An infrequent but nevertheless joyous family tradition of mine is to catch up with the tales of nine-year-old Ralphie Parker and his family in Bob Clark’s adaptation of Jean Shepherd’s semi-autobiographical stories. It covers his pursuits in the lead up to Christmas to convince his family, teacher and a department store Santa to deliver him a Red Rider Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle for Christmas, despite the fact he will inevitably poke his eye out.
The film was made in 1983, but is set in early 1940s USA. It is heaped in nostalgia for an era that many of us now can’t remember, but somehow feel represents our past. It is a past that is entirely more innocent: be it the kids crowding around the radio for their favourite show, or the punishment for swearing (the classic bar of soap in the mouth), the music and the cars. It sends a strange shot of emotion across me as it reminds me of growing up, despite the fact I was born after the film was released.
The script doesn’t really follow any real character development, instead taking on a mode of storytelling via a series of vignettes that dip into various tales. It works because each mini-tale is absolutely hilarious, and the actors are all clearly having a lot of fun with the material. I defy anyone to not find at least one part of the story they can relate to.
Above all else, it’s simply hilarious.
Please seek it out and spread the word. This film needs to be enjoyed by more people than are aware of it today.