Christmas season is in full swing. You’ve probably done some shopping, maybe on Black Friday, or maybe you haven’t done any shopping, and you’re panicking (relax, you’ve still got tons of time). You might have gotten a tree, and you may have also gotten around to decorating it (gotta find those ornaments!).
So now’s the time to start watching A Christmas Story on repeat every single day until December 25. It’s not really Christmas until you’ve seen the kid in the movie get his tongue stuck to the pole. And while you’re at it, why not re-watch some other Christmas classics, like A Charlie Brown Christmas, the old standard It’s a Wonderful Life, and the perfectly hilarious Elf? Break out the wrapping paper, the eggnog and candy canes, and immerse yourself in Christmas. But first, check out these behind-the-scenes facts about the films and see the movies in a whole different light.
1. In Elf, all of the elaborate Christmas decorations in the store took the art department weeks to build, so the fight between Buddy and the mall Santa had to be done in one take.
2. In The Polar Express, Josh Hutcherson did all the motion-capture work for Hero Boy, while Daryl Sabara provided the voice.
3. In Love Actually, they originally shot an additional (and heartbreaking) storyline that included the school’s headmistress and her partner, who was battling a terminal illness.
Writer-director Richard Curtis revealed in the DVD extras that the scenes ultimately had to be cut, but you can watch one of them here.
4. In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, both Eddie Murphy and Jack Nicholson were originally considered for the role of the Grinch.
5. In Home Alone, the prop department originally created a fake tarantula to put on Daniel Stern’s face, but the director made them use a real one.
20th Century Fox
Also, there’s a rumor that Daniel Stern mimed his scream during the scene, but that’s not actually true! While prepping for the scene, the animal trainer on set said, “Just don’t make any sudden, threatening moves, and you’ll be fine.” Daniel responded, “But I’m going to be screaming in Barry’s face. Do you think he’ll feel threatened by that?!” The animal trainer simply said, “Barry doesn’t have ears. He can’t hear. Relax.”
6. In The Nightmare Before Christmas, one single minute of footage took about a week to shoot, and the whole stop motion movie took three years to make.
7. In It’s a Wonderful Life, writer-director Frank Capra helped create a new type of artificial snow because the current movie method (using Cornflakes that were painted white) was too noisy when the actors had to walk in scenes.
This new technique made filming a lot easier for Capra, rather than having to film the picture and audio separately and dub it in later. It also earned Russell Shearman and his team a special Technical Achievement Award at the Oscars.
8. In Miracle on 34th Street, the parade scenes were shot on location during the 1946 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which meant they only got one morning to film everything.
20th Century Fox
Maureen O’Hara wrote in her autobiography that Edmund Gwenn, who won an Oscar for playing Kris Kringle in the movie, actually played Santa in the 1946 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, because that was the only way they’d be able to get the necessary shots for the movie.
9. In How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Jim Carrey had to complete torture-endurance training from the CIA to help him get through the daily 8.5 hours of Grinch makeup.
10. In Four Christmases, the ticket agent was actually played by Peter Billingsley, aka Ming Ming from Elf and Ralphie from A Christmas Story.
New Line Cinema, MGM
11. In A Charlie Brown Christmas, one of the producers wasn’t thrilled with a cut of the Christmas special and suggested that they add a laugh track, causing Charles M. Schulz to walk out of the room.
Schulz got his way, but apparently they created a version of A Charlie Brown Christmas with a laugh track as a backup, just in case the original didn’t perform well, ratings-wise.
12. In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Donald Trump would only give the production team a permit to film in the Plaza Hotel, which he owned at the time, if they wrote him into the movie.
20th Century Fox
Matt Damon revealed that this was actually really common: “The deal was that if you wanted to shoot in one of his buildings, you had to write him in a part. Martin Brest had to write something in Scent of a Woman — and the whole crew was in on it. You have to waste an hour of your day with a bullshit shot: Donald Trump walks in and Al Pacino’s like, “Hello, Mr. Trump!” — you had to call him by name — and then he exits. You waste a little time so that you can get the permit, and then you can cut the scene out. But I guess in Home Alone 2 they left it in.”