Picks and Pans Review: One Simple Moment Was the Key to Home Alone

UPDATED 03/07/1994 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/07/1994 at 01:00 AM EST

To millions of moviegoers, Home Alone boiled down to a little wild thing named Macaulay Culkin, its 9-year-old star. But the movie was really about the lightning-quick reflexes and box office instincts of its writer-producer, John Hughes, who came up with the idea for Alone (which, along with its sequel, was directed by Chris Columbus) two hours before flying to Paris with his wife and two children. "We were getting ready to leave, and my wife had gone over the list of things we mustn't forget," says Hughes, 44. "Then, just as a joke, I ran down the list for her. I got to American Express cards, travelers' checks, plane tickets, and then I said, 'Uh. Kids.' And it struck me: What if we left James, who is my youngest?" Hughes jotted down four pages of notes, caught the plane to France, came back to Chicago 10 days later and knocked out a script in a week. He knows what chord he struck. "Losing a child is a parent's greatest concern," he says, "and losing a parent is a child's greatest concern."


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