MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Uncle Frank was originally going to be the villain in Home Alone.
1990’s Home Alone, written by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, was one of the most popular Christmas films of all time. The conceit of the picture is that young Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) is accidentally left behind when his large, extended family all travel to visit relatives in France for Christmas. Kevin, just the night before, wished that he could be “home alone,” so the young kid thought that his wish had come true.
At first, he celebrated the new found freedom that came from being unattended. Soon, though, he started to miss his family. Things took a turn for the worst, however, when his home was targeted for robbery by a pair of crooks known as the Wet Bandits (because they left the faucets running in the homes that they robbed). They had investigated and learned that the McCallisters were going to be out of town, but were shocked to see Kevin still home. When they realize that he was actually home alone, they decide to rob the place anyways.
Kevin has to defend his home with a variety of violent traps.
The movie made roughly a gazillion dollars at the box office and might still be the highest grossing comedy of all-time and the thing came out 27 years ago!
Anyhow, let’s turn to the legend at hand – was the original script really about Kevin’s Uncle Frank being the mastermind behind everything, including being the boss of the Wet Bandits?
One of the trickiest things for me to do with legends is to prove negatives. In other words, if you can prove that an alternate screenplay EXISTS, then you’ve proven a positive. But to prove that an alternate screenplay DOESN’T exist, it’s a lot harder.
In any event, the whole thing seems to have started when Rob Fee wrote a really good article for Crave.com where he argued that Uncle Frank was the real evil mastermind of Home Alone. Fee explained that the series of events that led to Kevin being left behind could theoretically be explained by Frank orchestrating them all. Then, when they were in France, he could have called the Wet Bandits and told them to rob the place. The idea being that he could rob his brother’s place while he knew his brother and his family would be gone.
It’s a bit out there as a theory in the film itself (since we see HOW the Wet Bandits find out that the McCallisters are going out of town – Joe Pesci’s character visits them disguised as a cop). Plus, the film explains that lightning knocked down the power lines and it is unlikely that Frank could replicate that scenario precisely.
But whatever, it is still a really clever article by Fee. Plus, Uncle Frank certainly IS a creep. Check out this deleted scene from the film where Frank PANTS Kevin as part of a joke…
Creepy, dude, creepy!
That said, in the years since Fee’s article, now the story has grown to be not that it was a good theory, but that it WAS what was intended all along, but it was changed along the way.
I have found nothing to support that. I’ve read a lot of interviews by Hughes and Columbus for the film and that topic has literally never come up.
Hughes told the story about his inspiration for the film being a family trip in 1989 where he thought, “What if we left a kid behind?”
In Hughes’ previous film, Uncle Buck, Macaulay Culkin has a scene where he, in effect, guards his home through the mail slot…
It just doesn’t seem to be supportable by anything that Uncle Frank was ever intended to be the “real” villain behind the movie’s plot. The burglarly plot is extremely straightforward. I don’t believe it was ever anything other than that (although it is fair to say that Columbus did a lot of re-writing of Hughes’ original screenplay).
I’m going with the legend as…
But hey, I’m not 100% certain. So if someone ever reveals this rumored original version of the screenplay that I don’t think exists, I’ll gladly change it to a true!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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