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A Christmas Story

By Jim Emerson

A Christmas Story is on its way to becoming an annual holiday classic, one to keep on the shelf with It's a Wonderful Life, the puppet-animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. It may have been directed by Bob Clark (responsible for the Porky's pictures), but it's based on the childhood memoirs of humorist Jean Shepherd (from his hilarious book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash). And it is Shepherd's wry, deadly accurate and gently nostalgic comic sensibility that shines through in this kid's-eye-view of an all-American Christmas in the 1940s. All little Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants under the tree on Christmas morning is a Daisy Brand Red-Ryder BB rifle. He not only wants it, he's consumed with an aching desire for it. Unfortunately, his mother (Melinda Dillon) repeatedly crushes his dreams with the familiar, harsh mantra: "You'll put your eye out!" Among the movie's highlights are a surrealistic visit with little brother Randy to a department store Santa, and the childlike mixture of delight, pride, and awe with which Ralphie's dad (Darren McGavin) takes possession of a spectacularly gaudy prize he's won in a radio contest. McGavin should have won an award for his splendid comic work as a middle-aged-kid-turned-patriarch who alternates between grownup temper tantrums and unabashed juvenile joy.

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Bob Clark

Stars: Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, Tedde Moore

Released: November 18, 1983

Availability: DVD VHS


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