Amongst the overabundance of sanguine Christmas classics, A Christmas Story hits the nail perfectly on the head. The beloved feature remains a memorable Christmas-time staple with a bundle of unforgettable moments. As such, the TBS Network airs it on repeat for a 24-hour marathon annually. Directed by Bob Clark, the 1983 holiday favorite tells the story of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, who wishes for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. While the movie has garnered a massive following, there are certainly interesting things that fans aren’t aware of. With that, here are 10 facts about A Christmas Story that we bet you didn’t know about.
10. There Are Creator Cameos
Unbeknownst to many fans, director Bob Clark and writer Jean Shepherd both have cameos in the movie. During the ’80s, cameos from individuals behind the camera were considerably less common. Hence, the dynamic duo certainly makes their presence felt in the 1983 film.
While Shepherd serves as the film’s narrator, he also makes an appearance during a scene with Ralphie and Randy as they patiently wait to see Santa. Clark makes his appearance during a crowd of neighborly on-lookers alongside Ralphie’s dad as he shows off the infamous leg lamp.
9. Filmed in Cleveland and Toronto
A Christmas Story’s location has often been a hot topic of debate. The actual setting for the film itself is meant to be Hammond, Indiana. However, most of the movie’s scenes were filmed in Cleveland, Ohio.
To properly locate a setting that fit a resemblance of a town in Indiana, Clark’s scouts studied several cities before ultimately choosing Cleveland. Furthermore, a movie about an American family includes filming locations in Toronto, Canada as well.
8. Ralphie Never Asks His Father For The BB Gun
Despite desperately wanting the Red Ryder action-rifle, Ralphie never directly asks his father for the gift. Amongst those that he asks — including his mother, his teacher, and Santa — all three dismiss his request. However, his father, referred to only as “The Old Man,” ends up being the one who gives Ralphie his desired present on Christmas.
While it’s possible that Ralphie’s mother told her husband about the rifle, fans might be surprised to recall that Ralphie never outright asks his dad. As such, that makes this one of the more interesting facts about A Christmas Story.
7. The Same Meal
In a memorable scene, Ralphie’s younger brother, Randy, expresses his disgust for meatloaf. However, fans might be surprised to know that it’s heavily inferred that Ralphie’s family eats meatloaf for dinner quite often.
In fact, the family eats meatloaf, red cabbage, and mashed potatoes for dinner every single night. This certainly explains Randy’s obvious dissatisfaction, and why Ralphie purposely discusses his brother’s distaste for the dish.
6. The Old Man’s Tirade
To adhere to the film’s strict PG rating, Darren McGavin, who played Ralphie’s father, ad-libbed his brawl with the family’s furnace. In the iconic scene, the family hears a surprise crashing sound from the basement, prompting The Old Man to inspect the problem.
According to McGavin, his character’s entire monologue is completely made-up gibberish to avoid accidentally using actual profanities. While fans of the popular movie desperately try to listen in and make out the proper words, it proves to be utterly pointless.
5. Peter Billingsley Chewed Tobacco
In one of the more surprising facts about A Christmas Story, 12-year-old Peter Billingsley was given actual Chewing Tobacco to chew. The scene in which he uses the substance is Ralphie pretending to be a Sheriff and shooting at random bandits.
Following his exposure, the child actor felt incredibly sick. To counteract his ill feelings, the prop department instead gave him raisins to chew on to mimic the authenticity of real tobacco. The choice was undoubtedly much wiser, to spare Peter from sickness and to prevent future health issues.
4. Pole Got Your Tongue?
A Christmas Story is responsible for several memorable moments, but perhaps none more than Ralphie’s friend, Flick, getting his tongue stuck to the schoolyard pole. After doing so via a dare, Flick’s tongue becomes immovable from the metal pole. This immediately causes an intense panic from both him and his friends.
However, his tongue never actually got stuck. Instead, the prop department created an illusion of a suction tube pulling his tongue. Still, the situation generated enough fright in many younger fans, seeing as the scenario is quite possible.
3. A Duck-ing Good Time!
In a highly controversial scene, Ralphie’s family goes out to eat for Christmas after their dinner at home was ruined. During the scene, a group of men begins to sing a rendition of “Jingle Bells” which remains incredibly offensive.
On the brighter side, Melinda Dillon, who plays Ralphie’s mom, provides a genuine reaction. Interestingly enough, she failed to know that the served duck would be without its head. Her reaction is completely unscripted, much to the satisfaction of director Bob Clark.
2. Billingsley Actually Swore
In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Ralphie accidentally drops the f-word in front of his father. During the scene, Ralphie is assisting his father with their broken-down car, where he drops several tire bolts. As such, the audience simply hears Ralphie say “fudge” in place of the profanity.
In actuality, Peter Billingsley said the actual swear word multiple times. However, child actors using profanities has since become a norm within the Hollywood bubble. According to Billingsley, it wasn’t the first time he’d heard (or used) the word.
1. Jack Nicholson Almost Joined The Cast
Ralphie’s dad is one of the most legendary staples within the Christmas classic. From his waggish humor and whimsical quotes, it’s not hard to understand why he’s considered a favorite. However, Darren McGavin was almost defeated by the likes of Hollywood star, Jack Nicholson.
Initially, Bob Clark sought to recruit Nicholson for the role, in hopes that a bigger name would attract a larger audience for the movie. However, the talks between both parties eventually fell through. Nicholson carried an expensive fee, and in the end, Clark preferred McGavin’s warm and wacky nature. Who knows what Nicholson could’ve brought to the role.