“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.
The Living Room:
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:
The interiors were filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.
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.”
Makes me laugh every time.
I love this bank of windows in the kitchen. We really loved plaid in the ’80s, didn’t we?
The exteriors were shot on the Warner Bros. back lot in Burbank.
Remember The Amazing Eric, who sent me rare interior photos and floor plans of the real Home Alone house? He helped me with the research for this house, too. He says:
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. You can take a virtual tour of Blondie Street here.
In one of the virtual tours on that site, you can see what appears to be the Griswold foyer set as it looks today. I took a snapshot to compare the two. The staircase as seen in the movie:
And the staircase on the virtual tour, without the wallpaper and furnishings:
You can see a photo of the exterior of the house as it looks today here. Eric says 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 American Beauty, Pleasantville, Gidget, Bewitched, The Partridge Family, and Eight is Enough. There are 12 residential homes on the street in a variety of styles (some with practical interiors).
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 a house that looks like Samantha and Darrin’s 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:
The Griswolds’ house before…
…and after the lights (finally) come on:
Bet you can spot the Griswold house from the sky:
E! Online reports that a sequel may be in the works. It 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.) No word on whether Chevy Chase or Beverly D’Angelo would make an appearance.
Read my post about another Chevy Chase comedy: Funny Farm.