The key ingredients to any good Christmas film are equal parts festive fun and childlike hope, a sprinkle of saccharine, and a healthy dollop of nostalgia. Add that all together and you get A Christmas Story, arguably one of the greatest festive films ever made (and one of the few that don’t feature an actual Santa). The 1983 Xmas flick was based on two semi-fictional books by Jean Shepherd, who also provides narration as the older Ralphie. A simple story (set in a simpler time, although no date is ever specified) of a middle class American family gearing up for the big day. Full of memorable moments, from young Ralphie repeatedly going on about his ultimate gift, the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle, a reminder to always drink your Ovaltine, to The Old Man’s ‘award’ of a leg lamp (it’s Italian). Released to little fanfare the film over time has become a Christmas classic, and the fact that since the 90s in the US TV broadcasters have run 24 hours marathons of it over the festive period certainly has helped it achieve that goal. A slice of undiluted Americana, the film has received spin-offs and even a direct sequel, but none have managed to capture the feeling or get the exposure that the original has.
But did you know…
- The film is one of the most wholesome and family friendly movies ever created. But it probably wouldn’t exist without the decidedly un-family friendly teen-sex comedy Porky’s. Director Bob Clark’s previous flick afforded him the clout he needed to secure funding for his ultimate Christmas film (he had also previously directed cult film Black Christmas…)
- Darren McGavin is irreplaceable as The Old Man, but he very nearly didn’t win the role. Jack Nicholson was reportedly interested in the part, and producers were looking to offer him the part but ultimately would not have been able to afford his hefty price.
- The infamous scene where a young boy gets his tongue stuck to a frozen pole was achieved by cutting out a hole in the prop pole and using a suction device to pull on the young actor’s tongue emulating the look (and feel) of it being frozen.