The Cast Of Christmas Vacation Wore Cue Cards For Chevy Chase To Nail His Holiday Meltdown Scene

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If you’re looking for any last-minute gift ideas for Clark Griswold, he has one suggestion. The rant that ensues is not only the highlight of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” but it’s one of the most memorable tirades to be associated with the holiday season. Bonus: it’s also currently streaming on HBO Max.

It’s Christmas Eve 1989, and Griswold (Chevy Chase) has lost his cool. After his snooty boss gifts him a subscription to the “Jelly of the Month” club instead of the annual bonus he was counting on, the family man of the “National Lampoon” magazine’s “Vacation” movie series drowns his sorrows in eggnog and proceeds to unleash a fantastic, cathartic 30-second rhapsody of swears and insults –- all in front of wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and his family. Behold:

Speaking with Brendan Francis Newman in 2015, D’Angelo — who considers the “Vacation” films to be more like rom-coms than anything else — looked back on the scene and the way Chase’s eyeline bounces from person to person during his tirade. The reason being? Cue cards:

“This particular scene, it was blocked in a way that would allow each of us to have around our necks a piece of rope that was attached to a big cue card. The rant was divided into sections so that he could go all the way through from the beginning to end without a chance of forgetting his lines or flipping his lines. They were all right there. So we didn’t have the lines in order exactly, and if you watch it you can see him [laughs]. His eyes go from character to character as he’s going on in the speech because we’ve got the lines there.”

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Beverly D’Angelo was quick to defend her co-star’s acting abilities, explaining that the best way for the rant to have a free-flowing delivery was to make each of Clark’s 23 uttered insults readily available for Chevy Chase, making the deluge of anger different for each take –- a not-so-jolly form of verbal jazz. She explained:

“You hear those stories about how Marlon Brando would wear an earpiece, or he’d have like his lines stuck on the ceiling, or in a bowling ball, or something like that. So, I want to make it clear that the fact that we were wearing cue cards was not about any actor’s incompetence. It had to do with our knowledge that the way to have Chevy sail was to have it there at his fingertips in case he needed it.”

To be fair, Griswold, by this point in the movie, has had a rough holiday. The throughline in all the “Vacation” movies is that Clark just wants to create happy memories with his family; its origins lie in a satirical John Hughes article that would provide the cornerstones of the first of the film series, “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.” “Christmas Vacation” is the third installment, which sees the Griswolds beset with a series of unfortunate events that threaten Clark’s mission to have a “fun, old-fashioned family Christmas” in their Chicago home. The tree? Aflame. The lights? Unstable. The cat? Electrocuted. Septic tank? Full. By the time Griswold’s employer, Frank Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray), stiffs him on his yearly holiday bonus, it’s the block that brings the whole Jenga tower down. It’s just not Christmas until someone has quoted the Clark Griswold meltdown.

Hallelujah, holy ****! Now, where’s the Tylenol?

Read this next: The 50 Best Christmas Movies Of All Time, Ranked

The post The Cast of Christmas Vacation Wore Cue Cards For Chevy Chase To Nail His Holiday Meltdown Scene appeared first on /Film.

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