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A Christmas Story (1983) -- Looking at It as a Film

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A Christmas Story (1983) -- Looking at It as a Film

Old 12-18-20, 06:45 PM
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A Christmas Story (1983) -- Looking at It as a Film

YES, YES, YES. I KNOW the movie has been run into the ground by TBS and by heavy merchandising. I get it. But during this holiday, I would like to discuss ACS as a film unto itself.

This is the first movie I ever recorded off television in the 80s when I was a kid. I watched it over and over. I (and many others) know the whole film by heart (and every shot and every story beat and inflection of dialogue). I personally think it holds up quite well and has a richly deserved place in Roger Ebert's Great Movies reviews. What could have been a generic Christmas comedy turned out to be something really special. The humor is nuanced and marbled quite well with a warm, well observed humanity.

This scene I think sums up it's greatness. Sure the part where Ralphie beats up Skut Farkus is one of the most beloved scenes, but what would have been a simple slapstick moment turns into so much more when his mom stops him and Ralphie breaks down and cries. That final moment is what separates this movie from so many Christmas themed family comedies of today.


The writing, acting, editing, and directing are all superb. I'm sure there will be detractors, but I still hold that ACS is a solid film classic and not just a holiday classic.

Last edited by PatD; 12-18-20 at 06:52 PM.
Old 12-18-20, 06:54 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

I really like the 1940s setting and the nostalgia the movie makes using that Norman Rockwell style.

I absolutely fucking hate Ralphieís daydreams. I get the the movie centers around a little boy whoís mind wanders but those fantasy sequences are nauseating and turn a fun nostalgic movie into something I can barely stomach any more.
Old 12-18-20, 07:02 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

As much as Iíve tried I just donít like this movie. Itís not because of being overplayed in my case. Iíve probably only seen it once or twice. Just not for me I guess.
Old 12-18-20, 07:06 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

People either love or hate this movie. I’m not a fan. All the humor is based on repeatedly humiliating the characters, mostly Ralphie. Just an unpleasant movie overall.

my wife loves this movie. Somehow, we stay together despite this.
Old 12-18-20, 08:15 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

I just rebought it a few days ago on bluray. I had the previous two disc dvd but the movie stopped playing and decided I wanted it back in my collection. I also like the 40s setting and I enjoy the narration. I would say Ralphie is a weird kid who lacked proper social skills. He seemed to make his teacher uncomfortable a few times. I don't feel the burnout from A Christmas Story probably because I never had cable. I think Christmas Vacation would count as my overplayed Christmas movie. I don't watch it every year anymore but more like every 2 or 3 years.
Old 12-18-20, 09:51 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Originally Posted by Mike86 View Post
As much as I’ve tried I just don’t like this movie. It’s not because of being overplayed in my case. I’ve probably only seen it once or twice. Just not for me I guess.
Originally Posted by sherm42 View Post
People either love or hate this movie. I’m not a fan. All the humor is based on repeatedly humiliating the characters, mostly Ralphie. Just an unpleasant movie overall.
Same. I've tried several times too, and I just don't like it either. I can see why people do love it. But it's just not for me either.
Old 12-18-20, 10:05 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Love it!

Maybe I can relate, as I still remember the Christmas from my childhood, opening my (Not Red Ryder, but Daisy) BB gun. I was so happy with it. I actually still have it, some 45+ years later.

We also have hometown pride, as some of the scenes, including the school stuff, were shot in town.

"The Old Man" was awesome, in this. Probably my favourite role for Darren McGavin. Kolchak is a close second.
Old 12-19-20, 12:15 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

This is a movie that I resisted, heavily, when first exposed to it as a teenager. The older I've gotten though, the more I enjoy it. I don't necessarily seek it out (I don't own a copy), but that's only because I've seen it so many times. The OP is right though, it's all about the little details. I particularly like how the dad could have been just a gruff caricature, but it's clear that he really loves the kids. The moment with Ralphie and the gun at the end is incredibly sweet. I also laugh my head off every time when he says "not a finger!" There are a few quotes that have lived on for many years in my house like "that's mine", "it's a major award", and "I like the Wizard of Oz". Now that I think about it, it's probably been a few years since I've seen it. I should give it a spin this year.
Old 12-19-20, 12:44 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Looking at it as a film? How else can we see it?

I’ve seen it a few times over the years, and I’ll tell you now I will never like it or love it.
Old 12-19-20, 12:52 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Originally Posted by E Unit View Post
Looking at it as a film? How else can we see it?
As a holiday staple that has been run so far into the ground it has hit the molten core of the planet and inspired disdain from lots of people. It's a shame, because it's a solid movie and one of the best commercial films of the 1980s along with films like The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future and The Princess Bride. (And I'm not backing down from that stance)

Last edited by PatD; 12-19-20 at 01:26 PM.
Old 12-19-20, 01:09 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

I was born in 1978, so was I was six or seven years old the first time I saw the movie. What's odd, is that despite being a nostalgia setting, it felt very contemporary to me. At the time, my family lived in my grandmother's house, which looked exactly like the family home, including the grates and furnace. Beside our house was a vacant lot the rail yard used to store a defunct train car that looked just like the alley where the Skutch fights happen. It's the first movie I can remember that was set in the same world I lived in. Our hometown was pretty dumpy in the early 80s, and before this all I remember is movies like Gremlins or Back To The Future where the families lived in fancy houses full of brand name appliances.

