How many times will you watch “A Christmas Story” this year?
The 1983 film quickly became a holiday staple despite netting a modest $20 million during its theatrical run. It’s now one of the rare modern movies we watch each December (along with “Elf,” “Love Actually” and, for some, “Bad Santa”).
Only one movie, though, is repeated around the clock on Christmas Day courtesy of Turner Networks… and that’s “A Christmas Story.”
The following four scenes help explain it. No movie is a classic based on individual moments. It’s the collective story that tugs at our hearts. Yet these sequences capture what makes this “Story” so special.
“Oh … Fudge”
Only Ralphie didn’t say “fudge.” His outburst earned him a bar of soap in his mouth. Modern parents rarely resort to that punishment these days. It doesn’t matter.
The comic sequence captures what it means to be a kid. Lil’ Ralphie wanted to help The Old Man change a tire, and when he fumbled the task he couldn’t hold back.
Seeing Ralphie’s tears brings back memories of our childhoods, times when we did the wrong thing and our parents laid down the law. It’s discipline with love, and deep down Ralphie understands. So do we.
“Ho, ho … HO!”
It’s the big moment. Ralphie finally has a seat on Santa’s lap, and he can tell ol’ Saint Nick about the Red Ryder BB Gun he’s obsessed over. So what does dear, loving Santa say?
“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid” — and he shoves him down the Christmas shoot with his big black boot.
It’s one of the best comic payoffs of any Christmas film, a perfectly choreographed moment from director Bob Clark of “Porky’s” fame. Yes, look it up.
Take That, Scut Farkus
Who doesn’t like seeing a school bully get his comeuppance? In “A Christmas Story,” meek little Ralphie does the honors, getting his revenge on evil Scut Farkus (Zack Ward). That alone makes the moment special.
The film doesn’t stop there.
Once Ralphie has blooded the bully’s nose his mother (Melinda Dillon) swoops him away from the brawl. Is Ralphie exuberant? Giddy even? No. He’s crying, emotionally exhausted by the process. A lesser movie might have Ralphie walk away, triumphant. That’s not how life works, which makes the fight even better.
“I Can’t Put My Arms Down!”
It’s the film’s most memorable site gag. Ralphie’s brother Randy (Ian Petrella) is so swaddled in winter coats that he can’t put his arms down to his sides.
Simple. Funny. And yet it says something about motherhood and the steps parents take to protect their young ones. “A Christmas Story” teems with these tiny observations. Credit the creative team as well as author Jean Shepherd. His novel, “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash,” helped shape the narrative.