They’ll make you laugh out loud, choke back tears, and sigh “aww.” But what’s better? Watching holiday classics always feels a little bit like going home. The brilliant screenwriters behind the most quotable lines are experts at tapping into all the fuzzy feelings and building relatable scenes that make us belly laugh like Santa, but these brilliant writers rarely get the spotlight. So, in this holiday edition blog, we’re rattling off the best holiday movie quotes AND the writers who penned them, bringing the most wonderful time of the year to life on screen.
We couldn’t pick just one quote! Home Alone tapped into every child’s dream (no rules!) and nightmare (bad guys!) all at once. Written by the late screenwriter John Hughes (Planes, Trains & Automobiles, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Uncle Buck), the movie spawned several sequels and launched actor Macaulay Culkin’s career.
Kate McCallister: “This is Christmas. The season of perpetual hope. And I don’t care if I have to get out on your runway and hitchhike. If it costs me everything I own, if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself, I am going to get home to my son.”
Kevin McCallister: “This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back? No toys. Nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie, and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And if he has time, my Uncle Frank. Okay?”
Love Actually is a romantic comedy that reminds us we’re all connected, just like the characters in the all-star cast. Screenwriter Richard Curtis has mastered the rom-com: He has writing credits on Bridget Jones Diary, Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
Our favorite Curtis line comes to life when the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) ponders love and airports in the opening scene of the movie.
Prime Minister: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge — they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
A Christmas Story
Convincing Santa – and your parents – that a BB gun is the perfect Christmas gift is no easy feat, as one of our favorite holiday characters Ralphie finds out in A Christmas Story. The screenplay was based on the novel “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash” by Jean Shepard (1921-1999), who also narrated the film. Ralphie’s character is semi-autobiographical. Shepard had help writing the script from his wife, screenwriter Leigh Brown (1939-1998) and screenwriter Bob Clark (1939-2007).
Ralphie: “No, no! I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.”
Santa: “You’ll shoot your eye out kid.”
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Another John Hughes comedy, another Christmas gone wrong. And with Chevy Chase as the star, there’s no shortage of hilarious line deliveries in this 80s Christmastime must-watch. But did you know? When Hughes originally wrote the story, it wasn’t a screenplay at all. Instead, it was a short story called “Christmas ’59,” published in National Lampoon Magazine. You can read the original text here. Several years later, he adapted it to the famous screenplay it is today, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Eddie: “You surprised to see us, Clark?”
Clark: “Surprised Eddy? If I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”
It’s a Wonderful Life!
Screenwriters hear the notion all the time: Your script may be rejected 100 times, but it only takes one ‘yes’ to make it big. And that’s how we got one of the most famous holiday movies of all time: It’s a Wonderful Life! Writer Philip Van Doren was tired of unsuccessfully shopping his short story “The Greatest Gift,” so, according to film historian Mary Owen, he printed out 200 copies of the story and sent them as 21-page Christmas cards to his friends and family. A producer got hold of a copy and purchased the movie rights for $10,000. Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, Jo Swerling, and Michael Wilson would all go on to earn writer credits on the final screenplay.
Clarence: “Remember George, no man is a failure who has friends.”
Turn on your TV during December, and you’ll surely to find Elf playing. The holiday classic is chock-full of hilarious scenes, some of which were adlibbed, but most of which were written by screenwriter David Berenbaum (The Haunted Mansion, The Spiderwick Chronicles). In a 2018 interview with Variety for the film’s 15th anniversary, Berenbaum said his inspiration for the screenplay came after moving to Los Angeles from the east coast. “It was very comforting to write a Christmas movie when you missed the snow, and there’s a heatwave outside,” he said in the interview. “I loved the idea of someone who didn’t fit in, who set out to find his place in the world.”
Buddy: “So dad, I planned out our day. First, we’ll make snow angels for two hours. And then we’ll go ice skating. And then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie Dough as fast as we can and then, to finish, we’ll snuggle.”
Great Christmas movies have a way of finding a place in our hearts and homes for decades. We celebrate the screenwriters past and present who help us ring in the holiday season every year!
Happy holidays from SoCreate!
Courtney Meznarich, Director of Community Outreach