Most of the photos here at Rabbit Run Cottage
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

This is from a wonderful web site about this house! An American treasure!
The movie A Christmas Story is arguably one of America's favorite holiday films. Over the years, this modest little movie has grown into a Yuletide perennial.The movie "A Christmas Story" might never have been made had it not been for another, decidedly less reputable comedic creature - "Porky's." That's right. One of the most beloved holiday movies largely owes its existence to an infamous, unabashedly crude teen comedy.In the late 1960s, "A Christmas Story" director Bob Clark was driving to a date's house when he happened upon a broadcast of radio personality and writer Jean Shepherd's recollections of growing up in Indiana in the late '30s and early '40s. Clark wound up driving around the block for almost an hour, glued to the radio until the program was over."My date was not happy," Clark said, but he knew right away he wanted to make a movie out of the stories, many of which first appeared in Playboy magazine and were collected in Shepherd’s 1966 book, "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash."Clark's adaptation, however, didn't happen overnight. At the time, he was a journeyman director who specialized in low-budget B movies. For years Clark tried to find a studio to finance the film. But none were interested. Nevertheless, Clark held on to his ambition to bring Shepherd's stories to the screen, and, in 1981, he directed Porky's. Which became a hit at the box office. Suddenly he had some clout the bargain with. In the wake of that hit the studio want a sequel to Porky’s. Clark agreed to make a sequel if the studio agreed to let him do “A Christmas Story” first.The modestly budgeted little comedy opened in 1983 the week before Thanksgiving on fewer than 900 screens. The film took in about $2 million its first weekend and double that Thanksgiving weekend – solid business for the time. The movie was getting strong word-of-mouth support. But, MGM hadn’t counted on the movie receiving much success and did not schedule distribution to more than the opening screens for the lead up to Christmas.Thus A Christmas Story disappeared from theatres. Abruptly elbowed into the theatrical void by the bigger seasonal studio movies of the day, most notably Scarface and Christine. Ultimately, A Christmas Story collected about $19 million at the box office. It was a good showing, but not great.At the same time, however, home video and cable television were just beginning to grow in popularity, and A Christmas Story crept into the mainstream through videotape and cable broadcasts. The rights to the movie were sold in 1986 to Warner Bros. by MGM as part of a 50-movie package deal. In fact, MGM practically gave the movie way when it tossed A Christmas Story into the deal in order to simply meet the 50-movie quota agreed to. The cable network TNT first aired its 12 showing, 24-hour marathon as a stunt in 1988, but popular demand turned stunt into tradition. The annual marathon (now aired on TBS) starts every Christmas Eve and attracts more that 40 million people who tune in at some point to watch. A Christmas Story is now one of the most popular holiday movies of all time earning a place along side “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”
Just some trivia: Jean Shepherd's book "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash", which “A Christmas Story” is based on, is a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories that Shepherd wrote for "Playboy" magazine during the 1960s. The character Scut Farkus, played by Zack Ward, was created specifically for the movie, and never appears in the book. In the book, Grover Dill is the only bully who torments Ralphie. The setting for the movie was based on Hammond, Indiana the home town of author Jean Sheperd. Sheperd grew up on Cleveland St and went to Warren G. Harding Elementary School. Just like Ralphie. The movie was actually filmed in Cleveland, Ohio and Toronto, Ontario. The house from the movie is located just outside of downtown Cleveland and the Higbee building still stands in downtown Cleveland. The Christmas tree shopping scene and many of the inside shots of the house, were filmed in Toronto, Ontario. One of Toronto's trademark red trolleys can be seen driving by the shot of the outside of the tree lot. Ralphie's school exteriors were filmed at Victoria School in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. To find an American city resembling an Indiana town of the 1940s, director Clark sent his location scouts to twenty cities before selecting Cleveland, Ohio, as the site for filming. In addition to providing the voice-over narration, writer Jean Shepherd had a cameo appearance in the movie as a grouchy department store customer who tells Ralphie to go to the back of the Santa line. Director Bob Clark has a brief cameo appearance as Swede, the Parker family's the dim-witted neighbor with a southern-accent who stops to marvel at the leg lamp from across the street. The role of Mr. Parker, Ralphie's father, was originally offered to Jack Nicholson, who reportedly was interested in playing the part. Director Clark, however, lobbied hard for Darren McGavin. The producers, worried about Nicholson's typically large salary requests, eventually approved McGavin. Yano Anaya, who played Grover Dill (the toadie), appeared in only two other films but is probably best known as the evil paperboy with the war cry, "Two dollars!" in the 1985 John Cusack comedy, "Better off Dead." The Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle with a compass and a sundial on the stock had to be created specially for the film, because it never actually existed.
The St. Catharine's Museum owns the original Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action BB Gun and box used in the film, two pairs of Ralphie's glasses including the pair that was smashed, and two scripts.
For the scene in which Flick's tongue sticks to the flagpole, a hidden suction tube was used to safely create the illusion that his tongue had frozen to the metal.
The "major award" was based on a real lamp: an illuminated Nehi logo.
The Radio Orphan Annie decoder pin that Ralphie receives is the 1940
"Speedomatic" model, indicating that the movie takes place in December, 1940. Different decoder badges were made each year from 1935-1940. By 1941, the decoders were made of paper due to World War II metal shortages.
Some of the "snow" used during the scenes between the kids and the bullies was actually soap flakes. The stars later remarked that they were slipping and sliding during the filming of the scenes.
An elaborate fantasy sequence - in which Ralphie joins Flash Gordon to fight Ming the Merciless - was filmed but dropped from the final cut.
The film was released just before Thanksgiving and became a surprise hit. By the time Christmas rolled around, the movie had already been pulled from most theaters because it had been "played out". After complaints were lodged at the theater owners and the studio, the film played on select screens until after the first of the year 1984.
“A Christmas Story” Inspired the creation of “The Wonder Year” television show. Prior to "A Christmas Story," Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie, gained fame as a correspondent for the variety show "Real People." He also played Messy Marvin in Hershey's Chocolate Syrup commercials. Though he now concentrates on producing movies, he did take an uncredited role in the Will Ferrell movie "Elf," as an assembly line supervisor in Santa's workshop.
