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A Christmas Story
Airdate: Wednesday - November 16, 1983


Last Update: 11-11-2012

Show Description
There's also a lovely time to be had at this little memory piece as well as constructed out of several tales by the pawky mid-Western humorist Jean Shepherd and told in his book "In God We Trust - All Others PayCash" (a title that conveys the humor of this film much better that its current title. It's 1939, 1940, somewhere around there, in a city that seems to be Cleveland, though several of the cars bear Indiana license plates. No matter, it's Winter, definite snow-covered, temperature in the teens Winter, already the time of the year when a little kid can get so bundled up he can't even get his arms down to his side anymore and a tongue, if applied to a telephone pole even on the strongest dares (the sinister Triple Dog Dare) will definitely stick. It is also shortly before Christmas and our particular hero, a slightly rotund, eye-glassed nine year old, has but one wish in life: to be the proud , Proud owner of a genuine Red Ryder Carbine Action Two Hundred Shot Lightning Loader Range Model Air Rifle with a shock proof high adventure combination trail compass and sundial set right in the stock. How he connives to get it, bypassing the classic mother B.B. gun ploy ("Too dangerous. You'll shoot your eye out"), trying pincer movement skirmishes through a school paper and a visit to the local downtown Santa Claus (the grumpiest Santa you've ever seen) and coping as well with the neighborhood bully, his father's adventures with newspaper contests and high art and that terrible dreadful day when in the height of furor (he actually says the "F" word) make up the substance of a wonderfully agreeable film. It's the sort of movie that parents always say they are looking for and then don't go to. Shepherd's narration has a nice habit of setting up a sequence with just the right sort of anticipatory suggestion ("my kid brother had not eaten a meal voluntarily in over three years."), Darren McGavin's energy, which often has made him seem a bit of a ham in more straight faced roles, finds the perfect complement in the role of the bumptious, eternally enthusiastic father. Melinda Dillon makes a charmingly contentious mother and all the kids, especially Billingsley as the owlish hero and Yano Anaya as the sneering tough guy have been exceedingly well handled by director Bob Clark (is this the same man who made Porky's?) The result is just the sort of all-around family picture that everybody says they're looking for at Christmas and can never find. Nor will they find it in all probability this year since it's opening before Christmas and will doubtless be long gone before the kids get to the packages under the tree. What rotten planning! Still those of us who have seen it can treasure such moments as the look on Master Billingsley's face when his Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring finally arrives or Shepherd's minute and a half discourse on the bouquet and aroma of all the possible soaps use to wash out a mouth or the sight of the kid brother fast asleep among all the flotsam and jetsam of Christmas wrappings, one thumb secure in his mouth, the other clasping the newest dearest possession, a toy zeppelin.
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