Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Story

Shot on a shoestring budget in Cleveland, Ohio and various Ontario, Canada locations, Bob Clark's unanticipated "A Christmas Story" has become a staple of the holiday season. From the short stories featured in Jean Shepherd's In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, the film tells the story of young Ralphie and his misadventures in 1940s Hohman, Indiana as he wishes nothing more than to receive a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. With Shepherd himself providing irreplaceable narration, the film provides us with a jumble of unforgettable vignettes such as Ralphie decoding a secret radio program message, his exuberant father receiving an erotic monstrosity as a sweepstakes prize, and an infamous dare resulting in the fire department being called in to remove his best friend's tongue from an icy flag pole. The film is perfectly cast with little known actors proving warm and memorable performances. Melinda Dillon is a delight playing the angelic mother and Darren McGavin does his best Jack Lemmon as his father. Peter Billingsley is ideally cast as the wide eyed Ralphie and Ian Petrella steals the show as his younger brother Randy. "A Christmas Story" is not only a great film because of how acutely funny it is, but also because of how it captures the nostalgic childhood scenarios.