The shrill four on the road

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German title The shrill four on the road
Original title National Lampoon’s Vacation
Country of production USA
Original language English
Year of publication 1983
Length 98 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Harold Ramis
Script John Hughes
Production Matty Simmons
Music Ralph Burns
Camera Victor J. Kemper
Edited by Pembroke J. Herring
  • Chevy Chase: Clark W. Griswold
  • Beverly D’Angelo: Ellen Griswold
  • Imogene Coca: Aunt Edna
  • Randy Quaid: Cousin Eddie
  • Anthony Michael Hall: Russell Griswold
  • Dana Barron: Audrey Griswold
  • Eddie Bracken: Roy Walley
  • Brian Doyle-Murray: Kamp Comfort Clerk
  • Miriam Flynn: Cousin Catherine
  • James Keach: Policeman
  • Eugene Levy: Car Salesman
  • Frank McRae: Grover
  • John Candy: Lasky
  • Christie Brinkley: Wife in Ferrari
  • Jane Krakowski: Cousin Vicki

Help, the Yanks are coming

The Shrill Four on the Road (original title: National Lampoon’s Vacation) is a 1983 American comedy film directed by Harold Ramis.


The Wagon Queen Family Truckster, the Griswolds’ family car. George Barris made several of these conversions for the film.

Clark, the head of the Griswold family, has planned the perfect road trip on his computer for this year’s family vacation. It is to take him, his wife Ellen and their children Russell (“Rusty”) and Audrey from their home in Chicago across the States to the amusement park “Walley World” in California. But already during the preparations the first complications arise. The car dealer from whom Clark has ordered a new sports car cheats him and sells him an overpriced, defect-prone clunker.

After Clark gets lost in St. Louis, he has to ask for directions in the red light district, where he gets his hubcaps stolen. After falling asleep at the wheel like the rest of the family while driving, the four finally get on the big highway. During a stop in Kansas, where the Griswolds are visiting Ellen’s cousin Catherine and her simple-minded husband Eddie, the latter foists Ellen’s crotchety Aunt Edna on them – asking them to deliver her and her dog Dinky, a biting dog, to her son Normy in Phoenix. More trouble arises with a highway patrolman who wants to arrest Clark for animal cruelty for forgetting Dinky tied to the bumper and after Clark gets lost and crashes the car in the desert. By the time Clark has spent the last of his money on repairs, Edna dies. Since none of the Griswolds know what to do with the body, they go to Cousin Normy’s house as planned. Since he is out of town, they place Edna’s body on his porch.

After an argument with Ellen, Clark looks for a female acquaintance in the bar area of their accommodation. He again encounters the blonde beauty who has already flirted with him twice on the way, unnoticed by the family. Clark cuts up mightily and passes off his family as his brother’s. When Clark drops the comment about not skipping anything in life at the motel pool, the blonde jumps in naked and Clark does the same. But the water is far too cold for him and his screams alert the hotel guests, including his family. Finally, the Griswolds arrive at “Walley World,” only to read at the entrance that the amusement park is closed for two weeks for renovations. After all the adversity in getting there, Clark goes berserk and gains entry to the park with the help of a toy gun. He forces security guard Lasky to join them in trying out all the attractions. Meanwhile, the park is sealed off by the police and Mr. Walley himself shows up. Clark appeals to Mr. Walley’s forbearance by maudlinly recounting his family’s horror trip. As a result, he decides not to press charges.


Janet Maslin wrote in the New York Times of July 29, 1983, that the comedy was a funny satire, but did not overdo it with the gags. Chevy Chase played with more poignancy than in any of his previous roles.[1]

Prisma found the comedy to be “loosely link[ed] slapstick”. It would rather “goof off” than criticize US society.[2]

The Encyclopedia of International Film considers the film a “[a]ls a satire on the ‘American way of life'” that is “occasionally a little too over-the-top”.[3]


  • Six Flags Magic Mountain served as the filming location for the fictional amusement park Wally World.[4]
  • The comedy cost about $15 million to produce, and grossed about $61 million in U.S. theaters.[5]
  • The family car used in the film is a Ford LTD Country Squire Station Wagon converted by the Barris brothers.


Five sequels have been made to date; Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo reprise their roles in the first three films. Beautiful Christmas 2 focuses on Randy Quaid as cousin Eddie and, unlike the other films, was produced for television rather than cinema. In Vacation – We are the Griswolds (2015), son Rusty is all grown up and now experiencing a vacation with his own family

  • 1985: Help, the Yanks are coming (National Lampoon’s European Vacation)
  • 1989: A Christmas Vacation, also known as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • 1997: The Four in Las Vegas (Vegas Vacation)
  • 2003: Christmas Vacation2 – Eddie Goes Swimming ( Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure)
  • 2015: Vacation – We are the Griswolds (Vacation)

Web links

Individual references

  1. Janet Maslin:National Lampoon s Vacation (1983) ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’.In: The NewYork Times. 29 July 1983, archived onOriginalSeptember25,2014; retrieved March 30, 2021.
  2. The shrill four on the road.In: prisma. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  3. The shrill four on the road. In: Encyclopedia ofinternational film. Filmdienst, retrieved 2 March 2017.
  4. Filming locations for Die schrillen Vier auf Achse
  5. Box office / business for The shrill four on the road