“All my life I’ve wanted to have a big family Christmas.” –Clark Griswold
In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) gets his wish for a big family Christmas. When his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) worries that it might not be quite as perfect as he imagines, he says, “Christmas is about resolving differences and seeing through the petty problems of family life.” He spends the rest of the movie trying to do just that!
Christmas Vacation was based on a short story written by John Hughes called “Christmas ’59.” It was the second Vacation story to be published in National Lampoon’s Magazine (the first was “Vacation ’58,” the basis for the first Vacation movie).
The movie premiered in 1989, and it shows in all of the wallpaper and fabric choices in the house.
The movie was called National Lampoon’s Winter Holiday in the U.K.
When a squirrel gets loose in the house, Clark’s mother faints in the living room and we get a good look at that green carpet:
A sequel may be in the works that would feature Clark and Ellen’s son Rusty as he takes his own children on a vacation. (Johnny Galecki, who played Rusty in this movie, is now all grown up and stars in the popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory.)
The interiors were filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.
The exteriors were shot on the Warner Bros. back lot in Burbank.
When daughter Audrey (Juliette Lewis) complains about having to give up her room to the visiting relatives, Ellen says, “I don’t know what to say except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.”
I love this bank of windows in the kitchen. We really loved plaid in the ’80s, didn’t we?
Eric, a reader who sent me rare interior photos of the real Home Alone house, sent me info on this one, too:
The Griswold house is actually an exterior set on “Blondie Street” on a Warner Brothers back lot in Burbank, CA, as is Todd and Margo’s house (the neighbors next door). The house has been altered a lot to serve other movies, especially the interiors, which are also only a set, not a real house.
In one of the virtual tours on Warner Bros. website, you can see what appears to be the Griswold foyer set as it looks today (update: it looks like they’ve taken the virtual tour down). I took a snapshot to compare the two.
The staircase in the movie:
The staircase shown in the virtual tour today:
You can see a photo of the exterior of the house as it looks today here. You can tell it’s the Christmas Vacation house by the two chimneys and the attached garage. Windows and colors and a few other things have been changed, however.
According to the Warner Bros. website, Blondie Street was built to look like a suburban neighborhood. It has also been home to many movies and TV series, including Pleasantville, Bewitched, The Partridge Family, and now The Middle. There are 12 residential homes on the street in a variety of styles.
In this long shot looking down the street, you can see the house that was used for Sergeant Murtaugh’s (Danny Glover’s) family in the Lethal Weapon movies:
Here’s a close-up of Danny Glover’s house that I took from the first Lethal Weapon movie. To the right of it, you can see Samantha and Darrin’s place in Bewitched.
When Clark watches old family movies in the attic, which are supposedly from the 1950s, they used the exterior of the old Bewitched house for his childhood home:
How the Bewitched house looked on the sitcom (you can see my post about it here):
The Griswolds’ house before…
…and after the lights (finally) come on:
Bet you can spot the Griswold house from the sky:
Do you feel the need to watch this movie every December to get into the holiday mood? I have several Christmas movies like this that are annual must-sees in our family, including the ones I’ve written about below!