writing partner, Evan Goldberg, while they were collaborating on the film "50/50." There are plenty of comedy cameos in "The Night Before" - for example, Miley Cyrus!
The first script for "Lethal Weapon" was originally thrown into the garbage. Shane Black, the writer, was trying to be an actor and wrote the script for "Lethal Weapon" in less than six weeks. He thought it was terrible at first, not realizing what a hit he had on his hands. Black's intent was to write an "Urban Western" mixed with "Frankenstein."
"The Polar Express" uses 3D motion capture techniques to digitally record the physical performances of the actors before "skinning" them with their animated forms. All of the children's roles were acted by adults, using oversized props so that they could get the movement right. Before the hero boy boards the Polar Express, the clock says 11:55. The time doesn't change until the first gift of Christmas is opened at the end of the movie.
Krampus is older than Jesus. He was born of a pre-Christian, Alpine Pagan tradition, and is described as a "boozy goat-horned menace that whips children around Europe." Krampus rides shotgun with Santa. In a Mexican Christmas movie, Santa Claus shows a jolly old elf thwarting the devil Pitch at every turn, protecting the children and showering them with gifts. Men in Europe are encouraged to terrify children as Krampus.
"The Ref" is a 1994 American black comedy film, directed by Ted Demme, starring Denis Leary, Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey. "The Ref" did not perform as well at the box office as Leary had hoped. He blamed the studio's method of marketing. Leary ended up making fun of himself during interviews. Pope John Paul II responded to a mention of the movie that it was supposedly vulgar and unpopular.
At one point, Nicholas Cage actually owned the Ferrari that was used in the film. He sold it about a year before the filming of "The Family Man" started. The falling snow, symbolizing the changes that are happening in Jack's life, is an homage to "It's a Wonderful Life." As Jack is bowling, he claims he jumped out of an airplane over the Mojave desert. Nicholas Cage's character actually does that in the movie "Honeymoon in Vegas."
"Prancer" is about a child, Jessica Riggs, played by Rebecca Harrel Tickell, who has recently lost her mother and is being raised by her father. She finds an injured Prancer and takes him home, then tries to nurse him back to health. Soon the town finds out about her Prancer and some very dramatic and strange events ensue. Interestingly, we venture to say that the reclusive old widow in the film is just a hidden version of a witch.
In "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," Kris Kringle doesn't say his first line until eight minutes into the film. The father of the family where Santa Claus leaves toys in stockings looks just like the king in the book Tante Kringle reads, which explains why the Kringle family makes toys. This aired on TV on ABC and ABC Family, sometimes as specials with commercials.
Burgess Meredith, who played the Penguin in the 1966 "Batman" series for television, was asked to play the Penguin's father in the opening of the film, "Batman Returns." He was ill, however, so he couldn't do it. Danny DeVito was advised by Jack Nicholson, who did quite well in the first "Batman," to take the role of Penguin. Michelle Pfeiffer went through 60 catsuits during the 6-month shoot.
Julia Roberts turned down the role of Lucy Moderatz in "While You Were Sleeping." Roberts was enjoying the success of "Pretty Woman," so she seemed like an obvious pick. Sandra Bullock was lucky Roberts turned it down! Sandra Bullock was also the first cast member to join the film. Ben Folds references this movie in his song, "From Above."
Originally in "The Bishop's Wife," Cary Grant played the Bishop and David Niven played the Angel. When William A. Seiter left the film, Henry Koster replaced him and saw what had been shot so far. He thought that the two were in the wrong roles. Cary Grant eventually conceded and accepted the role as the Angel. The name of the dog in the film is Queen.
The movie is "The Snowman." The first ever snowman documented was in the illustration from a work entitled "Book of Hours," back in 1380 - and it was found in Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague. The biggest snowman of all time - actually, a snowwoman - was created in Bethel, Maine, in 2008. The snowwoman was a whopping 122 feet tall and was called Olympia, to honor the US Senator representing the state of Maine, Olympia Snowe.
"It's a Wonderful Life" all began with a Christmas card. After years of trying to sell producers on his short story, "The Greatest Gift," Philip Van Doren Stern decided instead to send out 200 copies of his 21-page story as Christmas cards. RKO found it and decided to produce it.
The film "Scrooged" marked Bill Murray's return to film. "Scrooged" was Murray's first major role following his self-imposed four year hiatus from Hollywood. Richard Donner said many of Murray's lines were ad-libbed. He described directing Murray as, "It's like standing on 42nd street and Broadway, and the lights are out, and you're the traffic cop."
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye's comedy act, "dressed up like a dame," wasn't in the original script. But one day they were goofing around and the director Michael Curtiz thought it was so funny, he wrote it into the movie. This film marks the third time that Bing sang "White Christmas." It was originally performed on the radio show, "The Kraft Music Hall," and then in a 1942 classic called "Holiday Inn."
Set on Christmas Eve in 1944, during World War II, "Silent Night" is about a German mother and her son attempting to seek refuge in a cabin. The cabin is invaded first by three American soldiers and then by three German soldiers. She convinces the soldiers to put their differences aside and share an evening together over Christmas dinner.
According to director Bob Clark, the original script for "Black Christmas" featured murder scenes that were much more graphic. When NBC showed the film during prime time, it was deemed "too scary" for network television and was pulled off the air. Shooting the search party scenes in the park proved to be quite difficult, as the temperature was a freezing 10 degrees during the night of filming.
