Essential Christmas: The 10 Best Holiday Specials and Movies

8. A Christmas Story

Some of our Christmas television classics originated on the big screen. One started out as a sleeper in theaters and grew in popularity with repeated small-screen airings. It became so popular that one family of cable networks has run 24-hour marathons of the film every Christmas Eve for the last 14 years. Of course I’m talking about 1983’s A Christmas Story.

A Christmas Story is based on the semi-autobiographical works of humorist and storyteller Jean Shepherd. The film is a loving look at boyhood Christmas memories from the 1940s. All Ralphie Parker wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB Gun. Every adult to whom he mentions his Christmas wish -- from his parents to his teacher to the department store Santa -- gives him the same response: “You’ll shoot your eye out!” The movie continues with a series of episodes and subplots, ending on Christmas day when Ralphie receives his prized gift.

The film is full of hilarious and iconic scenes.

In its initial release, A Christmas Story earned mixed reviews and decent box office. It was after its first broadcast on HBO and subsequent basic cable airings that the film graduated from cult status to full-fledged holiday tradition. In 1997, TNT aired its first 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon. The tradition moved to sister network TBS in 2004. The Turner networks have shown A Christmas Story over 250 times. Not bad for a little $2 million movie.

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