A Christmas Story
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This delightfully funny holiday gem tells the story of Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsly) a 1940's nine-year-old who pulls out all the stops to obtain the ultimate Christmas present.
The kids take center stage for this 20th Anniversary edition DVD. For the commentary track, Peter Billingsley and director Bob Clark chummily reminisce on the making of the film, which seems to have been as delightful as the film itself. Because it was such a small film, Clark relates how they were left alone to do whatever they wanted, as long as fuddy-duddy author Jean Shepherd wasn't on the set. The new documentary features Billingsley and the three other former child actors' recollections about the shoot. The kids even help out with two trivia tests, but why is there nary a peep about or from co-stars Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin? Two 30-minute radio segments of Shepherd's reading his original stories is a nice touch for this double DVD set, as is a featurette about the real Red Ryder guns. Best yet, the film has never looked better, finally available in widescreen (along with pan and scan). --Doug Thomas
- All-new transfer
- Original radio readings by author Jean Shepherd
- New documentary Another Christmas Story
- "Get a Leg Up" and "A History of The Daisy Red Ryder" featurettes
- Interactive trivia
- Decoder match challenge
- Easter eggs
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I was somewhat surprised that the story was set in the forties. I had always that it was in the fifties when I was in my preteens. On looking closer, I see that it could have just as easily been the thirties, forties, fifties, or even the early sixties. The movie is really set at a time outside of history called "childhood". The true wonder of this movie is how vividly it brings back memories of early youth, no matter when you were born.
Give full credit to Jean Shepherd. The measure of the success of this movie is the faithfulness in which it brings his characters and stories to life. His narrative in voice over is one of the highlights of the film. The wonderful combination of sentiment and satire sparkles through the show like bubbles in a glass of ginger ale. Not too sweet and just sharp enough.
Enough said about the movie itself. It's a classic and you need it in your collection. You owe it to your family.
This version, the twentieth anniversary, double disc special edition is exceptionally good. After viewing the movie, go back and view it with the commentary by Bob Clarke and Peter Billingsley. That alone is worth the price of the set. But, that's not all. There's also a whole extra special feature disk with goodies for the whole family. There's the true story of the the Daisy Red Rider BB gun, a featurette showing the making of the movie and.. Wonder of Wonders... a trip to the Factory that makes the Glorious LAMP. There are also some nice interactive games for the kids, but the biggest treat on the second disk is the audio readings by Jean Shepherd of two of the stories from which the movies were made. I don't care if you did just see the movie. He will hold you spellbound in front of the image of an old radio. He is that good!
I wish that I had more stars to give this set. It is AWESOME!
That I didn't go postal at losing an hour and a half shows how much I love "A Christmas Story." This 1983 classic is not just a heartwarming little story about a loving (if bickery) family in the rather dour America of the late 1940s, but a hysterical comedy about what it's like to be a kid at Christmas.
Ralphie Parker's (Peter Billingsley) Christmas wishes are simple: a official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass and a "thing that tells time." But his mom says he'll shoot his eye out. So Ralphie begins a quiet crusade to get it as a present -- he writes an essay on it and even asks Santa, only to get the same terrible reply: "You'll shoot your eye out."
As the days tick down to Christmas -- with no sign of an air rifle -- Ralphie hits other obstacles when he clashes with bullies, says "the mother of all dirty words," and watches his parents battle it out over a tacky "major award" (leg lamp). But there are surprises in store for the Parker family on Christmas morning -- and some of them involve smelly bloodhounds.
Yes, the plot is pretty simple -- it's the delivery that makes it special. Narrated by an adult Ralphie who offers his slightly sardonic take on everything ("We plunged into the cornucopia quivering with desire and the ecstasy of unbridled avarice"), it's completely tuned in to how kids think, and how a toy can seem like the most important thing in the world.
Fortunately the scriptwriters never condescend to the audience by adding some kind of syrupy message -- after all, real life doesn't work that way. Instead there are all sorts of classic moments -- the leg lamp, Chinese turkey, the terrifying visit to Santa ("HOOOO HOOOO HOOO!"), and Ralphie's fantasies of defending his family with "Ol' Blue."
But Jean Shepherd deserves especial credit for bringing this movie to life, with a constant snowstorm of one-liners and hilarious dialogue: "Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap." "He looks like a pink nightmare!" "Oh FUUUDDDDGGGE!" and others.
Billingsley is a little stiff as Ralphie, but gives the portrayal of this everykid his charming, slightly frenetic best. Melinda Dillon and Darin McGavin are the comic geniuses here, with their slightly kooky but loving parents (one of the highlights is Dillon's "show me how the piggies eat!" scene), and there's an array of very convincing bullies and classmates too.
"A Christmas Story" didn't get much notice when it came out in 1983. But now it's one of the quintessential holiday movies, and a must-see at Christmastime.
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The film begins in winter, children await Christmas. The cars suggest the 1930s. Kids view a department store window.Read more