Yes, you’ve probably seen A Christmas Story 500 times by now — it’s kind of hard not to when TNT puts it on a 24 hour loop every year. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things about Ralphie’s quest for a Red Ryder carbine-action two-hundred shot range model air rifle BB gun that you may not know.
Prepare to have your mind blown — or at least somewhat stimulated — as we roll back the curtain and reveal how A Christmas Story has connections to retro soda ads, Scarface, and the adult film industry.
1. The house from the film is located at 3159 W 11th Street in Cleveland, Ohio. The home was bought on eBay in 2005 for $150,000 by superfan of the movie, Brian Jones. Jones spent $350,000 more to restore both the exterior and interior of the house to the way it originally looked in the movie. In 2006, the house was opened to the public as a museum and gift shop.
2. Ralphie’s ramblings were scripted word for word. Ralphie’s angry curses while unleashing his revenge beating on Scott Farkas, may sound improvised, but were actually written word for word in the script.
3. The film is set in 1940s Indiana, but filming took place in Ohio. Film scouts were sent out to more than 20 cities to find one that resembled a small Indiana town in the 1940s. Rather than actually shoot in small town Indiana, producers went one state over and picked Cleveland, Ohio. As you might imagine, the movie is still a pretty big deal in Cleveland.
4. Jack Nicholson was almost Ralphie’s dad. Jack Nicholson was interested in playing the role of Ralphie’s grumpy father after reading the script, but the studio didn’t want to pony up the cash. Director Bob Clark wasn’t initially notified of Nicholson’s interest because the studio didn’t want to pay Nicholson’s hefty fee, which would have doubled the film’s budget.
5. Ralphie mentions that he wants a Red Ryder BB gun 28 times in the movie.
The kid makes it crystal clear that firearms are the only thing on his wishlist.
6. A Christmas Story was the second holiday movie directed by Bob Clark. Bob’s previous work in the holiday genre was a bit on the darker side with 1974’s holiday horror classic, Black Christmas.
7. Flick’s tongue wasn’t actually frozen to that flagpole. A hidden suction tube was used to safely create the illusion that Flick’s tongue was stuck to the icy pole.
8. The famous lamp scene took months to shoot. The film was shot in both Canada and Ohio, with different parts of the lamp scene actually shot in both locations. The part with the Old Man running out to the street to get a look at the lamp was shot in the exterior Ohio location, while the un-boxing was shot in Toronto.
9. The department store kid with the goggles wasn’t an actor, just a weird kid. On the DVD commentary, Peter Billingsly notes that Bob Clark saw the kid and thought he’d be a good addition to the scene. “He was weird and we used him just as he was.”
10. There would have been no Christmas Story without Porky’s. The success of Porky’s allowed director, Bob Clark, to make A Christmas Story. The studio didn’t have much interest in the film and therefore gave Clark the freedom to do the film exactly as he wanted.
11. Car enthusiasts in Cleveland allowed the production team to use of their antique vehicles to enhance the film’s authenticity. Members of the antique auto club were given a specific route to follow and told to continue circling until told otherwise. Many of the automobile owners were concerned about damage from the salted streets and the production company paid to have the cars washed after each day’s filming.
12. The film is stuck in a time warp. There’s been a lot of debate about whether the movie takes place in 1939, 1940, or 1941 for several different reasons. It could be in 1941 because of the reference made by Mrs. Parker to Mr. Parker about an upcoming game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. The two teams met in a playoff game on December 14, 1941, it was their only playoff game against each other until January 23, 2011. The only previous time the two teams met during a regular season game in December was December 10, 1933.
Others claim it takes place in 1940 because of Ralphie’s Orphan Annie radio decoder pin which was the 1940 “Speedomatic” model. If you go by the wall calendar hanging in the kitchen the movie takes place in 1939. The calendar shows December 1st falling on a Friday. The first of December fell on a Friday in 1939, not 1940. The logical explanation of course, is that Ralphie’s decoder pin actually allows him to time travel.
13. Flick went on to do adult films. While Ralphie and and his classmates probably went off to college or trade school after high school graduation, Flick embarked on a career in porno movies. As an adult, actor Scott Schwartz starred in several adult films with titles like, The Wrong Snatch and New Wave Hookers 5, before leaving the biz in 2000.
14. Director Bob Clark makes a cameo in the film. Clark appears as the dimwitted neighbor, Swede, who admires the glowing “neon sex” in the window from the sidewalk. The film’s screenwriter, Jean Shepherd, also makes a cameo as the angry man at the department store who tells Ralphie and Randy to get to the back of the line.
15. The leg lamp that the Old Man loves so much was inspired by a soda ad. Like so many good movies, the film was based on a book — two actually — In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters. The author of the books, Jean Shepard, saw an advertisement for Nehi orange soda featuring a woman’s legs and used it as an inspiration for creating the “major award.”
Three leg lamps were made for the movie and all three were broken during filming.
16. Director Bob Clark had firsthand experience with sucking on a bar of Lifebuoy soap. Director Bob Clark noted that he had a familiarity with the soap and it was the worst tasting of all soaps. The production team was able to acquire many authentic props from the 1930s for the film, but were unable to get their hands on a bar of Lifebuoy soap. A wax substitute was used instead.
17. Several other Ralphie fantasy sequences were filmed and later cut from the movie. The movie’s got some great fantasy sequences, the Lone Ranger one being a personal favorite, but several others were filmed and never saw the light of day. One such sequence included Ralphie teaming up with Flash Gordon to battle an alien.
18. The movie may be the epitome of Norman Rockwell American nostalgia, but parts were also filmed in Canada. While much of the film was shot in Ohio, filming also took place in Toronto and Ontario. The Christmas tree shopping scene was shot in Toronto and includes one of the city’s red trolleys passing by in the background. The exterior shots of Ralphie’s school were shot at Victoria School in St. Catharine’s of Ontario.
19. The 24-hour marathon began over two decades ago. The 24-hour Christmas Day marathon of A Christmas Story is beloved by many, and probably dreaded by double that amount. A person can only click through the channels and see Randy so many times before wanting to punch Ted Turner. TNT rolled out the first marathon in 1988 as a stunt and it became a recurring holiday tradition in 1997.
20. The movie got bumped out of theaters by Tony Montana. The film opened the weekend before Thanksgiving to moderate success, only earning around $2 million over weekend. By the time Christmas actually rolled around, the movie had been pushed out of most theaters to make room for movies like Scarface and Christine.