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From its smothering snowsuits to its snarky Santa, its obsession with the perfect present, and that cursed bunny suit, A Christmas Story is the ultimate holiday movie. But we bet no matter how many times you’ve watched this 1983 classic on TV, you don’t know all the fun facts below.
- A Christmas Story wouldn’t exist without Porky’s. The raunchy teen sex comedy proved such a hit for writer-director Bob Clark that he was given the chance to make his dream project, which happened to be a heartwarming story of a young boy’s Yuletide shenanigans.
- It’s based on a real life. Well, sort of. A Christmas Story is inspired by Jean Shepherd’s In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, a collection of short stories that are semi-autobiographical. Shepherd co-wrote A Christmas Story with his wife Leigh Brown, and Bob Clark.
- The author and his wife have a cameo in the movie. Shepherd and Brown can be spotted in line to see Santa at the department store. He’s the one who tells Ralphie and Randy to get to the back of the line!
- The writer-director also has a cameo. You know that neighbor that is awe-struck by Mr. Parker’s “major award” leg lamp? That’s A Christmas Story’s helmer Bob Clark.
- Clark’s interest began with “Flick’s Tongue.” The cringe-inducing scene where Ralphie’s pal gets double-dog-dared into sticking his tongue to a frozen pole caught Clark’s attention when it was read on the radio in 1968.
- No Flicks were harmed. While the predicament of Flick being stuck to that pole looks quite painful, the production spared child actor Scott Schwartz a wounded tongue by using a small suction tube to connect him to the pole, but not to the ice.
- Jack Nicholson was almost the Old Man. Nicholson was eager to tackle the role of Ralphie’s cantankerous dad, but the studio balked at his pay demands, which were said to be so big they would have doubled the film’s budget.
- Wil Wheaton could have been Ralphie. Predating his memorable turn in Stand By Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wheaton auditioned for A Christmas Story’s bespectacled protagonist. But Peter Billingsley ultimately won the part.
- The Red Ryder BB gun Ralphie describes was fictitious. Though Red Ryder BB guns have been sold since 1938, it wasn’t that model that had a compass and sundial in the stock. But the Daisy “Buck Jones” model doesn’t sound as cool.
- It did well in theaters, but blew up on television. The $4 million family comedy made an impressive $19 million upon its theatrical release. But on television, it found an ever-growing audience that spurred TBS to create a recurring 24-hour-a-day Christmas marathons of the movie.
- Ralphie’s rant was not nonsense. When Ralphie stands up to the bully Scut Farkus, the torrent of grumbled profanities he spews was actually meticulously scripted.
- Farkus is a wolf. Well, metaphorically anyway. His last name translates to “wolf” in Hungarian, and to underline his predatory nature the movie plays the wolf theme from Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.
- Though set in Indiana, the movie was shot in Ohio and Ontario. An exhaustive location scout led the filmmakers to Cleveland, where much of the film was lensed. Some scenes including the Christmas Tree shopping scene, were shot in Toronto.
- Fans turned their pilgrimage to the movie’s locations into a documentary. Road Trip for Ralphie follows two A Christmas Story fanatics as they travel to 15 spots from the film, including Ralphie’s classroom, the department store where Ralphie got the boot from Santa, and the Chinese restaurant where the Parkers ate Christmas dinner.
- A Christmas Story has had two sequels. My Summer Story brought back the Parkers–but none of their original performers–in 1994. The whole clan was recast again for A Christmas Story 2 in 2012. Both sequels went straight to home video/DVD.
- Several books have been written about the film including A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic by Caseen Gaines. The book was published in 2013, and features previously unpublished photos and stories.
- It was also a Broadway musical. A Christmas Story the Musical ran at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre for 51 performances in the winter of 2012. Peter Billingsley–the original movie’s Ralphie–served as one of its producers.
- Ralphie’s house is now a museum. In 2005, the house where the exteriors of the Parker Family’s home was sold on eBay to A Christmas Story mega-fan Brian Jones. He spent $150,000 on the house and another $500,000 in renovations to make its inside and outside match the movie. A Christmas Story House Museum is now open year round to the public.