15 Little-Known Facts About National Lampoon’s European Vacation

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S EUROPEAN VACATION, Jason Lively, Dana Hill, Beverly D’Angelo, Chevy Chase, 1985

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Pack up the family truckster and head out for some family fun with the Griswolds! Here are a few facts we learned about their European Vacation.

1. It’s Solely a Griswold Family Affair

European Vacation is the only movie in the Vacation series that doesn’t feature Randy Quaid’s Cousin Eddie character and his family.

2. Walley World Makes an Appearance

The t-shirt and sweatshirt that Clark wears throughout the movie are from Walley World, the fictional, Disney-like amusement park the family drives to in the original Vacation movie.

3. Rusty Was Almost the Same Actor as the First Movie

In the Vacation series, the Griswold children famously change actors with each movie—but Anthony Michael Hall, who played Rusty in the original Vacation, was set to reprise his role in European Vacation. Before shooting started, however, Hall dropped out to star in the movie Weird Science (he was replaced by Jason Lively). Weird Science happens to be written and directed by John Hughes, who wrote the original short story that inspired the series and the screenplays for Vacation, European Vacation, and Christmas Vacation.

4. A Member of Monty Python Kept Popping Up

The bike rider whom Clark hits with his car in London, and who pops up again in Rome, is none other than Eric Idle, a founding member of the great Monty Python comedy troupe. His line about his injuries only being a “flesh wound” is a nod to the famous Black Knight scene from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

5. Eric Idle and Chevy Chase Came Up with an Idea for the Third Vacation Movie… and Then Scrapped It

Following European Vacation, the two created initial drafts of a third Vacation movie called Australian Vacation, but the movie was scrapped as they moved on to other projects. Chase also allegedly wrote a script for a new movie called Swiss Family Griwold about the family going on a cruise.

6. Griswold or Griswald?

European Vacation is the movie in which Griswold is spelled “Griswald.”

7. We Finally Find Out What the “W” Is in Clark W. Griswold

A passport seen in the opening credits reveals the W stands for “Wilhelm.”


8. Chevy Chase Brought a Lot of His Own Stuff with Him

Chase provided most of his own wardrobe, including Clark’s camcorder.

9. Clark’s Hat Was Inspired by a Classic Character

Clark’s bucket hat was meant to resemble a similar hat worn by M. Hulot, the legendary comedic character played by actor/director Jacques Tati. Chase has said that the master of physical comedy was one of his influences for his performance as Clark Griswold.

10. Mr. Froeger Is a Cult Icon

The head of the brainy family that challenges the Griswold’s on the Pig in a Poke game show is played by Paul Bartel, the writer, actor, and director behind such cult films as Eating Raoul and Death Race 2000. He also appeared in more than 90 films, including Tim Burton’s 1984 film, Frankenweenie, the Ramones movie Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, John Carpenter’s Escape from LA, and Caddyshack II.

And you probably recognize Pig in a Poke’s touchy-feely host, too: Kent was played by John Astin, the original Gomez Addams in the Addams Family TV show.

11. The Hills Were Alive with the Sound of Griswold

The dream sequence where Clark sings his spoof of The Sound of Music were shot at the same alpine locations as Julie Andrews did in the 1959 musical.

12. Stonehenge Was Fake

The production wasn’t allowed to shoot at the real Stonehenge, so they created a two-thirds scale model of the original nearby in order to shoot the scene where the Griswolds knock the stones over. Each slab was outfitted with a timed hydraulic mechanism to create the practical effect of them tipping over.

13. Chevy Chase Is Sparky

Sparky, Ellen’s pet name for Clark, was Chase’s nickname in real life.

14. Germany Was Actually Italy

A German-speaking Italian town was used to shoot the Germany-set scenes.

15. Rusty’s California Girl Is Rock Royalty

The American girl that Rusty meets in Rome is played by Moon Unit Zappa, daughter of legendary rock musician Frank Zappa. Aubrey’s boyfriend Jack, meanwhile, was played by William Zabka, better known as Johnny the antagonist at the Cobra Kai dojo in The Karate Kid.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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