Monday, December 16, 2013

Everything I learned in life I learned from the Movies: A Christmas Story



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...


Poor Ralphie....

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?

Sigh...



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!



 

16 comments:

  1. I know it's beginning to sound as if we didn't have a tv growing up but I haven't seen this either! I did love going to see Santa when I was a child, it was the best thing ever, my favourite part was always the decorated path/journey towards Santa, some shops had really long and elaborately decorated ones, I loved the magic of it all. Wish adults could still go see Santa!

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    1. I'm not sure that this isn't a quintessentially north American nostalgia treat. It was made in the 80s. If you see it on the telly, stop and watch for sure! I would love to go see Santa too - I only went once as a child!

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  2. I'm with Tabs, I don't think I've seen it! But the tongue on icy post scene seems familiar....
    Laughing at the brilliant essay problem. I remember writing the Coolest Ever creative writing story when I was 15. In it the main character, a young woman, drank approximately a full bottle of vodka while driving around aimlessly in her car with a hitchhiker. I think she was having an existentialist crisis from memory. For some reason, my English teacher wrote down the bottom "You should stick to writing about things you have had experience with". I was shocked! Although looking back, my teacher had a point as I can see that my heroine was not going to be able to do much at all after a bottle of vodka. Especially managing to drive a car at high speed without killing herself/ the hitchhiker (or dying of alcohol poisoning). So I think my English teacher was right....

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    1. Driving around with a bottle of vodka in her - love that!!!!!

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  3. I am now not feeling so left out! I have not seen this... But I trust your critique Wendy :)

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    1. In Wendy we Trust! The original title of Jean Sheperd's short story (upon which the movie was based ) was "In God We Trust, All Other's Pay Cash"!

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  4. I have seen this movie multiple times and I never tire of it. So funny. I have also learned don't let Mom dress you in winter…if you get pushed down you will never get back up. And, in the end, those adults really did know something…you will shoot your eye out. I especially love the "lamp" and the mother's reaction to it all.

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    1. And dad's hangover on Christmas morning! I love the scene of the little brother on the sidewalk, unable to move!

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  5. CHINESE TURKEY WMM, while most of A Christmas Story was shot in Cleveland, the school is in St. Catherine's, the Chinese restaurant here in Toronto. Since you love the film, see of you can track down a doco Road Trip for Ralphie. Either CBC or Global had a piece about it recently.

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    1. I have seen a good chunk of it GF - so much fun!

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  6. This is my little sis' favorite and since we'll be with her soon, I expect we'll see it again. Recalls being stuffed into your snow clothes and sent out to play. Such a fun movie!

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    1. I remember those cloth snow suits - brutal!

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  7. Another movie I don't know :-(( It looks I am lacking of classics! But for now, the one thing I will keep in mind is: Dreams can come true... Have a lovely week.

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    1. Steph - I bet your son would get a real kick out of this one!

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  8. My personal favorite x-mas show was the original Grinch. I didn't see this movie until DH introduced it to me a few years ago. Now it is a favorite as we drag the DVDs out of attic for their annual viewing. Sadly this has not been played yet, but once Slugger finishes finals we will have a film fest. I love the faithful housewife/mom in this film. I love when she bundles Ralphie up in his snowsuit-classic!

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