Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been adapted, oh probably about 200 or so times. Everyone from Kelsey Grammer to Fred Flintstone has put on Ebenezer Scrooge’s top hat, and at this point, Tiny Tim’s tale of woe has become more than a little stale. Yet, somehow in 1988, the holiday classic got a fresher remake than audiences had seen in decades when Bill Murray slipped into the character of Frank Cross, a cynical TV executive who’s only concern was making a buck on Christmas Eve.
The movie marked Bill Murray’s return to starring in comedies after a four-year hiatus, incorporating the actor’s trademark sarcasm and deadpan delivery along with twisted TV holiday special spoofs like The Night the Reindeer Died. In honor of Bill Murray breathing new life into the Dickens classic so we have one watchable version this holiday season, here are 10 facts you might not know about Scrooged…
1. Carol Kane has a serious grip. When Carol Kane grabbed Bill Murray’s lip, she did so with such force that it actually injured him, tearing his lip and halting production for a few days.
2. Bill Murray references a previous role. At the end of the film when everyone is singing “Put a little love in your hear,” Frank yells out “Feed me, Seymour.” This is a reference to the giant man-eating plant in one of Billy Murray’s previous films, Little Shop of Horrors.
3. One movie, four Murrays. Scrooged is packed with Murrays as all three of Bill Murray’s brothers appear in the movie. John Murray plays on-screen brother James, Brian Doyle-Murray plays the temperamental father, and Joel Murray plays a party guest.
4. The street carolers were made up of musical legends. The street carolers that Frank chastises were led by Late Show band leader Paul Schaffer and consisted of jazz greats Miles Davis, Larry Carlton, and David Sanborn.
5. Sam Kinison was considered for the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past. The part eventually went to actor David Johansen who was friends with Billy Murray. Sam was also frustrated that his rival Bobcat Goldthwait landed a role in the movie and voiced his opinion on the matter with Howard Stern.
6. Bill Murray called Roger Ebert out on Scrooged’s one star review. Roger Ebert interviewed Bill two years after Scrooged came out when Bill was promoting the very underrated Quick Change and naturally, the topic of Scrooged came up.
“How do you plan to explain your one-star review of Scrooged?”
“I was hoping it wouldn’t come up,” I said.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Murray said. “It had some good stuff in it. Watch it on video and you’ll see.”
“It just didn’t work for me,” I said.
“I thought maybe you had some inside information, you know, about an unhappy set or something,” he said.
“No,” I said, “it just didn’t seem that funny.”
7. Bill Murray was concerned about the movie being a flop. Scrooged was Bill’s return in a lead role after a four-year hiatus from the movie industry after critics gave his first dramatic role, The Razor’s Edge, less than stellar reviews. Director Richard Donner described working with the actor as a trying, but rewarding experience.
[On working with Bill Murray] “It’s like standing on 42nd Street and Broadway, and the lights are out, and you’re the traffic cop. He was nervous. He’d do anything to avoid getting in front of the camera. He’d tell stories. One minute he’s got his wardrobe on, next he’s running around the set without any clothes on.
8. Belle Cab Company is a nod to the Charles Dickens’ novel. The cab that the Ghost of Christmas Past drives belongs to the Belle Cab Company. Belle happened to be the name of Ebenezer Scrooge’s first love in the original Charles Dickens novel.
9. Bill Murray based Frank Cross’ outlook on The New York Post’s headlines. Bill Murray told the New York Times that his personal favorite version of Scrooge was the old Mr. Magoo cartoon version, but he based Frank Cross’ outlook on the world and approach to TV programming on the crass headlines that regularly appear in the NY Post.
“I’ve seen TV from behind the scenes,” Murray continues, “so I draw from that a bit to expose its hypocrisies. As with Frank, most of TV’s programming ideas come from the afternoon edition of The New York Post. He’s a crumb, a pig, yet audiences who know the story know he’s gonna change.”
10. The movie was marketed with a Ghostbusters reference. Early on in the film’s promotion, Paramount marketed the movie as Bill Murray’s return to working with ghosts by referencing his earlier film Ghostbusters with the tagline, “Bill Murray is back among the ghosts, only this time, it’s three against one.” The line was eventually dropped and switched with Frank Cross’ line ” now more than ever, it’s to remember the true meaning of Xmas.”