A Christmas Story - I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!

A Christmas Story is a 1983 American Christmas comedy film based on the short stories and semi-fictional anecdotes of author and raconteur Jean Shepherd, based on his book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, with some elements derived from Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories. It was directed by Bob Clark. The film has since become a holiday classic in the United States and is shown numerous times on television during the Christmas season, usually on the networks owned by Turner Broadcasting. Since 1997, a A Christmas Story marathon has aired on either TNT or TBS, comprising twelve consecutive airings of the film and beginning at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

The film earned director Clark two Genie Awards. In 2012, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" - Wiki

It's 1940, in the northern Indiana town of Hohman. 9-year-old Ralph "Ralphie" Parker wants only one thing for Christmas -- an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB rifle with a compass in the stock. Between his younger brother Randy and having to handle school bully Scut Farkus, Ralphie doesn't know how he'll ever survive long enough to get the BB gun for Christmas. When Ralph asks his mother for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, she says, "No, you'll shoot your eye out". When Mrs. Shields, Ralph's teacher at Harding Elementary School, assigns the class to write a theme about what they want for Christmas, Ralph sees a golden opportunity to express his desire to have a Red Ryder BB gun. Ralph gets a C+ on the theme, and Mrs. Shields has written "You'll shoot your eye out" on the theme. Ralph's next plan is to ask Santa Claus for a Red Ryder BB gun, and how does Santa respond? By saying "You'll shoot your eye out, kid." By this time, Ralph has had enough of that. When Scut Farkus and his sidekick Grover Dill start in on Ralph while he's on his way home from school that day, Ralph knocks Grover Dill to the ground, beats Scut's face bloody, and then pounds Scut's head on the snow-covered ground several times. Ralph thinks he'll never get the BB gun for Christmas now. And all of the other kids are going to be getting what they want for Christmas. But someone may have planned a surprise for Ralph. - IMDB

Three of the semi-autobiographical short stories on which the film is based were originally published in Playboy magazine between 1964 and 1966. Shepherd later read "Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder nails the Cleveland Street Kid" and told the otherwise unpublished story "Flick's Tongue" on his WOR Radio talk show, as can be heard in one of the DVD extras. Bob Clark states on the DVD commentary that he became interested in Shepherd's work when he heard "Flick's Tongue" on the radio in 1968. Additional source material for the film, according to Clark, came from unpublished anecdotes Shepherd told live audiences "on the college circuit."

The film is set in the fictional Indiana town of Hohman, a fictionalized version of Shepherd's hometown of Hammond, Indiana. Local references in the film include Warren G. Harding Elementary School and Cleveland Street (where Shepherd spent his childhood). Other local references include mention of a person "swallowing a yo-yo" in nearby Griffith, the Old Man being one of the fiercest "furnace fighters in northern Indiana" and that his obscenities were "hanging in space over Lake Michigan," a mention of the Indianapolis 500, and the line to Santa Claus "stretching all the way to Terre Haute, Indiana." The Old Man is also revealed to be a fan of the Bears (whom he jokingly calls the "Chicago Chipmunks") and White Sox, consistent with living in northwest Indiana.

The school scenes were shot at Victoria School in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Director Bob Clark reportedly sent location scouts to twenty cities before selecting Cleveland, Ohio, as the principal site for filming. Higbee's department store in downtown Cleveland was the stage for three scenes in the film. The first is the opening scene in which Ralphie first spies the Red Ryder BB Gun in the store's Christmas window display. The second is the parade scene, filmed just outside Higbee’s on Public Square at 3 AM. The final scene is Ralphie and Randy’s visit to see Santa, which was filmed inside Higbee’s. The store kept the Santa slide that was made for the film and used it for several years after the film's release. Higbee's was known for its elaborate, child-centered Christmas themes and decorations, with Santa as the centerpiece until the store, which became Dillard's in 1992, closed for good in 2002. Higbee's was exclusive to Northeast Ohio. As such, he was most likely referring to Goldblatts in downtown Hammond (with the Cam-Lan Chinese Restaurant three doors down on Sibley Ave.) The parade was filmed at night because, during the daytime, the 1960s Erieview Tower and Federal Building were visible from the Public Square, as was the BP Tower, which was under construction at the time.