The Sequel – My Summer Story My Summer Story (1994) is the little know sequel to A Christmas Story. My Summer Story originally titled It Runs in the Family is another collaboration of director Bob Clark and author Jean Sheperd. While the film once again features narration by author Jean Shepherd, the cast is entirely different. The only returning cast member is Ralphie's teacher Miss Shield (Tedde Moore). The story takes place soon after the events of A Christmas Story, still revolving around the lives of the Parker family. But summer has arrived, and with school out for vacation, fourth-grader Ralphie (Kieran Culkin) is ready to experience another life-changing season. Throughout the summer, Ralphie prepares himself rigorously to do battle with the class bully, Scut Farkus in a game of tops. Meanwhile, the Old Man (Charles Grodin) declares war on the family's hillbilly neighbors and introduces Ralphie to fishing, Mom (Mary Steenburgen) falls victim to a theatre manager's con, and little brother Randy (Christian Culkin) continues his annoying ways. As with most sequels this one is a far cry from the original brilliance of A Christmas Story. The film has received little praise or notoriety. Jean Shepherd himself admitted - "That one was a real turkey.” A third, made for television movie about the Parker family is called "Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss.”
Okay, let's get down to brass tacks, well, so to speak.
We are HUGE fans of "A Christmas Story" (and Jean Shepherd's work) around here. Bill and I actually saw this gem in a theater a LONG while back! Now, it is a staple on television every December. Most folks I know can quote much of this film verbatim. I guess watching it 24 hours straight on TBS/TNT each Christmas can do that huh?
The "Parker's" house is officially open!
So, what do you think? Should we make a run up North and see this? Yeah! We hope to do just that, weather permitting, when Bill returns to the bosom of his loving family in 2 1/2 weeks. Even old Dan thinks it a whopper of an idea and he is tough sell.
Yippee!
A Christmas Story House and Museum is open year-round.
The days and hours of operation are: Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. -5 p.m. Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Special opening arrangements and times can be made for group tours. *Please note they are closed Thanksgiving and Christmas and every Wednesday from Jan. 15 – Oct. 31
*Fan restores 'Christmas Story' house* By JOE MILICIA, Associated Press Writer
Ralphie Parker and Brian Jones know what it's like to want something. For Ralphie, the object of desire was an official Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle. (Go ahead, say it, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid.") For Jones, the gotta-have-it item was Ralphie's house — the one in "A Christmas Story," the quirky film that's found a niche alongside holiday classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street." Jones has restored the three-story, wood-frame house to its appearance in the movie and will open it for tours beginning Saturday. His hope is that it will become a tourist stop alongside the city's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and other destinations. He's unsure whether he'll make enough money to cover his $500,000 investment, but as sure as a kid's tongue will stick to a frozen flag pole, he's committed to the project. "I just want people to come and enjoy it as I have," said Jones, a 30-year-old former Navy lieutenant. "A Christmas Story" wasn't a big hit when released in 1983 but repeat TV airings and, in recent years, a 24-hour run on TBS starting Christmas Eve have made its story of boy's quest to get a BB gun for Christmas as infectious as the bespectacled Ralphie's eager grin. "It just kind of sets the mood. In the Jones household, it's on all day once the marathon comes on," said Jones, who's married with an 8-month-old daughter. Jones first saw the movie in the late 1980s and he and his parents became fans. When the San Diego resident's dream of a becoming a Navy pilot like his father was denied because of his eyesight, his parents sent him a package to lift his spirits. Marked "FRAGILE" on the outside, it contained a leg lamp his parents built to look just like the one received by Ralphie's father, who proudly displayed it in the living room window, boasting, "It's a major award!" Jones' mom noted that he could probably make a business out of selling them. In 2003, he started doing just that. "I tooled together 500 lamps in my 1,000-square-foot condo in San Diego and sold them all in the first year," Jones said. And he's still making and selling them — $129.99 for the 45-inch model, $159.99 for the 53-inch "deluxe full size" leg lamp. When the house from the film was put up for sale on eBay in December 2004, it seemed like destiny to Jones. "I said, `Ooh, I gotta have that.'" The auction price got up to $115,000. Jones, who shares Ralphie's unflinching enthusiasm, less than 20/20 eyesight and ability to speak at a breakneck pace, said he'd pay $150,000 if the owner stopped the bidding. "It was mine. I sent him a deposit and flew out two days after Christmas just to make sure it wasn't a falling-down shack," Jones said. He put in new windows and replaced the 111-year-old house's gray aluminum siding with mustard yellow painted wood and green trim that perfectly matches Ralphie's house. Although only a couple interior shots were filmed there, Jones has recreated the '40s feel of Ralphie's home with a brown-and-white tile kitchen floor, a wide cast-iron sink in the kitchen, a claw-foot bathtub and, of course, a leg lamp in the window. He also bought the house across the street — Ralphie runs past it in the film's opening scene — to serve as a museum and gift shop. Several original items from the film are on display, including the infamous snowsuit ("I can't put my arms down!") worn by Ralphie's brother, Randy. The house is located in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, just a few minutes from downtown where the exterior department store shots were filmed at the former Higbee's. The cooperation of the department store is what brought the filmmakers to Cleveland for the film based on author Jean Shepherd's stories of his upbringing in Hammond, Ind. The house is well known in the neighborhood and neighbors like Marlene Childers have watched the house change owners and go through ups and downs over the years. She's excited about Jones' tribute — even if it means more cars and traffic. "I love that story," she said. Jones knows the feeling. And he says stepping onto Ralphie's old street makes him feel like he's in the movie. Standing in front of the house holding a replica Red Ryder rifle, he discusses his future plans — which could include a nearby bed and breakfast — when, seemingly on a director's cue, a motorist passes, stops his car, rolls down the window and shouts, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!"
I so wish we could have been there for the grand opening!
Wouldn't that have been fun?
NOVEMBER 25, 2006
The Grand Opening of A Christmas Story House, now restored to its movie glory, will take place on Saturday, Nov. 25. Also opening directly across the street from the house is the official A Christmas Story House Museum, which will feature original props and memorabilia from the film, as well as rare behind-the-scenes photos. Actors from “A Christmas Story” who played Randy, Flick, Scut Farkus, Grover Dill and Miss Shields will officiate the opening ceremonies.

