There is nothing more enjoyable than wrapping yourself in a warm sweater or blanket and watching family movies. On the eve of the holidays, the best choice would be a film imbued with the spirit of Christmas. Today I want to talk about a film that many associate with the New Year, Christmas and the holidays. We’re talking about the 1990 American Christmas comedy Home Alone.
Few people know, but John Hughes got the idea for the film during the filming of the comedy “Uncle Buck”. In one of the episodes, Macaulay Culkin communicated with the character Amy Madigen through a slot in the letter door. So there was a specialist with robbers sneaking into the house through the door for dogs, and behind it the whole subsequent history of the film “Home Alone”.
Everyone has long known that one of the robbers, named Harry, was supposed to be played by Robert De Niro, but he refused. After that, this role was offered to Joe Pesci – and it paid off. Joe came in right after the end of Scorsese’s “Nicefellas” and couldn’t get rid of the gangster manners. During filming, he constantly said the word “Fuck”, Chris Columbus reacted to this, asking the actor to do it behind the tongue and advised him to speak fridge when Joe wants to swear again. Judging by the movie, it didn’t really help.
To make his character more realistic, Joe Pesci wanted Macaulay Culkin to be afraid of this not only on the set, but also in life, so he tried to cross with him as little as possible on the set. Once, Pesci even injured Culkin. It happened during a rehearsal scene where the robbers are hanging Kevin on a hook, and the thug Harry says, “I’m going to bite off all of his fingers – one at a time.” At that moment, the actor really bit Macaulay’s finger until it bled, after which he left a small scar.
John Candy is a longtime friend of John Hughes who has played in seven of his films. In the movie “Home Alone” he agreed to act completely free of charge, having worked all his scenes in one 23-hour shift. At the same time, his dialogues are pure improvisation, and the image is a continuation of the role from Hughes’s film “Airplane, Train, Car”. John Candy has always been a workaholic, and this was the reason for his early death. He died at the age of 43, four years after the movie Home Alone was released.
The fragment of the gangster film “Angels with Dirty Souls”, with the help of which Kevin tries to deceive the robbers, does not really exist. This is a director’s invention, which is a reference to the classic film Angels with Dirty Faces. The idea of the film-in-film is quite original, as the sequel can be seen in the second part of “Home Alone 2”. An interesting fact is that the actor Ralph Foody, who played the gangster Johnny, ended his acting career there. And after the release of the picture “Home Alone 2” he died in 1999.
Few people know that the script for the film was written specifically for Macaulay Culkin, but director Chris Columbus decided to hold the casting anyway, inviting more than a hundred young actors to it. Only after all the tests did he agree that Culkin was the best candidate for the main role.
In this film, there was another, no less talented actor Daniel Stern, who portrayed in the scene with the spider, a grimace of horror and a cry completely without sound, although he had a real tarantula on his face. That is why it was impossible to scream, since a loud sound could frighten a spider, and who knows how he would behave. But the shooting of the scene was successful the first time, after which the sound was added to it, which was recorded later.
Macaulay wasn’t the only Culkin in Home Alone. Kieran Culkin, Macaulay’s brother, starred in the role of the protagonist’s younger brother. Playing the role of Fuller, with whom Kevin refused to sleep in the same bed. For the boy, this role was the debut.
John Hughes saw Home Alone as a classic comedy, where the characters are constantly hit and fall, and the atmosphere itself resembles a real bacchanalia. Chris Columbus immediately suggested making the script more sentimental, diluting the comic picture with family history. The result is a line with Grandpa – a neighbor who also reunites with his family at the end of the film. I think this character fits well into the movie, making it more soulful.
According to the script in Kevin’s nightmare, where the stove came to life, a scene was originally conceived in which the whole house came to life. But since such filming was not cheap, they decided to just do with two scenes with a stove, which came to life with the help of two stuntmen, a line and a light.
Many famous films are often accused of plagiarism. Home Alone is no exception. According to French director Rene Mansor, John Hughes copied the whole story from his thriller “3615: The Santa Claus Code.” In this film, the young hero comes into battle with a psychopath dressed up as a Santa. Rene even tried to sue Fox, but he never achieved anything.
In 2012, doctors concluded that the injuries sustained by Harry and Marvin, based on the plot of the film, would have resulted in death! But not everything is as bad as it seemed. In the scene where Marvin climbs through the window, toys made of caramel were lying on the floor, and the actor had rubber pads on, just in case, to protect his legs from injury. The bunch that Marvin stepped on in the McCallister’s basement was also rubber, for that the iron that flew to him was completely real! But even then the actor did not suffer, for the first shot, they just threw the iron down, but to show how Daniel saw it all, he had to invent a whole structure in which the camera was attached to a cable that was released, and the camera flew right in the face actor, and stopped at the last moment. Daniel was very worried, since the camera weighed about 220 lb and could simply kill the actor.
But as for me, the most dangerous scene was the burning of Joe Pesci’s head. It was the artist-director John Muto who set Harry’s head on fire, without actually setting it on fire at all! He was just taking advantage of a good old optical illusion. John used a trick called the “pepper ghost” that the illusionists used. In fact, a glass was installed in front of the camera at an angle of 45 degrees, and the camera itself was aimed at the door. Thus, everything that fell on the glass was displayed in the frame. What we were unable to see was a black box containing a black mannequin head and a tube from which fire came out. The fire directed at the black head completely covered it, due to this, the flame seemed voluminous. If I knew that it was actually the mannequin’s head that was on fire, not the actor’s. But who would have thought
Few people noticed how Kevin was walking in the scene with the van, and if you look closely, you can see that he is walking backwards. And that’s right! Since the scene was filmed backwards. This is evidenced by the smoke from the exhaust pipe, which is sucked back into the car.
And the van, before stopping, attracts the scarf in itself, and not away from itself.
In all the dangerous scenes where Kevin fell, flew on a zipline, or rode a sled up the steps, he is dubbed 30-year-old Larry Nicholas. It was the sledding scene that was one of the most dangerous and that’s why. A ski jump was built in the house, and as an experiment, an empty sled was launched, they flew out of the house about 32 meters and most likely killed the one who was sitting on them. Therefore, a cable with a brake system and a mattress were added. At first the sled was going too slowly, but at the very end the brakes were pulled out and the sled flew beautifully out of the doors. Most importantly, no one was hurt while filming this scene.
There are many more interesting facts about this film, for example, the rumored poster for the film “Home Alone” where Macaulay screams, was created based on the picture of Edvard Munch “Scream”. How do you like this turn? But until today, I did not attach any importance to this, although the box with the video cassette is still from the 90s
Thanks for attention 🙂