Sunday, December 23, 2007
You'll Shoot Your Eye Out
Christmas Eve tomorrow, and I'll crank up Ralphie and his quest for the Daisy Red Ryder air rifle once again. To those of you who celebrate the occasion, Happy Christmas. To those of you who don't, enjoy your Chinese food.
For fans who may not know, there is a whole industry that has sprung up about the movie, A Christmas Story.
Based on Jean Shepherd's radio ramblings and the books, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories, along with some short stories in Playboy, the movie was directed by Bob Clark (and there's a funny story there, about Porky's), came out in 1983, and quietly became a holiday standard. It has been my favorite Christmas movie since I first saw it, twenty-odd years ago.
The Cleveland house featured in the film went on the market some years ago, and a Navy guy who was a major fan leaped on it, bought it, and turned it into a museum.
You can buy Red Rider Leg Lamps at the gift shop across the street. There is an annual party at the house, featuring some of the actors from the movie.
And, of course, Daisy still makes Red Ryder air rifles, though they cost a little more now than when they first came out ...
Those of you too young to remember, Red Ryder was a cowboy hero in comics, on radio, and in movies. He shot the guns out of the bad guys' hands. Red had a sidekick, Li'l Beaver. The young lad -- not a girl, as you evil-minded sorts might think -- was played in the movies by various actors, including most notably, Robert Blake, who came out of the Our Gang comedies, went on to do Baretta on television, and who wound up being tried for murdering his ex-wife. Found not guilty on that. Just like OJ was not guilty of killing his ex-wife ...
The setting of A Christmas Story was probably about 1939 or 1940, which is about fifteen years before I was Ralphie's age and lusting after my first BB gun -- which I got the Christmas I was eight.
If you haven't seen this picture, you should -- it's not Miracle on 34th Street, nor It's a Wonderful Life, but it speaks to men of a certain age, and more so to me than either of those classics do. It makes me laugh, and I usually watch it late on Christmas Eve when Dianne is asleep; it's my personal ritual for the holiday.