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28 Things You Didn’t Know About “A Christmas Story”- Facts About “A Christmas Story”

We’ve all come to know — and love — the Parker family over the years. They almost feel like extended family at this point. After all, A Christmas Story (which plays for a whopping 24 hours straight on Christmas Eve on TBS and, you know, basically just all December long) is a bonafide holiday classic. No matter how many times you’ve seen it (who’s counting?!), there are probably a few movie facts you don’t know. Keep reading if you want to bring a few interesting nuggets to your annual viewing this year.

1

It’s based on a book by Jean Shepherd.

In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash is the foundation for this family favorite. The author, Jean Shepherd, even narrates the film and makes a brief appearance in the department store scene when Ralphie and Randy wait to see Santa. Unfortunately, reports say Jean was a nuisance on set, constantly second-guessing director Bob Clark’s work — but thankfully everything worked out in the end.

2

Jean Shepherd made another movie that sounds … familiar.

In 1976, Jean released and narrated The Phantom of the Open Hearth, about a boy named Ralph Parker (not Ralphie this time around) preparing for his prom, his brother Randy, and — what do you know? — even a leg lamp that ends up shattered.

3

Peter Billingsley was the first kid to audition for the role of Ralphie.

Although he was the first kid to audition, director Bob Clark insisted on seeing other actors — actually thousands. As we all know, Peter ultimately got the job, and he claims Bob pushed him to act out of his comfort zone. You know the scene where Ralphie is shooting bandits and chewing tobacco? According to Peter, the tobacco he chewed in the movie was as real as it gets. He even said that the tobacco caused him to feel “really dizzy” and his “lips started burning.”

4

There were three leg lamps made for the movie.

But none of them survived. Production designer Reuben Freed sketched different versions of the leg lamp until the director chose the one he liked best. Three leg lamps of the same design were created but were all broken during filming. Sad! But luckily, you can buy your own leg lamp on Amazon.

5

The leg lamp didn’t have an electrical cord.

How have we never noticed this before?! When it’s first taken out of the “fragile” box, there’s no electrical cord or lightbulb to be found. It’s only after the lampshade is discovered that the leg magically lights up.

6

The furnace fight scene was completely ad-libbed.

Darren McGavin admitted he found it too hard to string together angry sentences on the spot without using profanity, so he opted for complete gibberish instead. No cursing was crucial to keeping the movie’s PG rating.

7

Ralphie’s “Scut Farkus” was NOT ad-libbed.

On the opposite end, another iconic physical scene from the movie was scripted down to the very last word. The irrational, rambling rant Ralphie goes on while beating up his bully was written into the script.

8

Melinda Dillon’s reaction in the restaurant scene is real.

Melinda Dillon, who plays Ralphie’s mother, was completely caught off guard seeing the duck served with its head. In fact, she was intentionally given the wrong script so that her reaction — including every laugh and shriek that ended up being left in the film — is completely genuine.

9

There’s a secret deleted scene with an ’80s superhero.

The deleted scene featured Ralphie rescuing Flash Gordon from Ming the Merciless on planet Mongo. The Christmas Story Museum in Ohio has the pages from the script, and even a picture of the character in space. Interestingly, both Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless are in the end credits of the film.

10

The snow was totally fake.

Although the movie was shot in two snowy destinations (Cleveland and Toronto), most of the snow and frost was the result of frozen water and massive snow blowers. It took roughly 24 hours to create the winter wonderland we see on the screen.

11

Ralphie doesn’t know how to spell Christmas.

Look closely and you’ll spot his assignment from Mrs. Shields comes back with a very noticeable “Chistmas.” Despite giving him a C+, the teacher doesn’t seem to notice or correct the missing “r.” Of all words!

12

The flagpole scene was actually painless to film.

We’ve all seen it (and some may have even tried it themselves), but the flagpole scene proves not everything is as it appears. Scott Schwartz, the actor who played Flick, revealed that a suction tube (basically a mini vacuum cleaner) helped suction his tongue to the pole for the entirety of the scene. Thankfully, no harm was done.

13

Jack Nicholson was almost cast as Old Man Parker.

14

Remember the kid wearing goggles? He wasn’t an actor.

He wasn’t even supposed to be in the movie in the first place — seriously. When filming the Santa scene at the department store, Bob Clark found a kid he thought would be a great fit for the movie (because of his stylish goggles, of course). The young boy — and his guardian — took Bob’s offer and the rest is history.

15

Ralphie didn’t actually have a soapy mouth.

