Bill Murray and director Richard Donner reportedly did not enjoy working together creating a lot of tension on set. When asked by film critic Roger Ebert if he had any disagreements with Donner, Murray replied: "Only a few. Every single minute of the day. That could have been a really, really great movie. The script was so good. There's maybe one take in the final cut movie that is mine. We made it so fast, it was like doing a movie live. He kept telling me to do things louder, louder, louder. I think he was deaf."
When Frank throws water on the waiter he sees burning, he says, "I'm sorry. You know I thought you were Richard Pryor." This is a reference to an event in Pryor's life when, high on cocaine, the comedian poured alcohol over his body and set himself on fire and ran down a busy street in LA.
When The Ghost of Christmas Present first appears in the movie, she says to Frank Cross, "I'm a little muddled." This is a direct quote from Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz (1939) when she first meets Dorothy in Munchkinland.
One of the special appearances in "Scrooged" was that of legendary actor, John Houseman. Sadly, he died on October 31, 1988, less than one month before "Scrooged" was released in theaters on November 23rd.
Charles Dickens' 1843 novella "A Christmas Carol" is only ever referred to under the title of "Scrooge" in this movie but in the closing credits it is named under its main and original title of "A Christmas Carol".
During the restaurant scene, a closeup of Frank's wristwatch shows the date is November 23, even though it is supposed to be Christmas Eve. This date is significant, however, for being the film's theatrical release date in the U.S..
Preston tells Frank that in America there are 27 million cats, 48 million dogs and then says quite seriously that IBC needs to start gearing programming towards them. As of 2015, there are several dog and cat specific channels on Roku that supply dedicated pet programming bassed on scientific studies of what interests them.
The movie was the second ghost picture comedy that star Bill Murray made. Wikipedia states, "the film was marketed with references to Ghostbusters (1984) which had been a great success four years earlier. In the U.S.A., the tagline was, "Bill Murray is back among the ghosts, only this time, it's three against one".
Following the breakup of the New York Dolls, bassist Arthur Kane had fallen on hard times, envious of the success of his fellow band mates. Kane was in his apartment watching the film, when he saw David Johansen's cameo onscreen as the Ghost of Christmas Past. This pushed him over the edge and resulted in him attempting suicide by jumping out his third story apartment window.
When Frank tells the ghost of Lew Hayward, "You're a legend in this business", Hayward replies, "Mankind should have been my business!" This is a paraphrase of a line spoken by Jacob Marley (the character Hayward is based on) in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".
ACTOR_TRADEMARK(Bill Murray): [bark like a dog]: Murray says that another character will "bark like a dog." He also said this in Caddyshack (1980), and later said it again in Groundhog Day (1993) as well as in Ghostbusters (1984).
There are many references to "Free Africa" throughout the movie, including a poster on the wall in Grace's house as well as a sticker in the production room. This was a subliminal political/humanitarian reference to Apartheid controversy which was taking place in South Africa at the time the movie was being shot.
The names of the Christmas television shows from the IBC Network of which clips were shown were "Scrooge", "Father Loves Beaver", "The Night the Reindeer Died" and "Bob Goulet's Old Fashioned Cajun Christmas". The network's promotional slogan for these TV shows was "Yule Love It!".
One of the final films of actress Anne Ramsey and the final film of both unit production manager and associate / executive producer Roger M. Rothstein and art department set construction coordinator Robert Scaife.
Before Bill Murray signed on, he requested that the script be re-worked. "We tore up the script so badly that we had parts all over the lawn," Murray told Starlog. "There was a lot I didn't like. To remake the story, we took the romantic element and built that up a little more. It existed in the script's original version, but we had to make more out of it. The family scenes were kind of off, so we worked on that."
First of two consecutive "ghost" movies in two consecutive years for star Bill Murray, who would, the following year, co-star in Ghostbusters II (1989). Murray had starred in Ghostbusters (1984) four years earlier.
The street to which the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Frank Cross is 41st Drive in Woodside, Queens, NY. It is mostly unchanged from 1955 when the scene is set and from 1988 when the movie is set. As of 2016, the house they enter is still standing.
The movie's title is a play-on-words of the last name of Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens' 1843 novella "A Christmas Carol", which inspired this modern adaptation parody. "Scrooge" has also been the title of some of the films adapted from that work.
Grace and her family appear to live in Long Island City in New York. This is evident in a scene when Grace and Calvin are coming off the subway. If you look, you can see the sign for their stop is 45th St- Courthouse Sq, which is a stop in Long Island City on the E train line.
Bill Murray ad-libbed most of his lines. In a 1988 interview with Philadelphia Daily News, Richard Donner discussed Murray's penchant for improvisation and described the experience of directing Murray as follows: "It's like standing on 42nd Street and Broadway, and the lights are out, and you're the traffic cop."
Bill Murray had previously been approached about the film two years earlier. At that point, he wasn't ready to jump back into the moviemaking fold just yet. "But when I wanted to work, the scripts were just not good," Murray told Starlog Magazine in a 1989 interview.
According to Bill Murray, a lot of footage ended up on the cutting room floor. "We shot a big, long sloppy movie, so there's a great deal of material that didn't even end up in the film," Murray told Starlog. "It just didn't work. You tend to forget what was wrong. It's hard. I just figured that anyone who's good could step into this part and have a lot of fun with it. It's sort of a wicked character. The idea of making a funny Scrooge was an inspired touch. That's what was appealing to me about it."
Richard Donner initially had reservations about turning A Christmas Carol into a comedy. "It's a thin line. But you have two of the most irreverent writers in the world. You have the most irreverent humorist since W.C. Fields. And you say, 'Let's go!' There's a thin line you walk, but the line is broken-hopefully-in the end of the picture when you see a man evolve out of a situation."
Richard Donner wasn't convinced that Robert Mitchum would agree to a small part, so he invited the actor to meet with Bill Murray. Donner recalled, "He came in and we never got a word in edgewise. He's so wonderful with stories and we didn't want to talk ... The minute you get around Bill, you're swooning. Everybody is."
It wasn't until 2011 that Danny Elfman's score was released. The album, which was limited to just 3000 copies, contained a total of 34 tracks, not all of which were included in the film. The final track is a bonus track that was actually created for Trading Places (1983).
In the telecast within the movie, one of A Christmas Carol's selling points is that it will feature the Solid Gold Dancers as The Scroogettes. The movie would mark the small-screen dance group's final aired performance, as _Solid Gold_ the television series had been cancelled back in July.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
At the end of the movie, when everybody is singing "Put a little love in your heart", Frank (Bill Murray) says (among many other things): "Feed me, Seymour!" This is a reference to Little Shop of Horrors (1986), in which Murray has a small part.
When Frank crashes onto the stage after seeing frozen Herman, director Brice calls him joker, in reference to Bill Murray's tryout for the villain in the then-unreleased Batman (1989). Herman died with a smile on his face, as do some of the Joker's victims.
There were six Christmas Ghosts in the movie. They were the following: The Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen), The Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane), The Ghost of Christmas Future (Robert Hammond, uncredited) and Herman. The Christmas Ghosts on the TV Show "Scrooge" were The Ghost of Christmas Past (Pat McCormick) and The Ghost of Christmas Future (Chaz Conner).