10 Fascinating Facts About Call Me By Your Name

Photo by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Photo by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

It’s not easy to make someone smile through their tears, but that’s exactly the way most people respond to Call Me By Your Name, the lush tornado of young love set in the Italian countryside. Written by James Ivory and directed by Luca Guadagnino, the movie stars Timothée Chalamet as 17-year-old introspective Elio and Armie Hammer as Oliver, the confident graduate student who lives with Elio’s family over the summer.

Elio starts dating local girl Marzia (Esther Garrel), but his relationship with Oliver soon turns seductive and blossoms into a fiercely intense first love.

Grab your peaches. Here are 10 fascinating facts about Call Me By Your Name, which is up for four Oscars this year, including Best Picture.

1. IT GOT THE LONGEST STANDING OVATION IN NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL HISTORY.

Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

Before it premiered at Sundance to widespread acclaim, Sony Pictures Classics had already purchased the film for $6 million. It had already made the rounds at several festivals, including Berlinale and Toronto, before screening at the New York Film Festival in October, where it garnered 10 full minutes of a sustained, standing ovation. That’s more than any other movie in the festival’s 55-year history.

2. THE STORY EXISTS BECAUSE A VACATION FELL THROUGH.

In 2005, André Aciman wanted to take his wife and children on a vacation to a Mediterranean villa but the plans fell through. Instead of springtime relaxation by the seaside, the author spent three months fictionally exploring the Italian Riviera fictionally by writing Call Me By Your Name. He may have lost a vacation, but the world got this story.

3. THE ONLY REHEARSAL CONSISTED SOLELY OF ARMIE HAMMER AND TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET MAKING OUT.

Photo by Peter Spears, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Hammer called it “a bit of an ice breaker.” Guadagnino wanted a naturalistic feel to the performances, so the director called for only one rehearsal. Hammer and Chalamet joined him in the backyard of the villa where they filmed, where the director arbitrarily chose a scene to practice. That scene consisted only of Elio and Oliver rolling in the grass making out, so Hammer and Chalamet got right down to it. After a long kissing session, they looked up to find that the director had already walked off, leaving them alone.

4. ARMIE HAMMER NARRATED THE AUDIOBOOK. 

Hammer lends his vocal talents to the 2017 edition of the audiobook, which means he’s also played Elio on top of playing Oliver.

5. AUTHOR ANDRÉ ACIMAN MAKES A CAMEO IN THE MOVIE.

After other actors weren’t available, the production opted to have the book’s author, André Aciman, play Mounir, a dinner guest and husband to a character named Isaac, played by producer Peter Spears. “He had been so hands off with the movie, but we wanted him to be a part of it," Spears told The Hollywood Reporter. "He rose to the occasion, and it was pretty great.”

6. THE FINAL SCENE TAKES PLACE ON DECEMBER 6, 1983.

The airy film plays out over the kind of summer where watches get thrown into the pool and left to sink. Its ephemeral texture is aided by a lack of concern for specific times and dates, but then the winter comes. We won’t spoil the last scene, but if you’ve seen it, you know it takes place on the seventh day of Hanukah in 1983, which makes it December 6th, or 1 Tevet 5744.

7. THE FILMMAKERS CHANGED THE YEAR THE FILM TAKES PLACE IN BECAUSE OF AIDS AND '80S MUSIC.

The novel takes place in 1987, but Guadagnino changed it to 1983 for the film partially because the world was already far deeper into the AIDS crisis by 1987 than by 1983. As Chalamet described it, the time change made it so the film “wasn’t as intense and could be a little more utopic.” Guadagnino was also 12 in 1983 and wanted to use the music from his childhood.

8. THE FILM IS DEDICATED TO BILL PAXTON.

The legendary actor, who passed away on February 25, 2017, wasn’t involved in producing Call Me By Your Name in any way, so the dedication initially seemed puzzling to many. As producer Peter Spears explained, “My husband, Brian Swardstrom, was Bill’s best friend and agent for almost his entire career. Brian is also the agent of Timothée Chalamet (as well as Tilda Swinton, which is how we all met Luca years ago). Brian and Bill came to visit us on the set while we were shooting in Crema, Italy … Bill and Luca became friends, as they had been great admirers of each other’s work for many years, and Luca chose to honor his memory by dedicating the movie to him. A very moving gesture for which Brian and I will be forever grateful.”

9. IT SHARES ITS STARS WITH OTHER OSCAR BEST PICTURE NOMINEES.

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Sony Pictures Classics

Not only does Best Actor nominee Chalamet star in Call Me By Your Name, he co-stars in fellow Best Picture nominee Lady Bird as the jerky love interest, Kyle. Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays Elio’s professorial father, is in three Best Picture Nominees this year: Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, and The Post—becoming only the sixth actor in history to pull that particular hat trick (while somehow not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor).

10. THERE’S GOING TO BE A SEQUEL THAT WILL DEAL WITH AIDS.

The original book also contains an epilogue that outlines Elio and Oliver’s relationship (or lack of one) over a 20-year span. Guadagnino would love to reunite with the cast to make a sequel, set a few years later, and would plan to recognize the AIDS epidemic’s toll in a way Call Me By Your Name sidestepped.

