Guest Author - Amber Grey
It is a scant twenty-four years old compared to other classics but “A Christmas Story” (1983) is no doubt a classic holiday comedy. Just as fun as it is to watch, there is some fun trivia about which many may not know.
Based on Jean Sheppard’s book, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” the film is set in Hammond, Indiana. Filming never took place there. Thanks to Hollywood magic, the filming took place in two other locations – Cleveland, Ohio and Canada.
A debate among fans has sprung over the exact filming location for the schoolyard scenes. It is best determined that those scenes were shot in Canada at Victoria School in Ontario. Since there was no flagpole at the schoolyard, an artificial one was constructed. There was a small hole on the pole, and inside the pole contained a suction tube. The suction help create the famous scene where Flick sticks his tongue to the pole because of a "triple dog dare."
In Cleveland, Ohio, citizens contributed to props such as their own vintage vehicles to support the production. Jean Sheppard, the book’s writer as well as film’s narrator, has a cameo appearance in the film with his real wife Leigh Brown. He is the surly shopper who tells Ralphie and Randy to head to the back of the Santa line in Higbee’s Department Store.
Ralphie’s family home is a fully-functional residential house, and the exterior scenes were shot on location. Director Bob Clark makes a cameo appearance as one of the neighbors who is curious about the leg lamp, or as Ralphie’s dad boasts, the “Major Award.” Most interior shots were filmed in a studio except for the sequence in the kitchen where Ralphie saves the family with his beloved Red Ryder BB Gun. Recently, the house was vacant and put on eBay for sale. Brian Jones won the house for the price of $150,000. He renovated the inside to make it look exactly as it did in the film and opened it to the public as a tribute where fans from all over can visit and walk through.
As a testament to its popularity, “A Christmas Story” has become an annual holiday tradition for some television stations to air it for a full 24 hours beginning Christmas Eve.
This article is dedicated to the memory of the film’s director, the late Bob Clark, and his son.