Sunday, December 18, 2011

"A Christmas Story" 1983

"A Christmas Story"

Every year on Christmas Eve one of the cable channels shows this movie non-stop for 24 hours.  My husband hates it.  I think the main reason is that boy who played Ralphie also played Messy Marvin.

The poor kid just wanted some Hershey's in his chocolate milk. 

In "A Christmas Story" it was the same.  He had a desire.  He had a dream.

Ralphie: I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!

But poor Ralphie was beset by obstacles on all sides. 

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at it's zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.

In pursuit of his dream he has many side adventures.  Ralphie lives in Cleveland with his foul mouthed, turkey obsessed father, his slightly dreamy, over protective mother, and his non-eating little brother. 

First he is disillusioned by Little Orphan Annie, when he discovers her secret decoder only reveals advertisements for Ovaltine.

He has to write a theme for school.   He is inspired by his dream of the perfect BB Gun, but again, his hopes are dashed.

Ralphie as Adult: [regarding the note on his report] Oh, no! "You'll shoot your eye out!"?
Ralphie: Oh, no!
Ralphie as Adult: My mother must have gotten to Miss Shields! There could be no other explanation!
Miss Shields, Mother: [in Ralphie's fantasy, Miss Shields is dressed as the Wicked Witch and Ralphie's mother as a jester, both chanting] "You'll shoot your eye out! You'll shoot your eye out! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Ralphie as Adult: Was there no end to this conspiracy of irrational prejudice against Red Ryder and his peacemaker?
There is his best friend being "Triple Dog Dared" into putting his tongue on a frozen pole.
Flick: Are you kidding? Stick my tongue to that stupid pole? That's dumb!
Schwartz: That's 'cause you know it'll stick!
Flick: You're full of it!
Schwartz: Oh yeah?
Flick: Yeah!
Schwartz: Well I double-DOG-dare ya!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] NOW it was serious. A double-dog-dare. What else was there but a "triple dare you"? And then, the coup de grace of all dares, the sinister triple-dog-dare.
Schwartz: I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Schwartz created a slight breach of etiquette by skipping the triple dare and going right for the throat!
Soon a most momentous occasion occurs.  My brother-in-law calls me every year to ask the same question.  (Since I am a movie nut.)
"What does Ralphie's dad call the leg lamp."
Mr. Parker: It's a Major Award!
Swede: Shucks, I wouldn't know that. It looks like a lamp.
Mr. Parker: What is a lamp, you nincompoop? It's a Major Award. I won it!
Ralphie's mom doesn't care for the "Major Award".  It leads to a controversy that haunts the family for years to come.  His mother is gently dusting the living room when there is a crash.
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating, after Mother breaks the Old Man's Major Award, and he is unsuccessful at repairing it] With as much dignity as he could muster, the Old Man gathered up the sad remains of his shattered major award. Later that night, alone in the backyard, he buried it next to the garage. Now I could never be sure, but I thought that I heard the sound of "Taps" being played, gently.
Ralphie goes to see Santa and it doesn't turn out well.  By the time he reaches Santa's lap, he has lost the ability to speak.

Santa Claus: How about a nice football?
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Football? Football? What's a football? With unconscious will my voice squeaked out 'football'.
Santa Claus: Okay, get him out of here.
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] A football? Oh no, what was I doing? Wake up, Stupid! Wake up!
Ralphie: [Ralphie is shoved down the slide, but he stops himself and climbs back up] No! No! I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!
Santa Claus: You'll shoot your eye out, kid.
On the way home from Santa, they run into a little trouble when they get a flat.  Ralphie goes to help and inadvertently says a bad word.
Ralphie: Oooh fuuudge!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Only I didn't say "Fudge." I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word!
Mr. Parker: [stunned] *What* did you say?
Ralphie: Uh, um...
Mr. Parker: That's... what I thought you said. Get in the car. Go on!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] It was all over - I was dead. What would it be? The guillotine? Hanging? The chair? The rack? The Chinese water torture? Hmmph. Mere child's play compared to what surely awaited me.

This leads to getting his mouth washed out with soap.
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. My personal preference was for Lux, but I found Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor - heady, but with just a touch of mellow smoothness. Life Buoy, on the other hand...
Ralphie: YECCHH!
After a few more adventures, including a confrontation with the bully, they make it to Christmas.

And Ralphie's dream comes true. 

But his joy is short lived.

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating, after BB gun shot bounces off target and hits his face] Oh my god, I shot my eye out!

I had a trainer that had, as child actually shot his eye out.  He'd told us the story and how he'd overcome the obstacles. 

A few weeks later he was talking about rules that we'd follow in our job including integrity and other such stuff.   Then he started talking about his responsibilities as a leader in the call center.

"I will not turn a blind eye to any..." 

I don't remember the rest because I got a serious case of the giggles.  That is a lie,  It was full out, falling on the floor laughing, because the first thing I thought was that he turned a blind eye to everything.  I am an awful person.  But later, when I apologized he laughed at himself too.

Back to the story.  It could have ended there, a morality lesson about giving children fire arms, but they went on.  With the Turkey incident.

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, ALL GONE!
And Chinese food for dinner.  With caroling.
[in a Chinese restaurant]
Waiter #1, Waiter #2, Waiter #3: [singing] Deck the harrs with boughs of horry, fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra.
Chop Suey Palace Owner: No, no, not 'ra ra ra ra', 'la la la la'! Try again.
Waiter #1, Waiter #2, Waiter #3: Deck the harrs with boughs of horry, fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra.
Chop Suey Palace Owner: No, no! Sing something else.
Waiter #1, Waiter #2, Waiter #3: Jingre bers, jingre bers, jingre arr the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sreigh!
This movie has so many moments, I am sure I've missed some favorites. 
Like the Pink Nightmare.  Or the battle with the bullies followed by his mother's slick cover-up.  Or Randy being a piggy or in his snowsuit.
If I am a little out of order, blame it on the marathon.  It has been a while since I've watched it all in one sitting. 
I will keep trying to convince my husband that it is a good movie.  After all, Peter Billingsly went on to make some of his favorite comedies with his best friend Vince Vaughen. 
So, catch the marathon.  Or do like I do and just keep it in the background all day to annoy my husband.  That is what the holidays are all about.


  1. You know...since you've already promised you're gonna make it to Ohio one of these days to visit the prison where they filmed the Shawshank Redemption, I think we need to make a side trip to Cleveland and visit the "Christmas Story" house which has been turned into a mini-museum. Your husband will never agree, so we'll have to pretend we're going somewhere else. (Yes, I'm evil like that.)

  2. And that is why we are friends! Sounds like a plan. I am going to make it up there soon.