The exterior shots (and select interior shots, including the opening of the leg lamp) of the house and neighborhood were filmed in the Tremont section of Cleveland's West Side. The house used as the Parker home in these scenes has been restored, reconfigured inside to match the soundstage interiors, and opened to the public as "A Christmas Story House". The "...only I didn't say fudge" scene was filmed at the foot of Cherry Street in Toronto. - Wiki


Of course you can visit the house:

A Christmas Story House, now restored to its movie splendor, is open year round to the public for tours. Directly across the street from the house is the official A Christmas Story House Museum, which features original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film, as well as hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos. Among the props and costumes are the toys from the Higbee’s window, Randy’s snowsuit, the chalkboard from Miss Shields’ classroom and the family car. After reliving A Christmas Story at Ralphie’s house don’t forget to visit the museum gift shop for your own Major Award Leg Lamp and other great movie memorabilia. You can even shop through our online gift shop here. Proceeds from the gift shop help support and maintain A Christmas Story House & Museum. - Website

Initially overlooked as a sleeper film, A Christmas Story was released a week before Thanksgiving 1983 to moderate success, earning about $2 million in its first weekend. Vincent Canby's mostly negative New York Times review echoed the more common response. Roger Ebert suggested the film had only modest success because holiday-themed films were not popular at the time. The film would go on to win two Genie Awards, for Bob Clark's screenplay and direction.

By Christmas 1983, however, the film was no longer playing at most venues, but remained in about a hundred theaters until January 1984. Gross earnings were just over $19.2 million. In the years since, due to television airings and home video release, A Christmas Story has become widely popular and is now an annual Christmas special.


Trivia:

For the scene in which Flick's tongue sticks to the flagpole, a hidden suction tube was used to safely create the illusion that his tongue had frozen to the metal.

According to Peter Billingsley (young Ralphie) in the DVD Commentary, the nonsensical ramblings that Ralphie exclaims while beating up Scut Farkas were scripted, word for word.

The people of Cleveland were incredibly cooperative during filming, donating antique vehicles from every corner of the city. These vintage vehicles helped to enhance the authenticity of the production design.

According to director Bob Clark, Jack Nicholson was given the script and was very much interested in the role of Mr. Parker, "The Old Man". However, Clark didn't learn of this until later and the studio didn't want to pay Nicholson's fee anyway, which would have doubled the budget. Regardless, Clark said that Darren McGavin was still the better choice and was born to play the role.

There is a debate about when the film takes place. Evidence seems to point to 1939 because of The Wizard of Oz (1939) references. The decoder ring points to 1940. However, if you look at the calendar on the wall (during the first dinner sequence), you can clearly see the first of December falls on a Friday. December 1st fell on a Friday in 1939, not 1940 as was previously accepted.


According to Bob Clark and the Daisy Rifle historians on the documentary on the history of the Red Ryder BB Gun on the Special Edition DVD, the model rifle as described by Ralphie in the film is a mistake. When Jean Shepard originally wrote the story of Ralphie and his gun for the story "In God We Trust... All Others Pay Cash", he had written about the gun based on his childhood experiences but had mis-remembered the details of the Red Ryder BB Gun. Specifically, the weapon did not have a compass or "This thing which tells time" (As Ralphie refers to the sundial). Those features were apart of another BB Gun model made around the same time. According to Clark, no one realized this mistake until it came time to produce the gun for the film and they were informed by the Daisy Rifle Company of the error. So the gun in the film is actually a custom made hybrid to match Sheppard's recollections.

Ralphie tells 3 grownups (his mother, his teacher, Santa) he wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, and they all turn him down. However, the one person he never thought to ask (his father) is the one who gave him the gift. - IMDB

10 Important Facts About A Christmas Story's Leg Lamp

When A Christmas Story was first released in 1983, it was a sleeper that attracted only a small (but quite cultish) following. Over the past three decades, however, the film has steadily become a holiday staple on par with classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street. And as the film itself has grown in popularity, so has one of its most recognizable props: the leg lamp, that glowing gam otherwise known as “A Major Award.”

1.THE LEG LAMP WAS INSPIRED BY AN OLD-SCHOOL SOFT DRINK

Before A Christmas Story was a movie, it was a series of short stories that appeared in two different volumes by the late writer and radio personality Jean Shepherd. The books, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters, were fictionalized accounts of Shepherd’s childhood in Depression-era Indiana (though the movie was filmed mostly in Cleveland). Shepherd describes the leg lamp and his father’s obsession with it in a 1966 story titled “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award that Heralded the Birth of Pop Art.”

According to A Christmas Story House and Museum (yep, there’s an entire museum dedicated to the subject), Shepherd imagined the leg lamp after seeing an illuminated Nehi Soda advertisement, which featured two shapely disembodied legs up to the knee. Shepherd gave cloaked credit to Nehi by writing that the Old Man’s crossword contest was sponsored by an “orange pop” company whose name “was a play on words, involving the lady’s knee.”

When the lamp finally arrives in Shepherd’s essay, he writes, “From ankle to thigh the translucent flesh radiated a vibrant, sensual, luminous orange-yellow-pinkish nimbus of Pagan fire. All it needed was tom-toms and maybe a gong or two. And a tenor singing in a high, quavery, earnest voice: ‘A pretty girl/Is like a melody…’”

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