25th Anniversary of “A Christmas Story” (1983) - - “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”

posted by WayBackWhen2008 on December 18, 2008 at 9:30 am

I can still remembering the feeling I had watching “A Christmas Story” on the big screen in 1983. It was love at first sight. I fell in love again, all over again, when last week I saw the famous “major award lamp” in a Christmas display in a neighbor’s house. Fans out there will know exactly what I mean.

Director Bob Clark’s Midwest tale of nine year-old Ralphie Parker’s Christmas experience in the 1940’s in which his only wish is an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle. The movie is heartwarming. It has developed quite a fan base. The house in which the movie was set – Cleveland, Ohio- was purchased by a fan, restored, and open for public tours, complete with a mini-museum and gift shop. This year there was an auction for the opportunity to sleep over in the house, to the highest bidder, on Christmas Day! Each year there is a convention held in honor of the movie, too. Well, I could go on but will keep this story brief. Here are a few facts about the film from IMDB:

-To find an American city resembling an Indiana town of the 1940s, director Bob Clark sent his location scouts to twenty cities before selecting Cleveland, Ohio, as the site for filming.
-Parts of the movie, including the Christmas tree shopping scene, were filmed in Toronto, Ontario. One of Toronto’s trademark red trolleys can be seen driving by the shot of the outside of the tree lot.
-Inspired the creation of “The Wonder Years” (1988).
-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 says that Darren McGavin was still the better choice and was born to play the role.
-The “major award” was based on a real lamp: an illuminated Nehi logo.
-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 from 1935-1940. By 1941, the decoders were made of paper.
-The Parker’s Oldsmobile is a 1937 Model 6, four-door sedan with Indiana license plate 56 498.
-Ralphie says that he wanted the “Red Ryder BB Gun” 28 times.

Comments (17)

moviebuff82 on December 18, 2008 at 11:05 am

To this day, every Christmas day, TBS and or TNT airs the movie nonstop for 24 hours, with commercials!!! This year, both channels, which are owned by the same company that owns the rights to the film, are showing less ads and more movie. My cousin Chrissy has the movie on DVD, so I can see it uncut and ad free. It also has been released on Bluray this year for the 25th anniversary gift set, and a museum honoring the film has opened in Cleveland. I hope they don’t remake it!!!

efriedmann on December 18, 2008 at 1:08 pm

I own the DVD and watch it every Christmas. Still, every time the 24-hour marathon is on TBS, I can’t help but keep the channel on and watch bits and pieces or just listen to it while I do something else.

I’ve never been one to really celebrate the holidays, but I’ve always loved the TV marathons you can find:

  • I LOVE LUCY on TV Land.
  • THE TWILIGHT ZONE on the Sci-Fi Channel.
WayBackWhen2008 on December 18, 2008 at 2:27 pm

I have heard that they may be making a broadway play too! I can’t wait to see it. I hope they do it justice.

Coate on December 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm

Great movie! I didn’t see it in the theater during its original run, but over the years have seen it numerous times on TV. I was fortunate to have attended in 2003 a 20th anniversary screening at ARCLIGHT HOLLYWOOD which featured a cast-and-crew reunion and Q&A.

JohnRice on December 18, 2008 at 4:29 pm

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area there is a great chance to see “A Christmas Story” this weekend (Friday to Sunday, December 19-21) at the beautifully restored California Theatre in San Jose. It’s on a double bill with the BIng Crosby-Danny Kaye “White Christmas” (the first VistaVision feature from 1954), part of a rare movie series at the California which is usually home to only symphony and opera. The theatre alone is worth the very low price of admission ($5 which includes a free popcorn!) but the superb 35mm film presentation makes this a real treat. Unfortunately nothing in 70mm in this year’s series but any film showing at the California is definitely worth the trip to San Jose.

JohnRice on December 18, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Oops forgot to add that link to the California’s Christmas film series which includes “A Christmas Story”:


KingBiscuits on December 18, 2008 at 7:19 pm

The film’s star, Peter Billingsley, is now Jon Favreau’s producing partner and helped produced such films as Iron Man, Zathura and Four Christmases.

KingBiscuits on December 18, 2008 at 9:46 pm

But after positive audience reception and demand, the film was reissued on January 6th, 1984 and again on November 30th, 1984.

KingBiscuits on December 18, 2008 at 9:46 pm

Actually, the second reissue was on November 21st, 1984 before going wide on November 30th.

GaryParks on December 18, 2008 at 11:45 pm

I’ve kept a log of all the theatrical movie viewings I’ve been to since 1982. I just looked it up, and I saw “A Christmas Story” in early 1984 at the Capitola Theatre in Capitola (for many years Santa Cruz County’s double feature bargain house, a wonderfully cozy 1947 theatre), with my mom and a good friend from school. It was paired with a movie called “Romantic Comedy,” which I do not remember at all.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 22, 2008 at 6:56 am

Just saw this at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA yesterday.

AdamBomb1701 on December 22, 2008 at 11:27 am

I saw “A Christmas Story” it’s first weekend out, and loved it. Wonderful film. I try to catch it at least once during the 24-hour Christmas Eve marathon.
Most of “A Christmas Story”’s plot was taken from Jean Shepherd’s great book “In God We Trust – All Others Pay Cash.” But – the subplot about the mangy Bumpus hounds who terrorize The Old Man was taken from another of Shepherd’s superb books – “Wanda Hickey’s Night Of Golden Memories and Other Disasters,” which deals with Ralph as a teenager. Another film, “The Phantom Of The Open Hearth,” was made for public TV, based on “Wanda Hickey’s…” back in 1976. That’s a wonderful film as well, and it’s shameful that it’s not on DVD. Supposedly, the Shepherd estate wants to much money for the rights.

WayBackWhen2008 on December 22, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Have heard that there is a follow to this movie called My Summer Story. Anyone familiar with it?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 22, 2008 at 1:18 pm

NYK: I don’t understand why you put that link in your comments. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the movie.

PeterApruzzese on December 22, 2008 at 2:26 pm

MariaMaria – Yes, My Summer Story was the movie, starring Charles Grodin and Mary Steenburgen and released in 1994. It was also known as “It Runs in the Family”.

Rodolfo on December 23, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Hey! where have I been never seen this movie but the article was great “You’ll shoot your eye out kid” fell in love again, all over again. A friend told me about this movie with such enthusiasm. Can’t wait to see it for the first time. Feel like a kid waiting to open presents at christmas.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 27, 2010 at 7:03 pm

had a theatre buddy tell me to see this movie. I don’t watch kid movies,but did go.It was GREAT. Saw it at Daniel Village twin Theatre.

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