According to star Peter Billingsley, director Bob Clark had to agree to direct other schlocky films for distributor MGM and put up cash out of his own pocket to get A Christmas Story made. It’s a good thing he saw his vision through – what would Christmas be without Jean Shephard’s festive, wholehearted tale of the ups and downs of the holiday season as seen through the eyes of a bright-eyed child? A whole lot more empty, that’s for sure. Below are some of the reasons why A Christmas Story went from an underrated, critically divisive picture to the greatest Christmas movie that we’ve ever received, or ever will receive.
10. The Scut Farkus Affair
For every heavy-set tween who’s been rolled down a hill, for every acne-covered high school audio-visual-club kid who’s been trapped inside his own locker, seeing the yellow-eyed, yellow-toothed bully, Scut Farkus, turn yellow as Ralphie Parker pummels him in retribution was a universal score for the proverbial little guy. It was the slap heard around Hammond, Indiana.
9. The Bunny Outfit
Some moms tell you to put on your Sunday’s best for the Holiday. Mrs. Parker, oblivious to the humiliation she was putting her son through, ordered him to don the hot pink bunny pajamas his Aunt Clara made for him. Millions of fans hiss at the thought of having to sport that ridiculous get-up; luckily, the Old Man, despite his shortcomings, saved his boy from continued torture.
8. "I Triple-Dog Dare Ya!"
There have been numerous schoolyard attempts at disproving the infamous tongue-to-flagpole theory. They’ve all ended with the cops and fire department on hand to unhinge would-be thrill-seekers like Flick. It remains one of the most memorable sequences in Bob Clark’s holiday staple.
7. Nothing says Christmas like Peking Duck
Those blasted Bumpus hounds almost ruined the Parker family’s Christmas, but the old man wouldn’t let the mangy mutts have the last laugh. Instead, the whole gang hot-tailed it to the Chop-Suey Palace, where a soon-to-be-headless Christmas duck was on the menu. You may not want to make it a tradition, but it’s always fun to hear an 'alternative' take on Deck the Halls!
6. “Oh, Fudge”
Only he didn’t say "fudge." Thanks to Ralphie Parker, every foul-mouthed youngster knows what to do when caught dropping an F-bomb: Blame it on your best friend. [0:00-1:45 of the video to the right]
5. "Be Sure To Drink Your Ovaltine"
Growing up is tough on a kid. When you reach a certain age, you find out that Santa Claus isn’t real and your whole world is shattered. When Ralphie discovered that his Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring was merely a means of marketing chocolate milk, he learned a valuable lesson about the world.
4. Peter Billingsley
Who says child stars always end up drug addicts? Well, OK, most of them do (we’re looking at you, Danny Bonaduce). Perhaps one of the most nostalgic things about re-watching A Christmas Story years after your first viewing is the knowledge that little Ralphie Parker grew up to be a successful, stand-up guy – producer of films like Iron Man and Four Christmases and director of this year's hit comedy Couples Retreat. Now that’s a Hollywood ending.
3. Santa in Wonderland
I’ve heard of children being scared of Santa before, and this trippy visit to the local mall Santa justifies that fear. Ralphie has to endure what could only be described as a Tim Burton-like run-in with the Claus, complete with fun-house-mirror North Pole rejects, a rushed-gift wish list and a spiraling slide of shame –effectively tarnishing his holiday spirit. This is every kid’s worst nightmare and one of the funniest scenes in the movie.
The old man's prized posession – the leg lamp – broken into a million little pieces. Who can say if Mrs. Parker broke the lamp on purpose? Only she knows for sure. What we do know is the box from which the lamp came was was marked 'Fragile' (frageeeley) and that may be the greatest foreshadowing in film history.
1. “You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!"
Even if you haven't seen A Christmas Story (all eight of you), you're probably familiar with this iconic line. Since 1983, it’s become every mother's default response to almost all things projectile and they will use it to shoot down any attempts for a tyke to get his or her hands on “an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time.” Even though Ralphie’s mother, teacher and Santa Claus himself advised him not to mess with the coveted BB gun, you just can't stop a kid from dreaming.