Top Ten Things You Likely Don’t Know About A Christmas Story
10. Let’s jump right in with the coup de grace of all dares. The Triple Dog Dare. When Flick is triple-dog-dared to put his tongue on the school yard flagpole, it sticks. 1983 special effect: It’s a prop pole with a small opening. A suction cup inside makes sure Flick’s tongue is “stuck.”
9. Flick was played by Scott Schwartz. He was the rich brat in The Toy with Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason and also starred in the lesser known TV film A Time to Live with Liza Minnelli and Corey Haim. After Haim’s death last year, his family asked Schwartz to sell Haim’s personal belongings on eBay to help raise money for his funeral.
Okay, this is getting too heavy too fast. Let’s keep things Christmas-y.
8. Jean Shepherd, whose semi-autobiographical stories create the basis for the film, is the narrator. He also has a cameo. When the 24-hour marathon rolls around, keep an eye out for the shopping mall dad who snootily directs Ralphie and Randy to the back of the Santa line. That’s Shep.
7. Jack Nicholson was interested in the role of Ralphie’s old man, Mr. Parker. But someone didn’t want to pay him that much money. (dramatic italics) Fortunately, the part was given to Darren McGavin, who CRUSHED it. Those facial expressions, those rants! I can’t imagine anyone else in that role. You deserve a PopTen post all to yourself, Mr. McGavin. R.I.P.
6. The Cleveland house that served as the Parker’s home has been gutted and restored to mirror its movie appearance, inside and out. Mega fanboy Brian Jones bought it on eBay in 1994 for $150,000. He used revenue from his Red Ryder Leg Lamp business for the down payment. Hellooooo, fra-gee-lay exports.
5. Barbara Billingsley, better known as TV sweetheart June Cleaver, was Peter Billingsley’s first cousin, once removed (at least until she and her husband divorced). She took Peter to some of his earliest auditions. Here’s one of his kiddy commercials, for Candyland. Don’t get stuck in Molasses Swamp!
4. The Red Ryder BB Gun in the movie wasn’t entirely accurate. Ralphie wanted a Red Ryder with a compass and a sundial, features found on the Daisy “Buck Jones” model. These were added to Ralphie’s Red Ryder, opposite the stock because Peter Billingsley is a leftie — a leftie whose grown-up self was an executive producer on The Break-Up and Iron Man.
3. Three of Shepherd’s short stories that helped create the basis of the film were originally published in Playboy in the mid ’60s. Playboy ran several more of his tales in the years that followed. You can see the illustrations that accompanied the stories here.
2. This exists: http://www.flicklives.com/
It’s dedicated to “the historical preservation of a modern day raconteur,” i.e. Jean Shepherd. Poking around the site will bring up links to Shepherd’s radio broadcasts and related stories.
1. A sequel called It Runs in the Family (aka My Summer Story) was released in 1994. Kieren Culkin plays Ralphie. In bigger and badder sequel fashion, the neighboring Bumpus family has 43 bloodhounds. Who knows if they stole the Old Man’s turkey?