Tuesday, December 24, 2013

#1,226. A Christmas Story (1983)

Directed By: Bob Clark

Starring: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin

Tag line: "Peace. Harmony. Comfort and Joy... Maybe Next Year"

Trivia: In November 2012, A Christmas Story: The Musical, based on the film, opened on Broadway

Throughout the month of December, television audiences are inundated with showings of Bob Clark’s 1983 film A Christmas Story. Turner Broadcasting even repeats the movie, non-stop, for 24 hours beginning on Christmas Eve. So you can understand why some people might be a little tired of it. 

I am not one of those people!  

No matter how may times I see A Christmas Story, it will forever stand alongside 1984's A Christmas Carol, Frank Capra's It’s a Wonderful Life, and the original Black Christmas (also directed by Clark) as one of my all-time favorite Holiday movies.

The year is 1940, and Christmas is right around the corner. The only present that young Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants to see under the tree is a Red Ryder BB gun. Unfortunately, his mother (Melinda Dillon) refuses to let him have one, fearing he might “shoot his eye out” with it. 

But Ralphie won’t give up without a fight, and over the course of several weeks he’ll write a school report for his teacher, Miss Shields (Tedde Moore), praising the Red Ryder; and even ask Santa Claus himself (Jeff Gillen) to bring him one. 

Will Ralphie get the "Holy Grail" of Christmas presents, or will this particular Holiday prove a disappointment for him?

This is the basic premise of A Christmas Story, but Ralphie’s quest to land a Red Ryder air rifle is just one of literally dozens of stories featured in this film, most of which are funny as hell. My favorites include the night Ralphie’s father (the hilarious Darren McGavin) wins a “major award” that turns out to be a uniquely-shaped lamp, and the schoolyard incident in which Schwartz (R.D. Robb) dares Flick (Scott Schwartz) to put his tongue on a frozen lamppost. 

And let's not forget the “Scut Farkas (Zack Ward) affair”, which deals with a “yellow-eyed” bully who torments Ralphie and his friends; or the visit to Santa Claus, where Ralphie’s hopes and dreams are once again dashed.

From the Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring to the “Life Buoy Soap” fiasco, A Christmas Story is chock full of one uproarious sequence after another. 

Narrated by humorist and long-time radio host Jean Shepherd, whose novel In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash inspired the movie, A Christmas Story is more than a film; it is a Holiday tradition. And if TV executives have their way, it will continue to be so for many years to come!

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