5 comments:

Missy's Blog said...

I think it would be lovely to see the Christmas House & Museum! I would love to see pictures!

Valerie said...

i LOVE that movie!Even here in Mostly Smoggy So. Cal., the Husband talks about heading out there...not that it's gonna happen, but it's a funny idea.

"Fra-gee-lie. Huh! Must be Italian."

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the blog...i appreciate it!

Andi said...

A Christmas Story is my very favorite Christmas movie!!! We laugh at the same things all over again every time we watch. And I too love when Darren McGavin says "Fra-gee-lee"!!! Whenever I see a package marked Fragile...I always say it that way to myself...well sometimes I say it out loud!!!

Sue said...

Hi Sue, from one Sue to another! Thanks for visiting my blog tonight. Thought I would return the favor! It is fun meeting new online friends, reading blogs ect.
I loved all your triva and such on "A Christmas Story"! I grew up in the 50's and that movie reminds me soooooo much of my childhood. Especially the visit to Santa. I remember on year having to climb up to Santa in a mountain.. then sliding down to get back to my parents... just like the movie.
The Christmas Tree lot also brought back many memeories, my dad always worked at one of the tree lots in town (I grew up in Seattle) Thanks for sharing so many facts (several I didnt' know) about this wonderful holiday movie. I look forward to seeing it each year, and yes... I watched the 24 hour marathon on TBS..LOL

Susie Q said...

Thank you Sue! We share some of the same memories! I am a child of the 50s too! That film just makes Christmas for me!

And I have it on ALL day Christmas Day too! : )

Welcome!