How ‘A Christmas Story’ Went From Low-Budget Film To Holiday Mainstay

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that the current generation gravitates to films like A Christmas Story and Love Actually rather than the more traditional It’s A Wonderful Life or Miracle On 34th Street. Older Christmas films tend to have a clear moral and a resolution for all, while the more modern holiday movies show life as messy and imperfect, which is a lot more like the way most of our holidays pan out.

Approaching Christmas, some channels play A Christmas Story on loop, so you have at least 12 chances to catch the movie in full. While Love Actually appeals to an older audiences, it too shows life, love, and the holidays as being chaotic, rather than in older movies where even when all was going south, everyone was perfectly dressed, and it seemed likely that all would be right with the world by the end, says the Inquisitr.

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But the creators of A Christmas Story never saw the movie becoming a cult favorite, and certainly not a mainstay of the holiday season, says Vanity Fair. The movie, which came out in 1983, is the story of Ralphie Parker and his desire to have what he considers the perfect, but forbidden, Christmas gift: an “official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.”


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And rather than sickeningly sweet children with not one hair out of place, we got something a bit closer to reality, which was a season where so many of the deadly sins come out to play, for example, greed. It was a glimpse at the middle class, and what Christmas often looks like with parents and children who are perfectly imperfect.

Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie, decided to move to the other side of film-making as he got older and took a screenwriting course from a man named Robert Mckee, known for his gruff demeanor. Billingsley recounted what McKee told the class on the first day.

“Don’t tell me you’re going to create a new genre for your movie. Everyone’s always saying there’s a new genre. There is no new genre. There are comedies, dramas, and tragedy. There’s only one movie that I can argue has been a new genre in the modern era, and that movie’s a little movie—I don’t know if you guys have heard of it—called A Christmas Story.”

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A Christmas Story had a decent run in the theater, but over the years, it really found its home on cable television. The movie’s director, Bob Clark, explained that it really hit him when he was in a small restaurant in New Hampshire, when he heard people at another table reciting dialogue from A Christmas Story. The restaurant’s host explained that it’s a tradition for this family to come each year and recite lines from the movie.

“That’s when it began to sink in. This low-budget fluke of a movie” had become a quintessential Christmas tradition.

A Christmas Story has such a following that each year, the A Christmas Story House Foundation holds a fundraiser, where the winner gets to spend two days and two nights in the actual house in Cleveland, says NBC. The winner also walks away with $800 in gifts, including a leg lamp and a Red Ryder BB gun.

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Do you watch A Christmas Story every year? What is your favorite scene?

[Featured Image by YouTube]