"The Little Drummer Boy" was originally supposed to be called "Carol of the Drum." This is a popular Christmas song written by the American classical composer and teacher, Katherine Kennicott Davis, in 1941. In the lyrics, the singer describes how, as a young boy, he was summoned by Magi to the nativity scene where, without a gift for Jesus, he played the drum with approval from the Virgin Mary. He claims it was his best drumming performance (in the song).
The film, "Joyeux Noel," is dedicated to the soldiers who fraternized on Christmas of 1914 in many different places on the front. The film was supposed to be rated R originally. However, a film critic, Roger Egbert, criticized the rating and it was changed to PG-13. The film takes place on August 4, 1914, and in December of 1914.
"Remember the Night" is an American romantic comedy. It was written by a wonderful and famous comic writer, Preston Sturges. This was the last of Sturges's scripts shot by another director, as Sturges started his own directorial career the same year, with the release of "The Great McGinty." Preston originally wanted the title of the film to be, "Great Love." Director Mitchell Leisen, who produced the film, shortened Sturges' script multiple times before and during filming.
In "The House Without a Christmas Tree," a young girl in Nebraska named Addie yearns for a Christmas tree for the holidays in 1946. Her widowed father is horrible and bitter, and he refuses to abide by her wishes because of the family's past. Addie ends up bringing the Christmas tree home from school.
"Christmas Town" is about a cynical workaholic who gets suspicious of her banker father's sudden departure from his career and city life in order to move to a small town - a small town that has unusually strong ties to Christmas. She goes to the town to search for her father and find out what is going on, then finds a town called Hollyville. It turns out to be the location of North Pole Enterprises, where Santa's elves work.
Steven Spielberg originally wanted Bill Murray and Steve Martin to play Shrek and Donkey in the "Shrek" franchise. The producer's kids are what finally got "Shrek" the green light to be made. The two children of John H. Williams loved the original story and read the book many times. Chris Farley originally played "Shrek" - he had completed about 80-95% of his dialogue for the film before he passed, and Mike Myers took over the role. "Shrek the Halls" is just a fun way of incorporating some green Christmas spirit into the holidays.
The movie, "Trading Places," was inspired by a tennis game. Screenwriter Timothy Harris presented the idea of the film as two brothers arguing over nature vs nurture. The screenwriters of the script hung out with drunk traders to do research. The traders they got to hang out with in L.A. were three hours behind New York City and therefore their happy hours started quite early.
John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale only filmed for a few days together during the shooting of "Serendipity." Much like their characters in the movie, they only saw each other for a short period of time. Following the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, images of the World Trade Center towers were digitally removed from all the skyline shots of New York City in the film. Kate Beckinsale performed her own stunts!
"Lovely, Still" is a holiday tale that tells the story of an older man discovering love for the first time. The writer and director for this film is Nik Fackler. He wanted to write a whimsical romantic tale about an elderly grocery-store bagger that experiences the pangs of first love at a ripe old age. Elizabeth Banks portrays the woman's daughter and Adam Scott plays the role of the store's owner.
To make sure the film, "The Shop Around the Corner," didn't have any of the glamour that was usually associated with him, Ernst Lubitsch went to the lengths of ordering a dress to be left in the sun to bleach and altered so that it fit poorly on Margaret Sullivan. All of the scenes for this film were shot in sequence. In the book, "Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise," Lubitsch says this was the best movie that he ever made.
"A Christmas Tale" is about the troubled Vuillard family, who are completely accustomed to illness, grief, and banishment. When their matriarch needs a bone-marrow transplant, the estranged family clan must team up and reunite just in time for Christmas. Sounds like a modern holiday take on "The Addams Family."
The story, "Jingle All the Way," is based on the 1980s shopping frenzy that happened over Cabbage Patch dolls. Chris Columbus wanted Joe Pesci to play Myron, but some thought he would look too short next to Arnold Schwarzenegger, so they dropped him from the role. You can actually buy official Turbo Man action figures, featured in the movie, on Ebay. The Wintertainment Parade was filmed at Universal Studios, in Los Angeles, in the middle of May.
James Gandolfini was ten years older than Christina Applegate, but in the film, "Surviving Christmas," she played his mother. This film was shot without a completed script. Because of this, there were delays and many arguments over what to shoot. John Favreau was offered a chance to direct, but he decided to make "Elf" %0Dinstead.
"Christmas in Boston" is a 2005 TV film, starring Marla Sokoloff and Patrick J. Adams. It aired originally in the United States on December 14, 2005, on ABC Family Channel's 25 Days of Christmas programming block. The story is that Gina and Seth become pen pals when they are in the 6th grade. 13 years later, they've still been writing to each other and have not met. She is a journalist and he is a toy inventor. When they finally meet, it's fireworks.
Christmas story tells the tale of old Saint Nik in a different light. Nikolas goes from generous young boy to the Santa Clause figure we know and love today.
"The Nativity Story" focuses on the period in Mary and Joseph's life when they journeyed to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. This is an epic biblical drama. Filming began in May in 2006, in Matera, Italy, and Ouarzazate, Morocco. Other sequences in the film were shot in Craco, a ghost town in the Italian region of Basilicata and Cinecitta, Rome.