A CHRISTMAS STORY – A Christmas Classic

By Marty Mulrooney

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story is a 1983 American Christmas comedy film directed by Bob Clark. Although initially overlooked upon release, it has since become a Christmas classic with a cult following. It is my personal favourite Christmas film of all time and I would like to share some trivia about it today with AMO’s readers. Merry Christmas!

Nine-year-old Ralphie’ Parker wants only one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder BB Gun. He doesn’t care if everybody – especially his mother – keeps telling him “You’ll shoot your eye out” either! Throughout A Christmas Story, Ralphie comes up with various schemes to try to convince his parents to get him this special gift, such as writing an essay about the gun for his teacher (she thinks he’ll shoot his eye out too!), leaving adverts hidden in magazines, and even asking for it from a department store Santa (three guesses what his response is!). This is a hilarious and heart-warming film that perfectly captures those intense childhood feelings of despair, hope and joy.

  • The film is based on the short stories and semi-fictional anecdotes of Jean Shepherd, an American raconteur, radio and TV personality, writer and actor. It includes material from his books In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories.
  • Shepherd provides the narration for the film, speaking from the adult perspective of Ralphie, the young boy who is the film’s main character.
  • Shepherd also makes a cameo appearance in the film; he plays the man who directs Ralphie and Randy to the back of the Santa line at the department store.
  • The film tells the story of Ralphie, a nine-year-old boy who only wants one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder BB Gun. In the film, it is described as a “Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass and this thing which tells time built right into the stock!” Although Red Ryder BB Guns are still made to this day, the model from the film does not correspond to any model ever made – the Red Ryder BB Gun used in the film was created specifically to match the author’s description.
  • The film is set in Hohman, Indiana, a fictionalised version of Jean Shepherd’s hometown of Hammond. The house used in the film was bought in 2004 by San Diego entrepreneur Brian Jones off eBay for $150,000, using money he had make from his business, The Red Rider Leg Lamp Company – which manufactures replicas of the ‘major award’ Ralphie’s father won in the film! It has since been converted into the A Christmas Story House Museum. More details are available via the official website – http://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com/
  • A specific year is never mentioned – director Bob Clark states on the DVD commentary that both he and Shepherd wanted the film to be seen as “”amorphously late 30s, early 40s”.
  • Jack Nicholson was considered for the role of the Old Man (Ralphie’s father), but Darren McGavin got given the part instead and made it his own – his constant cursing, usually due to problems with the boiler in the basement, is hysterically funny throughout.
  • Despite a limited budget, the film features a number of vintage vehicles – during filming in downtown Cleveland, members of a local antique automobile club repeatedly circled the square.
  • Ralphie is played by Peter Billingsley, who signed on as Executive Producer of a musical adaptation of A Christmas Story in December 2010. Since starring as Ralphie Parker, he has went on to work as an executive producer for films such as The Break-Up starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. In 2009, he made his feature-length directorial debut with Couples Retreat starring John Favreau and Vince Vaughn.
  • Please don’t try sticking your tongue to a frozen flagpole after watching A Christmas Story – it really does work!
  • A 48hr. pass to watch A Christmas Story via YouTube in 480p DVD quality can be purchased for £2.49 here.

Please do check out A Christmas Story if you haven’t done so already, it really is a classic that recaptures the magic of being a child at Christmas! Just make sure to avoid the sequel It Runs in the Family (released on DVD as My Summer Story), which features an almost entirely different cast and lacks the charm of the original. Merry Christmas!

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