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FAST FACTS

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Scrooged

T'was Christmas Eve In New York city

This holiday classic film features a 1970 Checker Marathon Sedan Taxicab.

 Scrooged – Featuring a 1970 Checker Marathon Cab

Scrooged is a 1988 American Christmas comedy based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and starring Bill Murray. Frank Cross is a selfish executive, and a modern-day Scrooge, who is visited by a succession of ghosts on Christmas Eve intent on helping Frank regain his lost Christmas spirit.

The movie, and our featured car, start with the Ghost of Christmas Past, the taxi driver, and his 1970 Checker Marathon taxicab.

 The “Checker Cab”, recognized for its black and white checker trim outside and in, introduced the signature orange-y yellow New Yorkers have come to depend on for hailing a non-app-based ride.

There were several models of the Checker Marathon sedan, but we particularly liked the A-12 model, with a GM Chevy L65 Small Block V-8 350 cu. in. engine, manufactured Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. It was a 4-door with tons of interior space and a lot of pep, for when the passenger said “step on it”. Sporting rear-wheel drive, and a three-speed gearbox, it was almost 17 feet long, weighed in at 3,500 lbs., and had a top speed around 100 mph.

There was even an eight-door “Aerobus” Marathon wagon, that offered seating for 12 passengers.

 Checker taxicabs were the choice for New York City film makers. The size of the car, robust construction, and the lack of yearly changes to the styling all contributed to the Marathon’s popularity for movie production crews. Just about any film set in New York City in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s will feature a Checker Marathon cab. Interestingly, many movies set in the 1950s and 1960s still used Checker cabs built in the 1970s and early 1980s, simply because the bodies were indistinguishable from the 50’s to the 80’s.

 Suffice it to say, Bill Murray’s character, Frank, comes around and wishes all the people around him a Merry Christmas in a closing monologue that he mostly ad-libbed:

“I get it now. And if you give, then it can happen, then the miracle can happen to you. Not just the poor and hungry, it’s just, everybody’s gotta have this miracle! It can happen tonight for you all! If you believe in this pure thing, the miracle will happen and you’ll want it again tomorrow! You won’t believe the bastard who say, “Christmas is once a year and it’s a fraud.” It’s not! It can happen every day! You’ve just got to want that feeling! And if you like it and you want it, you get greedy for it. You’ll want it every day of your life! And it can happen to you! I believe in it now. I believe it’s gonna happen to me, now. I’m ready for it! And it’s great. It’s a good feeling. It’s really better than I’ve felt in a long time. I’m ready.”

Filmed in Hollywood, not New York City, Scrooged had a $32 million budget and ultimately grossed $100 million worldwide. Regarded at the time as “mean” and “too sentimental,” today Scrooged is on many top Christmas movie lists, and surfaces year after year on television.

FRASER FAST MOVIE FACTS

  •  The Ghost of Christmas Past’s cab belongs to the Belle Cab Company. Belle is the name of Scrooge’s first love in the Charles Dickens novel, from which the story is loosely taken.
  • Filming began in December, 1987. With Christmas approaching, director Richard Donner asked if the production could have Christmas Day off. But “Paramount Pictures” executives refused, insisting that filming should continue on Christmas Day. However, Donner outwitted them. At the end of the day on December 24, 1987, he officially fired the entire cast and crew. Two days later, on December 26, he officially re-hired everyone. The break allowed the cast and crew members to spend Christmas with their families.
  • When the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane) grabbed Bill Murray’s lip, she tore it so badly that filming was halted for several days.
  • All of Bill Murray’s acting brothers, John Murray, Joel Murray, and Brian Doyle-Murray, appeared in this movie. John’s the only one that played his on-screen brother; Joel plays one of the guests at John’s party, while Brian plays Bill’s on-screen father.
  • Bill Murray ad-libbed most of his lines. In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, the director discussed Murray’s penchant for improvisation and described the experience of directing Murray as: “It’s like standing on 42nd Street and Broadway, and the lights are out, and you’re the traffic cop.”
  • In the final scene, when Frank tosses a coin out the window, the camera follows the coin as it falls in slow motion, which the people in the control room watch in slow motion; however, this is impossible as you cannot watch a live broadcast in slow motion… because, well, it’s live.

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