The soap scene, while believable, was all thanks to Peter Billingsley’s sharp acting skills. The iconic red Lifebuoy soap we saw in the movie was actually made of wax. Because of the movie’s small budget, real soap was out of the question. Bob Clark chose this soap brand, because it was known for tasting the worst (he knew from a childhood experience!).

16

It’s unclear exactly when the movie is supposed to take place.

There are many clues that hint at what era the Parkers are living in throughout the film — except they bizarrely all suggest different years. First, Mrs. Parker mentions a Bears vs. Packers game, which happened in 1941. Then the Orphan Annie decoder pin shown on screen is the same model that came out in 1940. And the calendar in the kitchen has December 1st on a Friday, which took place in 1939.

17

‘A Christmas Story’ wasn’t in theaters on Christmas.

Director Bob Clark explained that after premiering a week before Thanksgiving, the movie sat in theaters during “the two slowest weeks of the year.” As a result, it was pulled from theaters before Christmas, except for a few select screens. If it played in late December, he predicted it would have tripled or quadrupled its earnings.

18

You can stay at the Parker family house.

19

Ralphie most certainly didn’t say “fudge.”

We all know the scene where Ralphie utters the “the word, the big one, the queen mother of dirty words, the F-dash-dash-dash word!” It turns out, they had 12-year-old Peter Billingsley go all out for every take. “Oh, they had me say ‘f–k,'” he told BuzzFeed in 2013. “On all the takes. I think we looped in the word ‘fudge’ on top of it, so you could get the mouth to curl to the consonant of ‘K’ instead of ‘D.’ I was like, ‘Ohhhhhh, f–k!’ I had been in Hollywood for a long time at that point; it wasn’t the first time I’d heard it, or probably said it.”

20

The Schwartz shuffle will leave you very, very confused.

Ralphie’s two best friends in the film are Schwartz (played by R.D. Robb) and Flick (played by a real Schwartz: Scott Schwartz). When Ralphie tells his mom it was “Schwartz” who taught him how to say “fudge,” the voice you hear over the phone in the following scene — which is supposed to be R.D.’s fictional friend, Schwartz — is actually the voice of Scott Schwartz. Got it?

21

Peter Billingsley didn’t leave the set empty-handed.

He got to take home some souvenirs once filming wrapped. He shared on the DVD commentary that he kept three items: The Red Ryder BB gun, the pink bunny suit and Ralphie’s broken glasses. It’s more like two items, though, since the glasses were his own and not a prop!

22

Old Man Parker goes the entire film without revealing his name.

Some fans swear the character’s name is Hal, because of a brief conversation he has with a neighbor in one of the smaller scenes. But the screenplay says the word that was used was “hell,” not “Hal.”

23

You can thank Ralphie for Kevin Arnold.

Once you see the similarities, you can’t unsee them. A Christmas Story inspired the creation of The Wonder Years, which premiered a few years later in 1988. The premise, a coming-of-age tale set alongside an adult narrator, was so heavily influenced by the film that Peter Billingsley appeared as a roommate of Kevin Arnold’s in the final episodes.

24

The film has not one, not two, but three sequels.

25

‘A Christmas Story’ wasn’t Peter Billingsley’s last holiday film.

If the lead toymaker in 2003’s Elf, Ming Ming, looks familiar, that’s because it’s Ralphie all grown up. Peter starred opposite Will Ferrell in the classic Christmas movie.

26

The actor who played Randy temporarily lived in the Parker house.

In 2010, Ian Petrella moved into the house from the movie in Cleveland. After quitting acting to pursue graphic design, he befriended the owner of the home and asked if he could reside there for a few months. He ended up moving into the third floor and gave tours and hosted meet-and-greets with visitors.

27

Two superfans went on an unforgettable ‘A Christmas Story’ adventure — and filmed the whole thing.

In 2008, Jordie and Tyler Schwartz took their love of A Christmas Story to two countries over the course of two years to track down every shooting location in the movie. The documentary, Road Trip for Ralphie, uncovered long lost memorabilia, little known facts and set secrets.

28

‘A Christmas Story’ was made into a musical.

The Parker family headed to Broadway in 2012. The show, which Peter Billingsley was a producer for, was filled with the same silly antics, lines and scenes from the film. The songs were written by the famous duo known as Pasek and Paul, who went on to find massive fame with their work for La La Land and The Greatest Showman. You won’t be able to get “Ralphie to the Rescue” out of your head once you hear it.

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Scoop Sky is a blog with all the enjoyable information on many subjects, including fitness and health, technology, fashion, entertainment, dating and relationships, beauty and make-up, sports and many more.

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