Don’t Shoot Your Eye Out! It’s the 35th Anniversary of A Christmas Story
A tribute to the original, traditional, one-hundred-percent, red-blooded, two-fisted, all-American Christmas, the classic film was released in theatres on November 18, 1983.
Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Scott Schwartz
November 18th, 1983
Directed by Bob Clark (Porky’s) and based on Jean Shepherd’s 1966 novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, the holiday perennial has since become one of the top Christmas movies of all time. Ohhhh, fuuudge!
They say it’s better to give than receive, so here are ten facts to help you celebrate 35 years of A Christmas Story. We triple-dog-dare you to find better trivia!
1. Ambitious Auditions
Although Peter Billingsley was the first kid to read for the role of Ralphie Parker, Bob Clark insisted on auditioning thousands of other children as well. Among those in the casting room included Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Sean Astin (The Goonies).
2. Christmas Cameos
Director Bob Clark and writers Jean Shepherd and Leigh Brown all make cameo appearances in A Christmas Story:
- Clark can be seen as Swede, the Parker family’s inquisitive neighbour
- Shepherd plays the man at Higbee’s department store who directs Ralphie and Randy to the back of the Santa line
- Brown is the woman in the red hat standing in line with Shepherd
3. Old Saint Nicholson
Academy Award-winning actor Jack Nicholson was reportedly very interested in the role of The Old Man. After producers realized that his salary request would skyrocket the film’s budget, the part was eventually given to Darren McGavin.
4. Winter Wonderland
Filmed during a rare snow-free January in Cleveland and Toronto, crew members had to get pretty creative while crafting an authentic winter wonderland. Inventive solutions included using a snow machine, shredded vinyl, soap and potato flakes, firefighting foam, and even snow trucked in from nearby ski resorts and skating arenas.
5. “I triple-dog-dare ya!”
We hate to break it to you, but Flick’s tongue wasn’t actually frozen to the school’s flagpole. Instead, a small suction tube was hidden inside the pole to create the convincing illusion. The infamous scene was immortalized at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, Indiana – Jean Shepherd’s hometown – with a bronze statue of the classic moment.
6. The Big Smoke
Toronto locals and visitors may be surprised to learn that much of A Christmas Story was filmed in The Big Smoke. One of the biggest giveaways is during the tree shopping scene, when one of the city’s iconic Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) streetcars rolls through the background.
7. Repetitive Ralphie
We’ve got to hand it to Ralphie Parker – he’s one persistent kid! In case you lost track, Ralphie says that he wants a Red Ryder BB Gun 28 times over the film’s ninety-minute runtime. That works out to roughly one request every three minutes and 22 seconds.
8. Marathon Madness
Due to increased popularity since the film’s debut, American television channel TBS has aired a 24-hour marathon of the film every year since 1997. Aptly titled 24 Hours of A Christmas Story, the annual broadcast of twelve consecutive viewings begins on Christmas Eve and attracts millions of viewers each holiday season.
9. Bon Appétit!
In an attempt to surprise Melinda Dillon (Mother Parker), the actress was given an edited script while filming the Christmas dinner sequence at Chop Suey Palace. It worked! Dillon’s reaction during the scene is her genuine shock at the full-bodied duck.
10. The Big Smoke: Part Two
Interested in crafting your own A Christmas Story tour during your next visit to Toronto? You’re in luck! Here are a few more locations used throughout the film:
- 232 Queen Street West: lot used for Christmas tree shopping scene (now Queen Warehouse)
- 744 Gerrard Street East: exterior used for Chop Suey Palace
- Cherry Street Bridge: “Ohhhh, fuuudge!” flat tire scene
- 173 Niagara Street (St. Catharines): Warren G. Harding Elementary School exterior (former Victoria School)
A Christmas Story is the ultimate holiday movie.
With so many iconic moments and quotes, A Christmas Story is one of the most essential films to watch over the holidays. Celebrate the 35th anniversary by gathering together with family, friends, hot chocolate, and Ralphie.