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Back in 1983, director Harold Ramis and writer John Hughes teamed up to make National Lampoon's Vacation - what would end up being a rather legendary comedy about an ordinary family's road trip to a Los Angeles amusement park called Walley World. The film is still regularly enjoyed by audiences today - though it's likely that many of you have never had the opportunity to read the source material that the movie is based on. Well, now is your chance.
With permission from National Lampoon, The Hollywood Reporter has republished, in full, the short story Vacation '58 - which John Hughes wrote while working at an ad agency in Chicago, and was first published in 1979. As you might imagine, the premise behind the story is very familiar, following a suburban family as they attempt to go on a long-road trip for vacation. It's a pretty funny read that I recommend - especially if you're a die-hard John Hughes fan.
Reading even just the beginning of the story, you'll notice that some key details of the story were changed for the big screen adaptation. For example, the family doesn't hail from the Chicago area, but instead uses Grosse Point, Michigan as the story's launching point. Even the first line - "If Dad hadn’t shot Walt Disney in the leg, it would have been our best vacation ever!" - points to a major change from the short to the feature, as the film would ultimately have to sub in the fictitious Walley World for Disneyland (presumably Disney wouldn't allow the name of their California theme park to be used). Hughes' original writings also didn't have the famed Wagon Queen Family Truckster, as it says that the dad in the story - whose name is actually Clark W. Griswold - drives a 1958 Plymouth Sport Suburban Six station wagon.
Adding a fun extra layer to the story is also the circumstances in which John Hughes wrote and published this story. According to the trade report, the future Breakfast Club director first penned the short while he was snowed in thanks to a blizzard in Chicago. Once he finished, he submitted his submitted a draft to National Lampoon, and it wound up being his big break. Of course, It was only one year later that he was making his directorial debut with 1984's Sixteen Candles, and he followed that up with a legendary run that includes Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
The latest chapter in the Vacation series, directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, continues the continuity first established in the John Hughes-scripted original, and is in theaters now. Given the pop culture status of the 1983 hit, it will be a hard legacy to live up to.