“A Christmas Story” is a 1983 film adaptation of the novel “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” by Jean Shepherd. It depicts an Adult Ralphie Parker narrating his Christmas story in the 1940’s. Ralphie is a daydreaming young boy who lives with his parents and younger brother Randy. He wants one thing for Christmas and is absolutely determined to get it, even if he ends up shooting his eye out. With the help of his two friends, Schwartz and Flick, Ralphie confronts his bully and double dog-dares. This is a movie that plays for 24 hours on Christmas each year, but what is it that makes it such a Christmas classic? Here are 9 of my favorite scenes that make “A Christmas Story” so enjoyable and nostalgic.
- “I Triple- dog-dare ya”
Don’t try this at home kids. Peer pressure is never a good thing; just say no. On the school yard, Ralphie’s friends, Schwartz and Flick have a disagreement on whether your tongue will stick to a cold metal pole. Schwartz believes it will indeed stick because his father told him about it, but Flick finds it ridiculous. To prove he is right, Schwartz dares him to try it out. Scared, he shrugs it off and declines. However, Schwartz skips right over the Double-dog-dare and goes straight to the ever-powerful Triple-Dog-dare; as Ralphie says, you can’t back down from the Triple Dog. Flick must go for it, and sticks his tongue on the flag pole, getting it stuck. He pulls and tugs but to no avail. At first his friends try to help but the school bell rings; they don’t have any other choice than to go inside and leave poor Flick all alone. Their teacher notices Flick’s absence, and questions her students of his whereabouts. No one, not even Ralphie answers her. She looks out the window after getting a hint and sees Flick stuck to the pole. They eventually get him help and he returns to class with a bandage on his tongue. The students get reprimanded, and left to think about their teacher’s final words: “Poor Flick”.
- “Except I didn’t say Fudge”
Ralphie’s mother encourages him to help his father fix their car on the side of the road. As he is trying to assist him, he ends up dropping the F-bomb but the audience hears him say “Fudge”. Except he didn’t say fudge. Astounded, his father demands he go back into the car and wait until they return home where Ralphie gets his mouth washed out with soap. Not sure people still do this today, but back then it was common. His mom asks where he picked up such foul language; which adult Ralphie admits that he heard it from his father. Though, instead of ratting out his dad who is “the master of profanity”, Ralphie blames his friend, Schwartz. His mom calls up the kid’s mother and reveals the situation; the woman’s crazed screams are heard from the other line of the phone. You can hear her yelling at her son as she spanks him. I’m sure he heard about it from Schwartz the next day. Ralphie’s mother sends him off to bed, and tries the soap out for herself, only to spit it out. It’s nice that his mother wanted to sympathize with his punishment; it makes her an endearing woman who just wants her son to grow up well.
- “It was soap poisoning”
Ralphie has a vivid imagination as most young kids do. My favorite one of his daydreams, comes right after he gets his mouth washed out with soap for cursing. He dreams that he becomes blind, and comes to his parents with a cane. When they realize he cannot see, they become severely concerned. He tells them that his blindness is a result of soap poisoning; their fault for washing his mouth out with soap. Both parents cry and get on their knees begging for forgiveness as Ralphie soaks in the power he now holds over them. Over exaggerated but very funny.
- “Daddy’s going to kill Ralphie”
Most kids have that one bully that makes them utterly miserable. Ralphie and his friends had to deal with Scut Farkus; a red haired older kid whose favorite pastime was chasing and beating up elementary students. Well one day, Ralphie got fed up and decided he would fight back. He leapt on Farkus and started pounding on his face; screaming nonsense with tears running down his face. His little brother Randy brought their mother in to stop the fight, leaving a bloodied Farkus in the snow. I’m sure he never bothered them again. When Ralphie gets home, his mother takes care of him instead of punishing his actions. She cleans him up and reassures him that he will be ok. Meanwhile, Randy hides in the cupboard crying that when their father comes home, he will kill Ralphie. Their mother comes to the rescue yet again; she gives her youngest son a cup of milk, reassures him that Ralphie will be fine, and closes the cupboard back up. She later covers for Ralphie while talking with her husband and quickly changes the subject to something she knows will distract the old man.
