This Christmas marks the 30th anniversary of a film which has deservedly become a holiday classic: A Christmas Story.
The film is based on Jean Shepherd’s book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. It was directed by Bob Clark, who is known for directing the sex comedy Porky’s (1982) and the slasher film Black Christmas (1974).
Shepherd also narrates this comedy, which chronicles the attempts of Ralph Parker (played by Peter Billingsley) one holiday season to get a Red Ryder BB Gun. His mother (Melinda Dillon) is dead set against it warning him:
“You’ll shoot your eye out!”
Ralph’s father (Darren McGavin) is indifferent because he’s busy working on the furnace in their home or eyeballing the exotic lamp he’s won.
But Ralph is undeterred, even when he’s dealing with bullies, dogs which eat the Christmas turkey and even a nightmarish trip to the mall to see Santa.
A big reason for this film’s appeal is that Ralph (‘Ralphie’ as everyone calls him) is instantly likeable. His reactions what the holiday season brings reminds us all of how we viewed Christmas as children. His fantasies on how he wishes things would turn around in his favor are also hilarious, such as when he first views himself saving his family with his new toy. As a result, we are always rooting for Ralphie and hope he gets that present.
Interestingly, the most famous scene belongs not to Ralphie, but to his friend Flick (Scott Schwartz) who learns the hard way that even a triple-dog-dare should not be reason to stick your tongue to a flagpole.
The rest of the cast is excellent, especially McGavin (whose character is referred to as ‘The Old Man’), who is gruff yet loving.
For the few who have yet to see this film, it is shown each Christmas season on the TBS network, which runs it for 24-hours straight.