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Over 30 things you didn't know about the holiday movie 'A Christmas Story'

Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at 12:56 PM Central
Last updated Monday, August 13, 2012 at 8:21 AM Central

by Tim Briscoe

The holidays are upon us and what better way to celebrate them than with the classic movie A Christmas Story. Humor and trivia magazine Mental Floss recently published 12 tidbits about the film you probably didn't know.

Not to be outdone, we've added 20 more. Both lists should give you enough ammunition to amaze your friends and family during repeated viewings.

First, here are the dozen facts presented by Mental Floss. You can read full details on each at their web site.

  1. Jack Nicholson was very interested in playing Ralphie’s dad.
  2. Bob Clark directed sex comedy Porky's in 1982, a year before A Christmas Story.
  3. Ralphie says he wants a Red Ryder BB Gun 28 times throughout the movie.
  4. Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) was an executive producer on Iron Man.
  5. Mythbusters tested the tongue-sticking-to-metal pole phenomenon.
  6. Scott Schwartz (Flick) worked as an adult film actor for a time.
  7. You can tour the house used for filming in Cleveland.
  8. Bob Clark has inspired to make the movie after hearing author (and movie narrator) Jean Shepherd read from his short story collection on the radio.
  9. TV's The Wonder Years was inspired by the movie.
  10. Real Red Ryder BB Guns were first made in 1938.
  11. In addition to the gun, you can buy replicas of the leg lamp, Lifebuoy soap, and decoder pin used in the movie.
  12. A sequel, My Summer Story a.k.a. It Runs in the Family, featuring a totally different cast was released in 1994.

Always the ones to go above and beyond, we now present 20 more trivia bits about the beloved movie.

  1. Director Bob Clark and his adult son were both killed in an L.A. car accident in 2007. A drunk driver crossed the median and struck Clark's Infinit Q-30 head-on. The man received six years prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter.
  2. The last movie directed by Bob Clark in 2004, SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 remains one of the worst reviewed movies on IMDb with a 1.7 rating on a 10 point scale.
  3. Bob Clark plays the Parker family neighbor who ogles the leg lamp from outside.
  4. Peter Billingsley was notable prior to the movie for his numerous TV commercial appearances. He starred as "Messy Mervin" in a series of ads for Hershey's chocolate syrup. He was also a regular on the NBC TV series "Real People" with Sarah Purcell and Byron Allen.
  5. Billingsley makes a brief appearance in another Christmas favorite, 2003's Elf. He plays a spectacled worker in Santa's workshop.
  6. Along with his friend Brian Evans, Peter released the holiday CD "Christmas Stories... Christmas Songs" in 1999.
  7. During his work on Iron Man, Billingsley posed with friend and director Jon Favreau for a photo featuring guns used during production. Rather than grasping the modern weaponry, Peter is shown holding the beloved Red Ryder gun.

  8. Zack Ward, who played yellow-eyed bully Scut Farkus, continues to have a successful acting career. He appeared in the movies Transformers, Postal, and BloodRayne II. He was also a regular on the TV sitcom Titus.
  9. Yano Anaya, the kid who played Scut Farkus' toadie Grover Dill, also played the paperboy in Better Off Dead who repeatedly demands "I Want My Two Dollars!" Thanks to reader Wayne for this correction. Yano played another paperboy in the movie. It was Demian Slade who played Johnny, the "two dollars" paperboy. Since this fact has been nullified, in its place we present The Christmas Story Drinking Game.
  10. There is a scene deleted from the movie where Ralphie has a Flash Gordon fantasy.
  11. A Christmas Story grossed around $19 million during its run theaters, a respectable amount for the time.
  12. According to IMDb, the Ralphie Parker, Randy Parker, Flick, Schwartz, et al, characters created by Jean Shepherd first appeared in the 1976 made-for-TV movie "The Phantom of the Open Hearth." Ralphie Parker was also played by Matt Dillon and Jerry O'Connell in the TV movies "The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters" (1982) and Ollie Hopnoddle's Haven of Bliss (1988).
  13. Many people have attempted to establish the year in which the movie takes place. The Parkers' 1937 Oldsmobile, the 1940 "speedomatic" Little Orphan Annie decoder badge, and the 1936 (or '46) trade of White Sox pitcher Bullfrog Bill Dietrich are cited but none resolve to a specific year.
  14. The film is set in a fictional Indiana town named Hulman. It's based on Shepherd's hometown of Hammond, a city southeast of Chicago. The movie was filmed in Cleveland with other parts shot in Toronto.
  15. The last name of actress Melinda Dillon (Ralphie's mom) is misspelled as "Dillion" during the end credits.
  16. If you look closely, you can see 1980s model cars driving by the school during the flagpole scene.
  17. A three-day convention was held in Cleveland in November to honor the 25th anniversary of the movie. Eight original cast members were on hand for autographs.
  18. Two fans of the movie produced the Road Trip for Ralphie documentary which visits more than 15 locations used in the movie.
  19. There is also a 75-minute documentary titled Shooting Your Eye Out: The Untold 'Christmas Story' with never-before-seen on-set photos and interviews.
  20. Cable TV network TNT first ran its 24-hour marathon showing of the movie in 1988. The repeating airing of the movie 12 times in a row (now on sister station TBS) has become a Christmas Eve tradition.