The Griswold post seemed to be a big hit, so we'll continue the "obscure facts about my favorite Christmas movies" series with A Christmas Story. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I don't own this one on DVD; but I guess I don't need to when TBS runs it for 24 hours straight on Christmas Eve. Here's a few tidbits to tide you over until you can catch Monday's marathon.
1. Jack Nicholson was very interested in playing Ralphie's dad. But casting (and paying) Jack would have meant doubling the budget, so he was removed from consideration. Director Bob Clark "“ who didn't know Nicholson was interested at the time "“ says Darrin McGavin was the perfect choice, and I'd have to agree. I think Jack would have been too much of a scene-stealer.
2. What does Porky's, the raunchy 80s teen sex movie, have to do with a wholesome film like A Christmas Story? Bob Clark directed both "“ Porky's in 1982 and A Christmas Story in 1983. If Porky's hadn't given him the professional and financial success he needed, he wouldn't have been able to bring A Christmas Story to the big screen.
3. For anyone keeping count, Ralphie says he wants the Red Ryder BB Gun 28 times throughout the course of the movie. That's approximately once every three minutes and 20 seconds.
4. Peter Billingsley, AKA Ralphie, has been good friends with Vince Vaughn since they both appeared in the CBS Schoolbreak Special (their version of the after-school special) in the early '90s. He made a surprise appearance on the "Vince Vaughn Wild West Comedy Show" in Memphis, Tenn., in 2005.
5. I'm a little sad to report this one. Scott Schwartz, who played Flick (who stuck his tongue to the frozen flagpole), was submerged in the adult film industry for a number of years. He got out in 2000 to try to become a mainstream actor again, but it looks like the only thing of any note he's done since is Pauly Shore's "You'll Never Wieze in This Town Again." Sigh.
6. Next time you're in Cleveland, you can visit the original house from the movie for only $7. It was sold on eBay in 2004 for $150,000. Collector Brian Jones bought the house and restored it to its movie glory and stocked it up with some of the original props from the film, including Randy's snowsuit.
7. Director Bob Clark got the idea for the movie when he was driving in the car with a date. He heard Jean Shepherd on the radio doing a reading of his short story collection, "In God We Trust"¦ All Others Pay Cash", which included some bits that eventually ended up in A Christmas Story. Clark said he drove around the block for an hour until the program ended, which his date was not too happy about.
8. The Wonder Years was inspired by A Christmas Story. In fact, in one of the last few episodes, Peter Billingsley appeared as one of Kevin Arnold's roommates.
9. Mythbusters tested whether it was possible to get your tongue truly stuck on a piece of cold metal. Guess what? It is. So don't triple dog dare your best friend to try it.
10. The real Red Ryder BB Gun was first made in 1938 and was named after a comic strip cowboy. You can still buy it today for the low, low price of $44.99.
11. While we're talking shopping "“ you know you want the leg lamp. Put it in your window! Be the envy of your neighbors! It's a Major Award! You can buy it here, but if you're not feeling quite so flamboyant you can get a replica that serves as a nightlight for $7.95.
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Don't shoot your eye out (kid).