Amazon's Best Cyber Monday Deals on Tablets, Wireless Headphones, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

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12 Spirited Facts About How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Each year, millions of Americans welcome the holiday season by tuning into their favorite TV specials. For most people, this includes at least one viewing of the 1966 animated classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Adapted from Dr. Seuss’s equally famous children’s book by legendary animator Chuck Jones, How the Grinch Stole Christmas first aired more than 50 years ago, on December 18, 1966. Here are 12 facts about the TV special that will surely make your heart grow three sizes this holiday season.

1. Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel And Chuck Jones previously worked together on Army training videos.

During World War II, Geisel joined the United States Army Air Forces and served as commander of the Animation Department for the First Motion Picture Unit, a unit tasked with creating various training and pro-war propaganda films. It was here that Geisel soon found himself working closely with Chuck Jones on an instructional cartoon called Private Snafu. Originally classified as for-military-personnel-only, Private Snafu featured a bumbling protagonist who helped illustrate the dos and don’ts of Army safety and security protocols.

2. It was because of their previous working relationship that Ted Geisel agreed to hand over the rights to The Grinch to Chuck Jones.

After several unpleasant encounters in relation to his previous film work—including the removal of his name from credits and instances of pirated redistribution—Geisel became notoriously “anti-Hollywood.” Because of this, he was reluctant to sell the rights to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. However, when Jones personally approached him about making an adaptation, Geisel relented, knowing he could trust Jones and his vision.

3. Even with Ted Geisel’s approval, the special almost didn’t happen.

By Al Ravenna, World Telegram staff photographer - Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Whereas today’s studios and production companies provide funding for projects of interest, television specials of the past, like A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, had to rely on company sponsorship in order to get made. While A Charlie Brown Christmas found its financier in the form of Coca-Cola, How the Grinch Stole Christmas struggled to find a benefactor. With storyboards in hand, Jones pitched the story to more than two dozen potential sponsors—breakfast foods, candy companies, and the like—all without any luck. Down to the wire, Jones finally found his sponsor in an unlikely source: the Foundation for Commercial Banks. “I thought that was very odd, because one of the great lines in there is that the Grinch says, ‘Perhaps Christmas doesn’t come from a store,’” Jones said of the surprise endorsement. “I never thought of a banker endorsing that kind of a line. But they overlooked it, so we went ahead and made the picture.”

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas had a massive budget.

Coming in at over $300,000, or $2.2 million in today’s dollars, the special’s budget was unheard of at the time for a 26-minute cartoon adaptation. For comparison’s sake, A Charlie Brown Christmas’s budget was reported as $96,000, or roughly $722,000 today (and this was after production had gone $20,000 over the original budget).

5. Ted Geisel wrote the song lyrics for the special.

No one had a way with words quite like Dr. Seuss, so Jones felt that Geisel should provide the lyrics to the songs featured in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

6. Fans requested translations of the “Fahoo Foraze” song.

True to his persona’s tongue-twisting trickery, Geisel mimicked sounds of classical Latin in his nonsensical lyrics. After the special aired, viewers wrote to the network requesting translations of the song as they were convinced that the lyrics were, in fact, real Latin phrases.

7. Thurl Ravenscroft didn’t receive credit for his singing of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

The famous voice actor and singer, best known for providing the voice of Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger, wasn’t recognized for his work in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Because of this, most viewers wrongly assumed that the narrator of the special, Boris Karloff, also sang the piece in question. Upset by this oversight, Geisel personally apologized to Ravenscroft and vowed to make amends. Geisel went on to pen a letter, urging all the major columnists that he knew to help him rectify the mistake by issuing a notice of correction in their publications.

8. Chuck Jones had to find ways to fill out the 26-minute time slot.

Because reading the book out loud only takes about 12 minutes, Jones was faced with the challenge of extending the story. For this, he turned to Max the dog. “That whole center section where Max is tied up to the sleigh, and goes down through the mountainside, and has all those problems getting down there, was good comic business as it turns out,” Jones explained in TNT’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas special, which is a special feature on the movie’s DVD. “But it was all added; it was not part of the book.” Jones would go on to name Max as his favorite character from the special, as he felt that he directly represented the audience.

9. The Grinch’s green coloring was inspired by a rental car.

Warner Home Video

In the original book, the Grinch is illustrated as black and white, with hints of pink and red. Rumor has it that Jones was inspired to give the Grinch his iconic coloring after he rented a car that was painted an ugly shade of green.

10. Ted Geisel thought the Grinch looked like Chuck Jones.

When Geisel first saw Jones’s drawings of the Grinch, he exclaimed, “That doesn’t look like the Grinch, that looks like you!” Jones’s response, according to TNT’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas Special: “Well, it happens.”

11. At one point, the special received a “censored” edit.

Over the years, How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been edited in order to shorten its running time (in order to allow for more commercials). However, one edit—which ran for several years—censored the line “You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch” from the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Additionally, the shot in which the Grinch smiles creepily just before approaching the bed filled with young Whos was deemed inappropriate for certain networks and was removed.

12. The special’s success led to both a prequel and a crossover special.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Given the popularity of the Christmas special, two more Grinch tales were produced: Halloween is Grinch Night and The Grinch Grinches The Cat in the Hat. Airing on October 29, 1977, Halloween is Grinch Night tells the story of the Grinch making his way down to Whoville to scare all the Whos on Halloween. In The Grinch Grinches The Cat in the Hat, which aired on May 20, 1982, the Grinch finds himself wanting to renew his mean spirit by picking on the Cat in the Hat. Unlike the original, neither special was deemed a classic. But this is not to say they weren’t well-received; in fact, both went on to win Emmy Awards.