how it came to be “a christmas story”…
The movie A Christmas Story is possibly one of America’s favorite Christmas movies. Over the years, this unassuming little film has become a perennial yuletide.
The movie “A Christmas Story” might never have been made if it hadn’t been for another, decidedly less respectable comical creature: “Porky’s”. that’s how it is. One of the most beloved Christmas movies owes much of its existence to an infamous and unabashedly crude teen comedy.
In the late 1960s, “A Christmas Story” director Bob Clark was driving home from a date when he stumbled upon a transmission of radio personality and writer Jean Shepherd’s recollections of his childhood in indiana in the late 1930s and early 1940s. . Clark ended up circling the block for almost an hour, glued to the radio until he finished the show.
“My date wasn’t happy,” Clark said, but he knew immediately that he wanted to make a movie out of the stories, many of which first appeared in Playboy magazine and were collected in Shepherd’s 1966 book, “in god we trust: everyone else pays in cash.”
Clark’s adaptation, however, did not happen overnight. at the time, he was a journeyman director specializing in low-budget b-movies. For years, Clark tried to find a studio to finance the film. but no one was interested. However, Clark stuck to his ambition to bring shepherd stories to the screen and, in 1981, he directed Porky’s. which became a box office hit. he suddenly had some clout to bargain with. In the wake of that success, the studio wanted a sequel to Porky’s. Clark agreed to do a sequel if the studio would let him do “a Christmas story” first.
The modest-budget little comedy opened in 1983 the week before Thanksgiving on fewer than 900 screens. The film grossed about $2 million in its opening weekend and double that on Thanksgiving weekend, solid business for the time. the film was receiving strong word of mouth support. But MGM hadn’t counted on the movie being a big hit and didn’t schedule distribution beyond the opening screens before Christmas.
So a Christmas story disappeared from theaters. abruptly pushed into the theatrical vacuum by the biggest seasonal studio movies of the day, most notably Scarface and Christine. Ultimately, A Christmas Story grossed around $19 million at the box office. It was a good presentation, but not a great one.
At the same time, however, home video and cable television were just beginning to gain popularity, and a Christmas story made its way into the mainstream via videotape and cable broadcasts. The film rights were sold in 1986 to Warner Bros. by MGM as part of a 50-film package. In fact, MGM practically gave the film away when they included a Christmas story in the deal to simply meet their agreed-upon 50-film quota. Cable network TNT first aired its 12-feature, 24-hour marathon as a stunt in 1988, but popular demand turned the stunt into a tradition. The annual marathon (now broadcast on TBS) starts every Christmas Eve and attracts more than 40 million people who tune in at some point to watch. A Christmas Story is now one of the most popular Christmas movies of all time, earning a spot alongside “What a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”
a Christmas story curiosities curious facts
Jean Shepherd’s book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash,” on which “A Christmas Story” is based, is a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories that Shepherd wrote for Playboy magazine during the 1990s. 1960.
The character Scut Farkus, played by Zack Ward, was created specifically for the film and never appears in the book. In the book, Grover Dill is the only bully who torments Ralphie. The setting for the film was based on Hammond, Indiana, the hometown of author Jean Shepherd. Sheperd grew up on Cleveland St and went to Warren G. Harding Elementary School. like ralphie.
the movie was actually shot in cleveland, ohio and toronto, ontario. The movie house is located just outside of downtown Cleveland and the Higbee Building still stands in downtown Cleveland. The Christmas tree shopping scene and many of the interior shots of the house were filmed in Toronto, Ontario. One of Toronto’s signature red streetcars can be seen driving through the exterior shot of the tree-lined lot. Ralphie’s school exteriors were filmed at victoria school in st. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
To find an American city that resembled a 1940s Indiana town, director Clark sent his location scouts to twenty cities before selecting Cleveland, Ohio as the filming location. The decision to film in Cleveland was due to the willingness of Higbee’s (an actual department store) to allow the film to be shot inside the store.
In addition to providing the voice-over narration, writer Jean Shepherd made a cameo appearance in the film as a grumpy department store customer who tells Ralphie to go to the end of Santa’s line.
Director Bob Clark has a brief cameo as Swede, the Parker family’s goofy neighbor with a Southern accent who stops to marvel at the floor lamp across the street.
the role of mr. Ralphie’s father Parker was originally offered to Jack Nicholson, who was reportedly interested in playing the part. Director Clark, however, pushed hard for Darren McGavin. Producers, concerned about Nicholson’s typically large salary requests, ultimately approved of McGavin.
yano anaya, who played grover dill (the toad), appeared in only two other films, but is probably best known as the evil paperboy with the battle cry “two dollars!” in John Cusack’s 1985 comedy Better Off Dead.
For the scene where 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.
author jean shepherd’s concept for the “main prize” leg lamp was based on a real lamp: an illuminated nehi logo. the floor lamp style for a christmas story was created by production designer reuben freed, who had never seen or heard of a floor lamp before. Three floor lamps were made for the film, all of which were broken on set during filming.
the radio orphan annie decoder pin that ralphie receives is the 1940 “speedomatic” model, indicating that the movie takes place in december 1940. different decoder badges were made each year between 1935 and 1940. in 1941 , decoders were made of paper due to metal shortages during World War II.
Some of the “snow” used during the scenes between the kids and the thugs was actually soap flakes and fire engine suds. the stars later commented on slipping and slipping during the filming of the scenes.
An elaborate fantasy sequence, in which Ralph teams up with Flash Gordon to fight Ming the Merciless, was filmed, but was cut from the final cut. the image of this scene and the costumes used in it are on display at a Christmas story house and museum.
A second fantasy sequence involving blark barts men was cut from the film in favor of the backyard fantasy sequence. The deleted sequence involved Ralphie rescuing Santa from Black Bart’s men while Santa is trapped in a chimney. Little brother Randy (in disguise) played one of Black Bart’s men in the scene. His costume from the scene is on display at a Christmas Story House and Museum.
The movie opened just before Thanksgiving and became a surprise hit. By the time Christmas rolled around, the film had already been pulled from most theaters because it was “over.” after complaints were made to theater owners and the studio, the film played on select screens until after the first in 1984.
a christmas story” inspired the creation of the television show “the wonder years”.
Before “A Christmas Story,” Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie, gained fame as a correspondent for the variety show “Real People.” She also played Messy Marvin in commercials for Hershey’s chocolate syrup. peter is now a producer and often works with her close friends vince vaugh and john favreau. His producer credits include: Iron Man and the Break Up. he often appears in cameo appearances in the films he produces.