The two cities of my life are connected by one movie, so I review the career of the ex-pat who made it happen and visit a magical land of fake overdone turkeys, "headknockers" and leg lamps that go on forever. Promise you won't shoot your eye out.
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Canuxsploitation interview with Bob Clark
Bob Clark @ the Film Reference Library
A Christmas Story @ wikipedia
A Christmas Story House! (even the site is great!)
How the house happened, in the New York Times
A Christmas Story in 30 Seconds With Bunnies
Who was Jean Shepherd?
My apologies to anyone who hasn't seen this movie. It's sort of ubiquitous in North America, most likely because the TV station TBS runs it for 24 hours over Christmas Day. But while we make a ton of obscure references to lines and terms in the film, there was a point where we all had to admit that probably none of us had seen the whole thing from beginning to end in one shot - we'd seen different chunks of it at different times, and it eventually added up to seeing all of it. So if you don't have the slightest clue what we're talking about, follow the links up there for the wikipedia article and the 30 second version with bunnies, and I think you'll be pretty well caught up.
In order to keep in the stories from that nasty elf, the lovely Patty Johnson (LaFontaine), I had to cut pretty well everything else in the museum, which is a trove of memorabilia with everything from scripts and behind-the-scenes photos to Randy's snowsuit. But I think you can tell anyway that the guys who put that place together weren't half-assed about anything.
Researching the links, I learned that the man whose stories made up A Christmas Story, Jean Shepherd, was not just a writer (though that would have been plenty), but a radio personality and voiceover artist. That might not be such a surprise considering his voiceover performance as adult Ralphie in the movie. Shepherd first worked in radio as a DJ, but he started telling stories more than he was playing music, so his path in radio soon changed to becoming a storyteller full-time. In fact, that was how Bob Clark discovered him. According to one of the trivia articles on the A Christmas Story House site:
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.Jim Clavin, of the Shepherd fansite Flick Lives, writes about listening to Shepherd on New York's WOR:
"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."
Here, he spent the next 22 years talking to "me". Every Jean Shepherd listener will tell you that, as he sat there in front of the radio, or had it tucked beneath his pillow, Shep was talking only to "me". He had a method of talking as if he were sitting in your living room holding a casual conversation, discussing auto racing, or a recent trip abroad.Sounds like that guy would've made a damn good podcaster.