The first strains of music, played by a Salvation Army band, tells us that we are in for a nostalgic treat. This is a love letter to its audience, written by Jean Sheperd about his childhood reminisces of growing up in Indiana, and lovingly directed by Bob Clarke, whose claim to fame prior to this movie was the Porky's franchise..
The details in this film are wonderful; you feel as if you are stepping into the 1940s, from the sockets shooting flames, the coal furnace, the clothes, the store window displays, the Little Orphan Annie secret decoder...
It is around 1940, and our hero is Ralphie Parker, whose sole desire is to get a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. But it seems an elusive dream, since every adult he tells says "YOU'LL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT KID!" How many of us, regardless of when we were born, have been victims of our parents telling us that some dreamed-for gift was cheap or dangerous? Sigh..
But no matter, I've learned a lot from A Christmas Story and want to share that with you!
Be careful where you put your tongue..
Poor Flick. The Triple Dog Dare. He had no choice but to put that tongue on that flagpole. And he gets abandoned by his friends, since after all, the bell did ring...Take a page from his book and keep your tongue in your mouth in the dead of winter (maybe summer too)
Hope that Mom Buys Nice-Tasting Soap..
Ralph uses THE word while helping his dad change the tire on the car. How many of us have accidentally sworn in front of our parents or another grownup as kids? I have tasted the ivory soap myself, circa 1971 and for some transgression I cannot now recall...
Store Santas Have a lot of 'tude
If the Store Santa on Miracle on 34th Street is goodness personified, the Santa in the department store in a Christmas Story is a horror story, albeit a funny one... Just don't count on them for your Christmas dreams..
There's always a relative with a lousy gift
For me it was pajamas - polyester pink concoctions with frills that were sent by a distant relatives and which never fit.
For Ralphie, it is also a pink concoction, from Aunt Clara...
The best things come in the mail...
And if you win it in a contest, and it is FRAGEELAY (Fragile), all the better..
Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself
The boys are being tormented by the neighbourhood bully and finally Ralphie loses it. While one can never endorse violence as an option, there is something satisfying about Ralphie standing up for himself...
You always think the teacher is going to love it, but they never do..
Yup - you've written the BEST ESSAY EVER!
you expect that the teacher will write on the bottom of the paper "most magnificent use of the English language since Shakespeare", but it never quite works out like that, does it?
Be Prepared to be Flexible
In the movie, the Bumpus' evil dogs steal the Christmas dinner. But no worries, there is the Chop Suey Palace, where you will be treated like Christmas royalty...
Dreams Can Come True
The best scene in the movie is when the father has hidden the BB gun behind the desk. It is pure magic and reminds us that when we can make a child's dream come true, whatever that dream is, it is soooo worth it..
Embrace the Chaos
And in the end, we love the chaos and the joy and most of all we love our family, for isn't that what Christmas day is all about?
Yes this is a charming, cozy film, and I never tire of watching it, and I especially never tire of watching Darren McGavin's tour de force as the Old Man. He is perfection!
What lessons have you learned from A Christmas Story? Do tell! Have a great Monday and stay sage out there!