Fun Facts about 'National Lampoon's Vacation' for its 40th Anniversary

National Lampoon's Vacation was released on July 17, 1983 starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, and Randy Quaid. The film was a box office success, grossing over $60 million worldwide and has since become a cult classic. National Lampoon's Vacation is widely considered as one of the best comedies of the 1980s, full of memorable characters, quotable lines, and hilarious moments.

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The film received positive reviews from critics and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Chevy Chase was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a thumbs up and three stars out of four, writing, "National Lampoon's Vacation is a funny, amiable comedy about a family on a cross-country trip. It's not as wild and outrageous as some of the other Lampoon movies, but it's a lot more likable." Ebert's counterpart Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune agreeed, also giving a thumbs up and three stars out of four, writing, "National Lampoon's Vacation is a funny, sometimes touching comedy about a family on a cross-country trip. The movie is full of good gags and Chevy Chase is very funny as the father who is determined to have a perfect vacation."

National Lampoon's Vacation has spawned a number of sequels including National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985), National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) Vegas Vacation (1997) and Vacation (2015). The plot of the films mainly revolve around patriarch Clark Griswold attempting to plan the perfect vacation for his family. Of course, circumstances during the trip cause the family to alter their plans. In National Lampoon's Vacation, Clark plans a cross-country road trip to the amusement park Wally World. Of course, once they arrive the family discovers "Sorry, folks! We're closed for two weeks to clean and repair America's favorite family fun park." In Vegas Vacation, plans are diverted after losing their money at the casino. If only Clark had free demos at iGaming MI, he might have been more successful with his vacation money.

Celebrating the original film for it's 40th anniversary, here are some fun facts you might not have known:

  • The film was based on a short story written by John Hughes titled Vacation '58, which was originally published in National Lampoon magazine. Hughes also wrote the screenplay.

  • The film's director, Harold Ramis, was originally reluctant to cast Chevy Chase in the lead role. He felt that Chase was too much of a comedic actor and that he wouldn't be able to take the role seriously. However, Chase eventually won Ramis over and gave a performance that is now considered one of the best of his career.

  • The film was originally supposed to be a sequel to the 1978 film National Lampoon's Animal House, but Hughes decided to make it a stand-alone film instead.

Stevegriswold, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • The Griswold family's car, a 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon known as "The Family Truckster," was actually owned by Chevy Chase.

  • The film's director Harold Ramis is the voice of Marty Moose in the recorded message that says Walley World is closed for maintenance.

  • Imogene Coca originally turned down the roll of Aunt Edna because she didn't think she could portray a mean character. Even during filming, she was concerned that she was acting too mean to the cast members.

  • Many scenes in the film were improvised, including Clark's dance with his sandwich, Clark's send-off to Aunt Edna, and Rusty chugging the beer.

  • Cast members had terrible experiences when filming the scenes inside Walley World. In the commentary, Chevy Chase mentions that many of the rides made him and the other cast members vomit, especially since they all had to ride them several times for each take. Dana Barron mentioned in the commentary that she had to take motion sickness pills and would pass out on nearby benches between takes. Anthony Michael Hall mentions that in the shots on the roller coaster, he wasn't acting and was genuinely fearful of the rides.

  • The film's original ending was much darker than the one that was released. In the original ending, the Griswolds never make it to Walley World and Clark has a nervous breakdown.

What are your favorite scenes or lines from National Lampoon's Vacation?

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