Any American unfamiliar with “A Christmas Story” is certainly in the minority! Directed by the late Bob Clark and released on Thanksgiving day in 1983, the film relates the tale of Ralphie Parker, a 9 year-old boy living in 1940’s era suburban Indiana who wants nothing more than a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.
2008 is the 25th anniversary of A Christmas Story's theatrical release. Did you know the critics widely panned the film? It was, for lack of better words, a box office dud. But, thanks in great part to the first television airings years ago, it's popularity grew and grew. Today it is considered to be one of the best loved of all holiday movies.
The film takes place in fictional Hohman, Indiana, the setting of writer Jean Shepherd's stories, based on his actual hometown of Hammond, Indiana. For the film adaptation of these stories, director Bob Clark reportedly sent scouts to twenty cities before selecting Cleveland for exterior filming. Cleveland was chosen because of Higbee Department Store. Scouts had been unsuccessful in finding a department store that was willing to be part of the film. Higbee's vice president Bruce Campbell agreed to take on the project on the condition he be allowed to edit the script for cursing. Appropriately, the fictional boyhood home of Ralphie Parker is on Cleveland Street, the name of the actual street where Shepherd grew up. In addition to the house exteriors, Cleveland was the location used for the scenes involving Higbee's department store, despite the fact that there were no Higbee's stores in Shepherd's hometown.
However, Cleveland was only one of several locations used. The school scenes were shot at the Victoria School in
St. Catharine's, Ontario, Canada. The Christmas tree purchasing scene was filmed in Toronto, Ontario, as was the sound stage filming of interior shots of the Parker home. The exterior shots of the house and neighborhood where Ralphie lived were filmed in the Tremont section of Cleveland's West Side. The "...only I didn't say fudge" scene was filmed at the foot of Cherry Street in Toronto. In December 2004, Brian Jones, fan of the film since childhood, bought the house on ebay for $150,000. Jones used revenue from his business, The Red Rider Leg Lamp Company, which manufactures replicas of the "major award" Ralphie's father won in the film, for the down payment. The previous owners had reconfigured the building into a
duplex, installed modern windows, and covered the original wood siding with blue vinyl. Watching the movie frame by frame, Jones drew detailed plans of the interiors and spent $240,000 to gut the structure, restore it to a single-family dwelling, transform it into a near-replica of the movie set, and restore the exterior to its appearance in the film.
Jones then borrowed $129,000 to purchase the house across the street and converted it into a gift shop and museum which contains some of the props from the movie, including Randy's snow suit and the leg lamp (although the lamp is broken in the film, alternates survived). The house and museum opened to the public on November 25, 2006, with original cast members attending the grand opening, and the site drew 4,300 visitors during its first weekend. The house as it looks in 2008
restored to appear just as it did in the film.I spy the Red Ryder all wrapped up for Ralphie! Mmmm....just smell that red cabbage, the meatloaf and those mashed potatoes cooking. There sits Ralphie furiously working at his Little Orphan Annie Decoder!
Is that a bar of Lifebuoy Soap I see?
For the last few years, a convention is held in the Cleveland area and seems to be very well attended with folks having a rousing good time!
Ian Petrella (Randy) and Scotty Schwartz (Flick) checking out the living room of A Christmas Story House
Ian Petrella (Randy) once again hiding under the sink in A Christmas Story House
A bully and his toadie. Zack Ward (Scut Farkus) and Yano Anaya (Gover Dill)
Ian Petrella (Randy) and Jim Morelavitz (Freight Man) reunite after 23 years. Jim took care of Ian on set during the filming and delivered the crate that held the leg lamp during the movie.
Patty Lafontaine and Drew Hocevar (The Evil Elves at Higbee's) at the Renaissance Hotel meet and greet.
Scotty Schwartz (Flick) and Tedde Morre (Miss Shield) inside the front door of the house.The former cast mates (with Yano's young son) stand inside the Parker's living room. Ah yes...the infamous window and leg lamp! For more information on the house, tours, gift shop and future conventions:
“It is unbelievable that this little movie has touched the lives of millions of families," Phil Gillen, son of late actor Jeff Gillen who played the film’s irritable
old Santa Claus recently
told a reporter. And so it touched mine.
Love and Hugs,