HOME ALONE, written by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, is celebrating 30 years of holiday hijinks. This memorable comedic classic features the timeless music of AFI Life Achievement Award recipient John Williams.
AFI Movie Club: HOME ALONE
As the film marks its 30th anniversary, watch director Chris Columbus discuss making HOME ALONE in this exclusive conversation.
DID YOU KNOW? Although snow fell naturally during filming of HOME ALONE, filmmakers had to provide artificial snow in order to maintain a uniform look throughout the film. That meant the production had to get rid of 375 tons of real snow and replace it with 360 tons of shaved ice, 6,250 yards of snow blanket, 11,000 gallons of airport runway foam, 6,000 pounds of potato flakes, 1,000 pounds of mini-fibers and polyurethane snow.
DID YOU KNOW? All of HOME ALONE was filmed in the Chicago area. The exterior of the McCallister home is in suburban Winnetka and O’Hare International Airport stood in for both itself and the Orly Airport in Paris. Production also took over an old high school in Northfield, IL to build the house’s interior sets and the American Airlines airplane. The home’s flooded basement was built in the school’s swimming pool.
DID YOU KNOW? Scary Old Man Marley was not in the original script of HOME ALONE. Director Chris Columbus added the character to help bring a serious layer to counterbalance the comedy in the film and to teach Kevin lessons about forgiveness and the importance of family.
DID YOU KNOW? At the end of HOME ALONE, when Kevin is hanging from the coat hook and Joe Pesci’s character threatens to bite off all his fingers, Macauley Culkin has said that Pesci actually bit him during a rehearsal – hard enough that the young actor bled, and he still has a scar on his finger from the incident.
DID YOU KNOW? HOME ALONE was set to be produced and released by Warner Bros., but production was halted when it went over its initial budget. Writer/producer John Hughes convinced 20th Century Fox to pick up the film, and it went on to be a huge success – holding the No. 1 spot at the North American box office for a staggering 12 weekends in a row and remaining in the top 10 spot until June 1991.
DID YOU KNOW? Writer/producer John Hughes did not want the actors on HOME ALONE to stray from the script, but he allowed his own rule to be broken when John Candy came in to shoot his scenes as the Polka King. According to director Chris Columbus, the entire scene of Candy describing his band to Catherine O’Hara is improvised.
DID YOU KNOW? John Candy worked on HOME ALONE as a favor to John Hughes, but only had one day to shoot all of his scenes. That one day of work lasted a full 23 hours, for which Candy was paid “scale” – $414 at the time, which amounted to less than the actor who played the fleeting role of “pizza boy.”
DID YOU KNOW? HOME ALONE received two Academy Award® nominations in the categories of Best Original Score and Best Original Song – with both nominations going to AFI Life Achievement Award recipient John Williams. Williams shared the latter nomination with Leslie Bricusse, who wrote the lyrics.
Learn more at the AFI Catalog.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions
- Why does the family forget Kevin when leaving for the airport? What is the worst thing you have left behind when traveling?
- What makes HOME ALONE such a holiday classic? Why do you keep going back to watch the film each year?
- How does Kevin’s attitude towards his family change during the course of the movie? What changes it?
- How does Kevin learn not to judge people based on appearances?
- What does this film teach us about the importance of family? Why is this lesson even more important in today’s cultural and political landscape?
- Why are the burglars called the Wet Bandits? Why is this name so important to Marv?
- How would you rate HOME ALONE?
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