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Summary

Warm nostalgia colors comic 'Christmas Story'
Airdate: Friday - November 18, 1983

Review

Last Update: 02-05-2012

Show Description
Back in the days when school kids still read "Silas Marner" and winter toddlers were cocooned within so many layers of bulky clothes that they waddled like penguins through the snow, a story much like "A Christmas Story" might have happened. Forget the dumb title. "A Christmas Story" is a first-rate nostalgia trip and the first Christmas movie in years that wouldn't turn Santa into Scrooge overnight. It's based on humorist Jean Shepherd's 1967 collection of stories "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" (much better title!) about his innocent Midwestern youth in the early '40s, when the heaviest , state-of-the-art artillery a nine year old boy could expect for Christmas was a Red Ryder air rifle. And that only after confessing his "ecstasy of unbridled avarice" to a bored and irritable department store Santa. Such is the experience of Ralphie (Peter Billingsley), a bespectacled but stout-hearted Indiana (actually Cleveland) lad who yearns for his BB gun the way Little Orphan Annie Lusts to become a capitalist. (In fact, Ralphie has sent away for a Little Orphan Annie Decoder, but becomes disillusioned with it when the secret radio message turns out to be a plug for her sponsor, Ovaltine). But first Ralphie must convince his parents (Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin) that he won't put his eyes out with the toy. And he must endure the sudden assaults of Scutt Farkas (Zack Ward), the school bully with yellow eyes and braces on his teeth, as he accosts him every afternoon on the way home from school. He must also endure the competition of kid brother Randy (Ian Petrella), who refuses to eat unless he can smear his face with mashed potatoes, and the indifference of his teacher to his deeply felt prose masterpiece on "What I Want For Christmas." Worst of all, he's caught swearing and gets his mouth washed out with soap by an outraged mother. Ralphie's tribulations are narrated off-screen in glowing reminiscence by Shepherd himself, who starts out a bit overblown for the material, but soon enough calms down into a most beguiling host. Sometimes Shepherd's memoirs take the form of hilarious fantasies Ralphie has - fantasies that place him somewhere in American literature between Penrod and Charlie Brown. And for reasons too complicated to go into, his may be the only suburban family in Indiana, circa 1940, to end up having its distinctly odd Christmas dinner in a Chinese Restaurant. "A Christmas Story" is directed by Bob Clark, presumably as penance for directing "Porky's." A wonderful movie at any time, it's a rare little treat for the festive season.
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November 18,1983
Star-Ledger

Courtesy: William Welsch

    
Airdate History ' - Original' date is earliest known broadcast)
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