Pat Wahler, Author

Penning stories to savor.

On My Wish List

There are certain stories that appeal to me so much I can read (or watch) them over and over again. Many have a Christmas theme, as I’m the type of person who totally agrees with Andy Williams. It is the most wonderful time of the year.

The movie, A Christmas Story, ranks high on my list. Set in the early 1940’s, the story features a typical family in the weeks before Christmas. There’s a curmudgeonly but lovable dad, a funny and empathetic mom, a young son named Ralphie with an obsessive Christmas wish, and Ralphie’s overdressed younger brother, Randy. The movie was based on a short story collection titled, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. The book was published in 1966, and the stories were drawn from the author, Jean Shepherd’s, own childhood.

Parts of Shepherd’s semi-autobiographical short stories gave birth to the movie.

Yet the film almost never happened. One evening in the late 1960’s, a young director named Bob Clark heard Shepherd narrating some of his stories on a radio show. Clark wanted to make the stories into a movie, but it would take nearly 20 years and a Hollywood-style deal to get the job done.

After Clark directed a highly successful movie called Porky’s, MGM gave him the go-ahead to make A Christmas Story only if he’d commit to doing a Porky’s sequel. Clark agreed. So in 1983, on a tiny budget with next to no marketing funds, he created the film he’d been longing to make. The author, Jean Shepherd, acts as narrator and even has a cameo appearance as a disgruntled shopper in the Santa line at Higbee’s Department Store.

The movie’s limited release earned lukewarm reviews, and quickly became relegated to a shelf. In 1986, MGM sold A Christmas Story, along with a batch of other movies to Warner Brothers for use on cable television.

BOOM! As soon as a vast audience had the opportunity to see A Christmas Story, it was on its way to becoming one of the most popular Christmas movies ever made. People couldn’t get enough of watching the sometimes gentle, sometimes outrageous humor lurking within the relationships of this 1940’s era family. For some, it recalled memories of their own youth. Others looked at it from a “those were the good-old-days” perspective. But most loved it simply because it reminded them of being a kid who believes in the magic of Christmas.

No matter the reason, A Christmas Story soon became a holiday tradition. It typically runs for twenty-four straight hours starting each year on Christmas Eve, and is so beloved, it generated a business, a Broadway musical, and a museum.

Yes, it even has a leg lamp in the window.

To view a plethora of fun facts about the movie, and find gifts galore, check out this link to A Christmas Story House. Purchased by a fan and carefully restored, the house is sure to delight even the most passionate and picky movie-lover. The house is located in Cleveland, Ohio (even though the story takes place in Indiana). Fans can take a tour, view movie memorabilia, and visit the gift shop. They even have movie-themed presents for sale.

Personally, this place is on my list to someday visit. I’m simply dying to know if descendants of the Bumpus hounds still live next door, waiting to plunder and pillage the Old Man’s castle.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy seeing this wonderful film for the first or (like me) the zillionth time. You can bet your snow boots that I’ll be watching it again come Christmas Eve.

And speaking of Christmas, I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Here’s hoping you receive your own heart’s desire on Christmas Day.

Even if it’s a leg lamp.

Perfect for any decor.

 

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16 Comments

  1. Pat–That movie IS a classic. I hope that sometime soon you get to visit the house/museum.

  2. One of my favorites! We watch it every year. I loved your article. I had no idea of the story behind getting this movie made. It is definitely a classic. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Pat!

    • Pat Wahler

      December 13, 2016 at 7:41 am

      Hi Sally!

      It never gets old, does it? If you click on the link you’ll find tons of information on the movie, the house, the cast, and more.

      Have a blessed a beautiful Christmas with your family. Especially adorable little Desmond!

  3. I can’t recall seeing it. I will have to look out for it, it sounds good!
    Lynne x

    • Pat Wahler

      December 13, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Lynne!

      You would definitely enjoy watching this movie. I own it on DVD simply because sometimes I want to watch it at other times of the year. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  4. Merry Christmas Pat. That is an all time favorite of ours and I look forward to watching it every year!

  5. Believe it or not, I’ve only seen it once. But I may have to make that twice after reading your post. 🙂

    • Pat Wahler

      December 14, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Hi Lisa!

      It’s one I never get tired of watching. Love the quirky humor. Yes, you definitely need to see it again.

  6. HA! Katie has been to this house because it is in Cleveland, right? (I hope I’m not confusing it with something else.) Her dad is from Cleveland, and they went last year. Although I know she had no idea what she was touring, everyone else in the party had a roaring good time I hear. This story is also inspirational and also shows that you never know when you might hit the big time! And to follow your dreams. . .(as we discussed the other night!)

    • Pat Wahler

      December 14, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      Hi Margo!

      How cool that Katie got to visit the house. Maybe someday I’ll make to Cleveland.

      So glad we were able to visit the other night. We do need to be brave and follow our dreams. How else can we make them come true?

  7. Hi Pat,

    Thanks for the interesting backstory about a popular Christmas movie. I don’t think I’m the only one, but one of a few who has never seen the entire movie! I know, I know, I need to put that on my to do list! Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    • Pat Wahler

      December 17, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Hi Mary!

      Yes, you definitely need to watch the whole thing. There is so much subtle humor via the narrator, I think you’d really enjoy it.

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family, too!

  8. I didn’t know it was originally in print. I have a friend who refuses to spend Christmas with us because we play the movie over and over again!
    Ann

    • Pat Wahler

      December 19, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      Hi Ann!

      How could anyone object to seeing this movie over and over? Clearly, your friend needs to reorganize his/her priorities.

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