Sorry if that's more personal than about the film itself, which I haven't seen for years but remember being wonderful, fantasy scenes included.
Old 12-19-20, 02:15 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Originally Posted by E Unit View Post
Looking at it as a film? How else can we see it?
Makes me think about how with big Thanksgiving get-togethers cancelled this year, I saw lots of commentary about how this meant people were foregoing turkey, which was fine because (they said) turkey was shitty food anyways.

So it's the idea that a meal can become more about the tradition of having certain foods. and less about the enjoyment of eating those foods because they are well-prepared and taste great
Old 12-19-20, 02:46 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

People who don't like A Christmas Story are sad little people who I don't want to know.
Old 12-19-20, 05:06 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

I've never once watched it beginning to end, but caught it on TBS enough times to have seen the entire thing just in bits and pieces. And with the nature of the story, that's a perfectly acceptable way to view it. That said, my favorite of the vignettes is the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring. He finally decodes the secret message, "Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine". I think that is one of the best spoilings of innocence in film history, that everything is just a commercial.
Old 12-19-20, 11:50 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Not sure how old I was when I first saw it but it was years before the annual TBS marathon. Nearly pissed myself laughing at the bunny costume and will stay in rotation in my house on Christmas day as long as I'm around. To me, it's a Christmas classic, right up there with Die Hard.
Old 12-19-20, 11:53 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

I'm not much of a fan. I understand why it's considered a good movie - I just don't personally connect with it that much. I will say though that I saw the stage show a few years ago and that was really entertaining.
Old 12-20-20, 01:06 AM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

I love the movie and find it infinitely quotable. Not just the iconic lines but even some of the quick throwaways from the Old Man are priceless. Doesn't hurt that Darren McGavin sells the character so perfectly. "You used all the glue on purpose!" is especially loved in our household.

If you can hunt them down, it's worth seeing the PBS films prior to A Christmas Story that were also based on Shepherd's works and center around the Parker family. I think you can find most of YouTube. While I don't think they are as funny as ACS, they have their moments. It's especially interesting to see James Broderick's incredibly different take on Mr. Parker and to see the original filmed version of the leg lamp story (in The Phantom of the Open Hearth). FWIW, those films tend to present Ralphie and Randy a bit older. In fact, I think Matt Dillon played Ralphie in one of the films.
Old 12-20-20, 07:23 AM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Originally Posted by stvn1974 View Post
People who don't like A Christmas Story are sad little people who I don't want to know.
I had no idea Christopher Nolan hated the film.
Old 12-20-20, 11:43 AM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Only one thing in the world could’ve dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.

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Old 12-20-20, 02:37 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Originally Posted by Jaymole View Post
I had no idea Christopher Nolan hated the film.

I was gonna go there but you beat me to it.

I've never actually seen A Christmas Story all the way through, only drips and drabs on Christmas Eves at certain family gatherings and they always seem to want to watch it. So I can't judge it without sitting through it in its entirety once and for all. I haven't managed to force myself to do it yet but I'm enjoying this thread.
Old 12-20-20, 03:58 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Originally Posted by Jaymole View Post
I had no idea Christopher Nolan hated the film.
If Nolan had directed A Christmas Story the music would have drowned out Ralphie saying "Oh Fudge".
Old 12-20-20, 08:13 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Originally Posted by stvn1974 View Post
If Nolan had directed A Christmas Story the music would have drowned out Ralphie saying "Oh Fudge".
Only he didn't say fudge... He said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word!
Old 12-20-20, 08:21 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

One of the rare Blu-rays I have played twice. I like the 1940's setting and nostalgia as mentioned which separates it from other more modern Xmas movies.

It still holds up but I don't watch it every year since I don't want to get tired of it.

I think it is funnier and more entertaining than Its A Wonderful Life which I am halfway through and don't see the big deal about that movie.

I did not know there was a sequel to this but I guess I know why since it probably sucked



Old 12-20-20, 10:06 PM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

^ I watched that years ago on cable. Itís not terrible but doesnít have any of the charm of A Christmas Story. The fact that it takes place in the summer doesnít help much with the connection to the first movie. I remember very little about it except that a large part of the story revolves around the kids competing with each other with spinning tops.
Old 12-22-20, 11:56 AM
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Re: A Christmas Story (1983)-- Looking at It as a Film

Originally Posted by Paff View Post
I've never once watched it beginning to end, but caught it on TBS enough times to have seen the entire thing just in bits and pieces. And with the nature of the story, that's a perfectly acceptable way to view it. That said, my favorite of the vignettes is the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring.
Yeah, one of the reasons I think this works so well as a TBS marathon is because it's really a series of vignettes that people can jump into and out of watching at any time. You don't have to watch it from the very beginning to the end. At any point during the day you have a free moment, you can turn it on, or walk past the TV that already has it on, watch it for 3-5 minutes, and have seen a satisfying little story. Then you can leave and go back to cooking, cleaning, dealing with relatives, etc.

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