11 Shocking, Disturbing Facts About “A Christmas Story” You Won’t Believe
Raphie's yearning for an Official Red Ryder Carbine Action, 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle in the 1983 "A Christmas Story" is one of our favorite holiday traditions. The real story behind the film, however, is not so family-friendly! The following 11 facts will surprise you and -- be warned -- you may never view the film the same way again!
The film was extremely low budget and a lot of corners were cut with health and safety. When it came time for Ralphie to fight Black Bart, a cameraman grabbed real tobacco chew and stuck a few leaves in Peter Billingsley's mouth (he was 12). He said he got dizzy, flushed and his lips burned. Afterwards he threw up. Click here to watch the adult Billingsley tell the story: http://youtu.be/hbu7q_4U8DU.
The Santa and scary elves were all REAL PEOPLE recruited from the local community -- not actors. The kid in the flight goggles annoying Ralphie in line to meet Santa? He was just a kid in the department store! Director Bob Clark and Billingsley both thought the kid was a weirdo so they invited him to be in the film!
"A Christmas Story" was based on the Jean Shepherd story In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash originally published as a series in Hugh Hefner's "Playboy" magazine.
Director Bob Clark first heard the story in 1968 on his car radio while on a date. They got to their destination, but Jean Shepherd wasn't done reading the story, so Clark circled the block to keep listening despite protests from his date.
Bob Clark directed the critically-panned but financially successful "Porky's" about high school boys trying to see naked girls. The movie trailer promises to show you naked shower scenes and graphic strip club dancing. After making studio a lot of money he was allowed to direct anything he wanted and he chose "A Christmas Story."
Corners were cut to save money and a real incendiary device was inserted into the actor's back pocket for the spark effect.
Countless boys and girls have liked freezing flag poles after seeing "A Christmas Story" and as many of them learned (and "Mythbusters" proved), your tongue will really stick.
The director added a few scenes not in Jean Shepherd's story, including a fantasy space scene where Ralphie helps Flash Gordon.
Clark did not tell the actors the Asian men in the Chinese restaurant would sing mispronounced Christmas carols. The actors' reaction (including the mother giggling uncontrollably) to the racist, politically-incorrect, stereotyped singing was genuine.
In the famous scene where Peter Billingsley's "Ralphie" says, "FUUUUUUDGE" while helping The Old Man change the car tire, Ralphie was told to say the actual "F" word. Scandalous as that is, he was 12 (practically a teenager).
Despite making good profits during the Thanksgiving weekend, theater owners decided the movie was "played out" by mid-December and pulled the film just before the peak of holiday theater-going. After protesting the stupid decision, select theaters played it again in January, but the movie didn't make the money it deserved until the VHS release years later.