Tonight you’re all the guests, as we discuss amongst ourselves one of the classics of the America holiday genre, the 1983 A Christmas Story, directed by Bob Clark. The movie is based on In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd, a collection of semi-fictional stories about growing up in a small Mid-Western town between World Wars. Shepherd is also the narrator.
A Christmas Story centers around Ralphie Parker and his wish for his ultimate Christmas gift, a Red Rider BB gun with a compass in the stock and a “thing that tells the time.” But Ralphie’s holiday wish is thwarted by adults who continually tell him
No, you’ll put your eye out with that thing.
From his mom to Santa, the Red Rider BB gun is decried as an object of evil. But maybe Santa will come through. And if he does, what if the grown-ups are right?
A number of subplots and short arcs run through the film (which is shown repeatedly as marathon now on cable): Ralphie’s friend Flick is triple-dead-dog-dared to stick his tongue on a frozen flag pole (my stepmom got tricked into doing that as a kid), he and his friends are set upon by the bully Farkis; the neighbor’s dogs, Ralphie’s use of the
Queen Mother of Dirty Words
and the Battle of the Lamp all play a part in this tapestry of Americana which has become one of the most beloved films of the last 30 years.