- “It’s a major award”
The famous leg lamp that we all know and love. At the start of the movie, Ralphie’s father is doing a crossword puzzle and cannot answer the final question. However, his wife knows the answer and they win the contest. Technically, when he wins his major award, it really belongs to his wife; not that she would want it. He receives a large box that says “Fragile” on it, but he reads it as “Fra GEE-Lay” so he believes it to be foreign. After opening the box, he sees that his prize is a giant leg lamp that he immediately falls in love with. He makes room for it in the window to display for the whole neighborhood to see; despite his wife’s wishes against it. Ralphie keeps wanting to touch it; the narrator comments on his fascination with the “soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window”. Just as his father is admiring his major award, the faulty furnace starts acting up so he goes down into the basement to fix it. As he does this however, he hears a loud crash and runs upstairs. He finds his wife holding the broken pieces of his lamp. She claims it was an accident but when he searches for glue to put it back together, she is quick to tell him they have no more left. He accuses her of using it all up on purpose because she was jealous of his major award. She probably was. His wife didn’t like her young boys gazing up at a sexual object and wanting to touch it, and I doubt she wanted to have her friends see it in their window every day. I don’t blame her.
- “Remember to drink your Ovaltine”
Before television shows and toys in cereal boxes, kids listened to radio dramas like “Little Orphan Annie”; Ralphie’s favorite mystery. He gets excited and follows along to enter a contest to win a prize in the mail. He impatiently awaits the mail and rips the package open to reveal the secret decoder ring inside. Ralphie rushes into the only room with a lock (the bathroom) and hurriedly decodes the Annie’s message. With his mother banging on the door and Randy needing desperately to go to the bathroom, Ralphie finally completes his mission. Only the message is a crummy commercial advertisement to drink Ovaltine. At a young age, Ralphie is confronted with reality. Pure disappointment.
- “He’s a Pink Nightmare”
On Christmas morning Ralphie is forced to wear a gift made by his aunt. Every kid has a memory of getting clothes as a gift; in this situation, it is a bit extreme. He receives a pink bunny rabbit onesie; his delusional aunt is convinced that he is a young girl. Out of respect for the gift, his mother tells him he must wear it when his aunt comes over. Poor Ralphie looks humiliated as he stands on the steps staring down at his parents. Finally, his father saves him and allows him to take off the outfit, after calling him a deranged Easter Bunny and a Pink Nightmare. The large ears and cotton tail were nothing compared to those adorable bunny face slippers!
- “You’ll Poke your eye out”
Ralphie wants an “Official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle” for Christmas. He first sees it in a store window and obsesses over it throughout the entire movie. He leaves clues and hints for his parents in their reading materials, like one of his mother’s magazines. During conversations with them, he would mention how cool the Red Ryder is and how Schwartz will be getting one for Christmas. It is all he wants, but their response is “You’ll shoot your eye out”. They aren’t the only ones to say it though. When he writes a Theme paper on what he wanted for Christmas, and then bribes his teacher with a fruit basket, she responds with the same quote and gives him a low grade on the assignment. It certainly wasn’t the “A plus plus plus” he fantasized her giving him for it. It happens again when he meets Santa. After waiting in a very long line, and getting flustered by the rude Santa and his helper, Ralphie stumbles on what he wanted to ask Santa for; almost agreeing to a football instead of the Red Ryder. Just in time though, he snaps out of it and climbs back up the slide they pushed him down to beg for the rifle he wants so badly. Santa says, “You’ll shoot your eye out kid” and nudges him back down. Ralphie’s last chance was a failure. However, on Christmas, after all the gifts had been opened, his dad claims that he missed one that was hidden. Without his wife’s permission or approval, he bought his son the Red Ryder, because he had one when he was a boy. Ecstatic, Ralphie goes out in the snow and plays with his new toy; imagining shooting down robbers. A few minutes pass and one of the bullets ricochets off something he shot and hits him in the face. He thinks he shot his eye out, just as he was warned. He fumbles around looking for his glasses but ends up stepping on them. He cries to his mom, but she believes it was a fallen icicle that almost blinded her son; Ralphie is good at making up stories.
- “It’s smiling at me”
Ralphie’s father starts to pick at the dinner that his wife slaved over as she warns him not to touch it. Throughout the entire movie, the neighbor’s dogs have been an adversary for the children’s father. He often yells at them for running amok and entering his house. Well by the end of the movie, these crazed hounds get into the house and attack the family’s Christmas turkey. The father is distraught and his wife in hysterics. So, without a dinner anymore, the family goes to the only place open on Christmas; a Chinese restaurant. The waitstaff try singing Christmas songs for them, but their boss and conductor is not happy with their heavy accents. He tries repeatedly to teach them to sing “Fa la la” instead of “Fa ra ra”, but to no avail. Finally, their dinner is served; a fully cooked duck with the head still on. Their father tries to politely explain to the owner that they are uncomfortable with this by saying how the duck is still smiling. Understanding the problem, the man smiles and beheads the duck with a cleaver, right there on the table. The mother yelps and the family laughs together. It is unusual but not a Christmas that they will soon forget.
[Photo Credit: IMDB]