10 Facts About "A Christmas Story" That Won't Shoot Your Eye Out
In 1983, A Christmas Story dethroned A Wonderful Life and became a Christmas classic in its own right.
The film revolves around nine-year-old Ralphie Parker, whose main concerns are to avoid getting beat up by a bully, and to get his hands on his dream Christmas present: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Range Model air rifle that is equipped with a compass and can tell time.
The film is a far cry from the typical sentimental and merry holiday movie, it gave us a satirical look at how real families handle the holidays through the eyes of a child. It also gave us 80s and 90s kids a ton of catchphrases that we still repeat today.
However, no matter how many times we tune into the TBS 24-marathon of A Christmas Story, there is still quite a lot of facts about the movie that you probably don't know about.
Here are a few of them:
1. It's based on a collection of stories first published in Playboy magazine.
In the mid-60s, Jean Shepherd's semi-autobiographical vignettes about his childhood in Indiana were published in Playboy magazine. The stories were eventually turned into a collection titled "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash," which was later turned into the popular film.
2. A Christmas Story only exists because of Porky's
Director Bob Clark had been a fan of Shepherd's work, but he wasn't able to get the funding he needed to adapt In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash into a movie, without proven success. To his surprise, Porky's, a 1982 coming-of-age film about a group of high school boys trying to lose their virginity, was a box office success. Clark was then given the green light to direct the wildly successful A Christmas Story.
3. The famous pole licking scene inspired a statue
Flick going through with the "triple dog dare" and licking the icy pole is arguably one of the most famous scenes in the movie, so the city of Hammond, Indiana erected a bronze statue inspired by Flick to commemorate the film's 30th anniversary.
4. Jack Nicholson was a favorite to play The Old Man
The studio wanted to include some big names in the movie, so they tried scouting Nicholson to play the role of the The Old Man. However, when it came down to money, the studio couldn't cater to the actor's high salary demands. They ended up choosing Darren McGavin, who was Clark's first choice for the role.
5. And Wil Wheaton almost played Ralphie
It's hard to imagine what A Christmas Story would be like without Peter Billingsley as Ralphie, but he almost didn't get the part. Thousands of child actors auditioned for the role, and among them was Wil Wheaton, who later starred as Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
"I can still see my dad, in all his permed, mustached, corduroy-pantsed, 1983 glory, helping me understand how badly Ralphie wanted that BB gun," Wheaton said in an interview a few years ago. "It's a really happy memory, because my dad and I didn't do too many things together when I was a kid, and I always loved it when he'd take me on an audition."
6. Peter Billingsley has a connection to the 2003 holiday movie Elf
Billingsley, who played Ralphie, continued acting after his success in A Christmas Story. He also created a production company, Wild West Picture Show Productions, with his friend and actor Vince Vaughn. The company brought movies like The Break-Up, Four Christmases, Iron Man and Elf to life. The former child star also starred in the film as Ming the elf.
7. There's a deleted scene featuring Flash Gordon and Ming The Merciless
When Ralphie finally got his hands on his dream BB Gun, he daydreams about using it to shoot some villains in his backyard. Many people don't know that this fantasy sequence originally had Ralphie teaming up with Flash Gordon to fight Ming The Merciless. The scene was cut from the final edit of the movie.
8. The movie inspired a hit TV show
A Christmas Story's coming-of-age theme and style of narration inspired the creation of the hit 80s show, The Wonder Years. Peter Billingsley even appeared in final two episodes of the show as one of Kevin's roommates.
9. Zach Ward was initially cast for a different role
Ward, who played Scut Frakus, the bully and bane of Ralphie's existence, was supposed to play the toadie. But Clark switched his role with Grover Dill's when the boys arrived on set.
10. The movie had two sequels
It Runs In The Family, released 11 years after the original movie, didn't garner the same success. Some chalked it up to the new cast, others think they waited to too long to release it.
A second sequel, A Christmas Story 2, came out in 2012, and revolves a teenage Ralphie. The movie didn't sit well with critics, which wasn't a surprise because unlike the original and the first sequel, this version wasn't based on Shepherd's work.