Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Christmas Story

Mr. Parker: It’s a beautiful duck. It really is. But you see…
Waiter: What?
Mr. Parker: It’s smiling at me.
Waiter: Ah. (laughing, he picks up a meat cleaver and chops off the duck’s head) Okay? Beautiful.
Mr. Parker: Yes. (clapping)
Narrator: That Christmas would live in our memories as the Christmas when we were introduced to Chinese turkey.


Narrator: Every family has a kid who won’t eat. My kid brother had not eaten voluntarily in over three years.
Mrs. Parker: Oh, Randy, don't play with your food. Eat it!
Randy: Aw, gee.
Mrs. Parker: Starving people would be happy to have that….
Mr. Parker: You stop playing with your food, or I’ll give you something to cry about. You better stop fooling around with that and eat it, or you’ll be sorry….
Randy: Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beetloaf. I hate meatloaf.

Mr. Parker: All right. All right, I'll get that kid to eat. Where's my screw driver and my plumber's helper? I'll open up his mouth and I'll shove it in.


Though replete with anachronisms, A Christmas Story, the tale of nine-year-old Ralphie Parker’s (Billingsley) quest for the gift of a Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range-model air rifle, has become a modern classic, akin to It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. Based on the stories of Jean Shepherd, the film depicts the challenges and joys common to many a boy growing up in northern Indiana in 1939 or 1940. As well, the movie includes two simple but hearty Midwestern meals. For breakfast, Mrs. Parker (Dillon) serves scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and jam, oatmeal, milk, and orange juice. For dinner, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, pickles, red cabbage, and bread. But the most memorable meal occurs after the neighbor’s dogs abscond with the Christmas turkey, and Mr. Parker (McGavin) takes the family to the Chop Suey Palace for a dinner of Chinese “turkey” (Peking duck).

Released 1983
Directed by Bob Clark
Written by Jean Shepherd (book and screenplay)
Starring Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker, Melinda Dillon as Mrs. Parker, Darren McGavin as Mr. Parker, Ian Petrella as Randy Parker, Scott Schwartz as Flick, R.D. Robb as Schwartz, Tedde Moore as Miss Shields, Yano Anaya as Grover Dill, and Zack Ward as Scut Farkus
Awards: 1984 Genie Awards for Best Achievement in Direction and Best Screenplay

Fun Fact:
Jean Shepherd and his wife, Leigh Brown, make cameos as parents waiting in line with their children to see Santa Claus at the department store in town.