A Christmas Story
Wednesday - November 16, 1983
Last Update: 11-11-2012
An MGM/UA release. Produced by Rene DuPont and Bob Clark. Directed by Bob Clark. Features entire cast. Screenplay Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, Bob Clark, adapted from novel, "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" by Jean Shepherd; camera (Medalion color), Reginald H. Morris; editor, Stan Cole; music Carl Zittrer, Paul Zara; production designer Reuben Freed; art director, Gavin Mitchell; set director, Mark Freeborn; costume designer, Mary E. McLeod; sound mixer, Alan Bernard; associate producer, Gary Goch; assistant director, Ken Goelt. Reviewed at MGM/UA studio, Los Angeles, Nov 11, 1983. (MPAA rating, PG) Running time: 94 minutes.
Mother ..................Melinda Dillon
The Old Man........Darren McGavin
Miss Shields.........Tedde Moore
Scut Farcus...........Zack Ward
For those who want to get their Christmas off to an early, idealized start before the real thing sets in, "A Christmas Story" should fit the bill nicely. Based on Jean Shepherd story, "A Christmas Story" is a version of Christmas as it exists only in the imagination. Though it is told through the eyes of a child, adults should find more to respond to in this nostalgic look at growing up in the '40s.
In his radio program, novels and PBS shows, Shepherd has always been best at evoking the texture of life as it used to be in his Midwest childhood. It was a time of innocence and charm "when all was right with the world." "A Christmas Story" is true to that spirit without being cloyingly sentimental or phony.
The films works almost as an illustrated monolog complete with narration by Shepherd. A bunch of vignettes about family life and small-town Americana in the mid '40s are tied together around a rather flimsy plot device.
What Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants for Christmas more than anything in the whole world is
a Red Ryder "range model air rifle." There seems to be a conspiracy against him getting one, however. While mother and teacher warn him that he'll only poke his eye out, visions of the Red Ryder dance in his head.
As Ralphie pines for something he has no power to do anything about, his life becomes vividly
alive thanks to numerous well observed details. His younger brother Randy (Jan Petrella), for instance, hasn't eaten willingly in three years and his father (Darren McGavin) leaves a "stream of obscenities over Lake Michigan" as he waits to become a major winner in a crossword contest.
Director Bob Clark ("Porky's") and production designer Reuben F'reed have lovingly recreated the look and feel of an era populated by Little Orphan Annie decoder rings, Ovaltine, and overloaded electrical outlets. Performances by McGavin, Melinda Dillon as the mother and especially the kids, bullies and classmates included, adds to a genuine feeling of family warmth.
With his horn-rimmed glasses and voice-over narration by Shepherd, Ralphie seems more like a
Grown-up than a nine-year-old "A Christmas Story" is an adult's view of childhood kids may find corny - Jagr. ||
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