Many Christmas films of our parents' childhoods focused on classic Christmas myths like those of Frosty the Snowman, Santa Clause, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
In 1983, however, there came a film that focused on one boy's dream of the perfect Christmas gift. Even though it is set in the late 1930s/early 1940s, the movie still feels timeless. Many of us grew up watching it a couple of times each Christmas, thanks to the annual 24-hour marathon sessions by TNT and TBS.
We all relate to the desire for that one thing — that one gift that we knew would make our Christmases and subsequent lives perfect. In celebration of the film's 30th Anniversary, here are 30 things you may not have known about A Christmas Story.
The movie is based on Jean Shepherd's memoir, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. The book collected tales of his childhood, some of which appeared in Playboy and on Shepherd's radio program in the 1960s. So when your Grandpa said he was only reading it for the articles, this is what he was reading.
The house, used for external shots of Ralphie's home, was purchased in 2005 on eBay by an avid fan. The house interior was renovated to look more like the interior on film. The house is now known as A Christmas Story House and Museum and is located in the Tremont neighborhood on Cleveland's West Side.
If Bob Clark's earlier film Porky's had not had such success, A Christmas Story might not have gotten the green light. Porky's $111,289,673 U.S. box office gross allowed Clark the freedom to make A Christmas Story. The studio wanted a sequel for Porky's; Clark agreed to it only if he had permission to make this film.
As part of a 50-movie deal with Warner Bros., MGM sold the rights of A Christmas Story in 1986. TNT first aired the film in 1988 for 24 hours beginning on Christmas Eve as a stunt, but popular support quickly turned it into an annual tradition. Today, TBS hosts the annual showing.
The "Red Ryder carbine-action two-hundred shot range model air rifle BB gun with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time" is not an actual product, but the Red Ryder BB gun did in fact exist and continues to be in production today.
Clark appears as the neighbor Swede, the man who comments on the infamous leg lamp when it first lights up in the window.
Shepherd appears in the line for Santa as the angry man who tells Ralphie to get to the back of the line.
On the 2003 DVD's commentary, Clark mentions that he worked with Shepherd on the script for nearly 10 years before it was finally made.
But Billingsley was actually 12 at the time of filming.
"It's a Major Award!" You can purchase your own here.
The Santa Claus scene was filmed in Higbee's in downtown Cleveland. There was no Higbee's in Shepherd's actual town of Hammond.
There are references in the movie to anywhere from 1939-1946, but the director and Shepherd wanted it to be more of a general time period (late 1930s, early 1940s) than a specific year.
This led to many of the actors slipping and sliding during the scenes with the bullies.
One, a 1988 made-for-TV movie titled Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss, featured the Parker family going on vacation to a Michigan lakeside camp. Another, 1994's It Runs in the Family (also titled My Summer Story), delves more deeply into the Old Man's battles with the hillbilly Bumpuses, Ralphie's search for the perfect spinning top, and Ralphie's mom searching for another gift from the local cinema other than the gravy boat she always gets. Both of these were written by Jean Shepherd, with Clark also directing It Runs in the Family.
Another sequel, A Christmas Story 2, was released in 2012 straight-to-DVD and features Daniel Stern as the Old Man. This time, a teenaged Ralphie seeks to get a Mercury Convertible for Christmas.
The Academy Award-winner was given the script and was very interested in the role of Ralphie's father, but the studio was hesitant to pay Nicholson's fee and salary (which would have doubled the film's budget). Clark was very adamant that Darren McGavin was perfect for the role anyway, and who can blame him?