A CHRISTMAS STORY
Every Thursday we feature a classic movie [or amazing clips from them] from back in the day for you to watch at work, on the way to work, on the way home from work or on your day off to watch and share.
Today’s feature takes you back to 1983 with a cast featuring Darrin McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Peter Billingsley and Scott Schwartz.
Is there a more classic Christmas movie from the late 20th century than this?
Directed by Bob Clark directed 1981’s hit “Porky’s” and as he said, if it weren’t for Porky’s there would have been no A Christmas Story. It was Porky’s that shined the light on him and the studio would not make A Christmas Story unless he directed it. In fact, believe it or not, very few studios were interested in making this film.
The movie was filmed in Cleveland even though it takes place in Indiana. Parts of the movie, including the Christmas tree shopping scene, were filmed in Toronto.
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. It’s also been said that the movie actually inspired the late 80’s hit TV show, “The Wonder Years”.
The film was released just before Thanksgiving and became a surprise hit. By the time Christmas rolled around, the movie had already been pulled from most theaters because it had been “played out”. After complaints were lodged at the theater owners and the studio, the film played on select screens until after the first of the year 1984.
So many great scenes, also scenes that didn’t make it including an elaborate fantasy sequence, in which Ralphie joins Flash Gordon to fight Ming the Merciless, was filmed but dropped from the final cut.
In 2005 the original home used for the exterior shots of the family home was put up for auction on eBay, and avid fan of the movie Brian Jones purchased it directly from the seller for $150,000. Jones then spent the following year restoring the home to the way it looked on screen. The exterior was completely restored and the interior was renovated to match the interior of the home shown in the movie (parts of the interior were actually filmed in a Toronto studio). On November 25, 2006, the home finally opened its doors as a tourist attraction. Jones spent close to $500,000 in preparation for this grand opening. In addition, he also purchased the house next door and converted it to a gift shop and museum dedicated to the film and the house.
The movie was released in mid Nov. 1983 on a budget of 3.3 million dollars. In it’s initial release it grossed almost 20 million. When the studio’s re-released (after it was pulled in mid Dec due to ‘ran it’s course’) it in 1984, it raked in another million and a half.
FUN FACTS ABOUT THE FILM
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.
Darren McGavin ad-libbed the profane rants while fighting with the furnace. He said he speaks gibberish the entire time because it was almost impossible for him to ad-lib angry words without actual profanity. He did this in order to ensure a “PG” rating.
When they filmed the scene in the Chinese restaurant, Melinda Dillon was purposely given the wrong script, and everyone was in on it. She had no idea that the duck would still have its head and the first time she saw it was when they were filming. Her reactions during the entire sequence were not scripted, which is what director Bob Clark was going for.
Although he occupies the most screen time in the film Peter Billingsley only has about ninety-three lines of dialogue.
Check out interviews, documentaries and more about this Holiday classic below.