There’s no denying that A Christmas Story has become a holiday tradition for many families around the world. First released in 1983, the film starred Peter Billingsley as Ralphie; a young boy who wants nothing more than a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. Since the film’s release, the movie has become regarded as a Christmas classic, and the original house shown in the movie has even become a museum. Many people watch the movie every year around the holiday season, with TBS even playing the movie on their station for 24 hours once a year.
Between the captivating storytelling, quirky characters, and overall filming style, A Christmas Story has stood out compared to several other similarly-styled Christmas movies. A Christmas Story has gotten a few sequels over the years, even one in 1994 directed by Bob Clark himself, but none of them have been able to live up to the original ‘80s flick. Much like other movies that are regarded as classics, A Christmas Story has a lot of fascinating trivia behind the movie that many people might not be aware of. With that in mind, here are 25 Weird Facts Behind The Making Of A Christmas Story.
25 He Didn’t Say Fudge
There are many iconic moments in A Christmas Story, but among the most popular scenes is when Ralphie says fudge. Well, Ralphie didn’t actually say fudge. He said: “The queen mother of [bad] words.” As it turns out, actor Peter Billingsley didn’t say fudge either.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Billingsley explained that he had to say this “bad word” over and over again until they got the right take. While people usually don't hear 12-year-olds say that word, Billingsley explained that since he had been in Hollywood at an early age, that wasn’t the first time he heard or said it.
24 They Gave Billingsley Stuff They Really Shouldn't Have
While many child actors are forced to grow up too fast, Billingsley had to do something on the set of A Christmas Story that no actor should ever have to do. During the scene where Ralphie is firing at the bandits in his backyard, Billingsley was actually chewing on the real deal.
Most actors chew on black licorice to make it seem like they are chewing the same stuff Cowboys did, but the prop department on A Christmas Story gave the child actor something they legitimately shouldn't have. Billingsley explained that he got really dizzy, started sweating, and his lips started burning on set.
23 The Film Was Mainly Filmed In Cleveland and Toronto
Most movies film in several different cities to get the desired scenery for shots, and A Christmas Story was no exception. The film is supposed to take place in Northern Indiana in a town called Holman, but the film was mainly filmed in Cleveland, Ohio and Toronto, Ontario.
The Parker residence was filmed at 3159 W. 11th St., Cleveland, OH 44109 near downtown Cleveland, which has since been turned into a museum dedicated to the film. That being said, many of the interior shots of the house and the Christmas tree shopping scene were filmed in Canada.
22 Ralphie Teamed Up With Flash Gordon In A Deleted Scene
When a film goes through the editing process, many scenes are cut down or even taken out completely to fulfill a certain runtime. This means that sometimes, the filmmakers' full vision doesn’t make it to the big screen, but will show up in deleted scenes instead.
One deleted scene for A Christmas Story was another fantasy sequence where Ralphie joins forces with Flash Gordon to defeat Ming the Merciless. While the scene can’t be found online, the Christmas Story Museum in Ohio has script pages from it, as well as an image of Ralphie on the planet Mongo in a spacesuit with his BB gun.
21 A Christmas Story Is Based On A Book
Lots of times, movies aren’t technically original stories, since many of them are based on books. Much like superhero movies use comic book narratives to adapt popular characters, Bob Clark based A Christmas Story on a book written by Jean Shepherd.
The movie was based on a book called In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, which was a collection of Shepherd’s stories that he had previously recited on the radio in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The book ended up becoming a best-seller, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that director Bob Clark ended up adapting it for a movie.
20 The Infamous Tongue Scene Was Fake (But Is Actually Possible)
Among the most iconic scenes in A Christmas Story is a moment when Flick, played by Scott Schwartz, is dared to stick his tongue to a frozen flag pole. Only it wasn’t just a dare, it was a triple dog dare, so of course, Flick had no choice but to do it.
As it turns out, the child actor didn’t actually use his tongue because a human tongue can actually get stuck to a frozen pole! The scene was filmed by pulling the actors tongue with a suction tube, but Mythbusters proved that in cold temperatures, cold metal will basically turn saliva into “a kind of superglue.”
19 Jack Nicholson Almost Played Ralphie’s Dad
Many talented actors were part of A Christmas Story, including Darren McGavin. The actor had been acting for nearly 40 years by the time A Christmas Story was released, but his role of the “Old Man” almost went to a much younger actor.
Jack Nicholson almost played Ralphie’s father in A Christmas Story, but ultimately, he wasn’t chosen since the filmmakers couldn’t afford to pay him the amount he requested. By 1983, Nicholson was something of a superstar, so it isn’t a surprise that a low-budget family film couldn’t afford him.
18 The Leg Lamp Was Inspired By A Soda Ad
Of all the images that A Christmas Story provided to fans, the Leg Lamp is arguably the most iconic symbol from the movie. The lamp was won by the “Old Man” in the original movie, but the design for the lamp was inspired by an illuminated Nehi Soda advertisement.
The lamp was first described in detail for the short story “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award That Heralded the Birth of Pop Art,” written by Jean Shepherd. Describing the lamp is one task, but actually creating a physical prop was a whole other story.
17 Nobody Knows When The Film Takes Place
Even though the film was made in the 1980s, the film actually takes place around the 1940s. Although it is widely thought that the film takes place in the ‘40s, the exact year is still unknown. Some people believe it takes place in 1941, since Mrs. Parker mentions the Bears vs Packers game that took place on December 14, 1941. Also, the Orphan Annie decoder pin is the Speed-O-Matic model that released in 1940.
However, the film could even be set in 1939, since the calendar in the kitchen puts December 1st on a Friday.
16 Bob Clark And Jean Shepherd Have Cameos
Today, it’s not super uncommon for movies to throw in celebrity cameos. Just about every superhero movie has several celebrity cameos, but in the ‘80s it was a tad less common. That being said, A Christmas Story not only features a cameo from director Bob Clark, but from writer Jean Shepherd as well.
Shepherd is the narrator of the film, but he also shows up in the department store when Randy and Ralphie are waiting to see Santa. Clark also appears in the movie as the neighbor named Swede, who comes outside to look at Mr. Parker’s leg lamp.
15 The Snow Was Made Out Of Soap And Foam
It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that movies often use fake snow to create winter wonderlands. Not only is fake snow easier to control than real snow, but it is usually easier on the actors, since they won't freeze while delivering their lines.
However, on the set of A Christmas Story, during the scene where the kids encounter the meanies, soap shavings and firefighter's foam were used for the snow. While this probably made the actors warmer, several actors have stated that it made the set incredibly slippery.
14 The Movie Inspired The Wonder Years
While A Christmas Story got a few unpopular sequels, it did partly inspire a popular TV show: The Wonder Years. This becomes apparent when viewers focus on the coming-of-age theme, as well as the narration used in the show.
The show revolved around Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage), who told stories of growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, which is easily comparable to Ralphie telling the story about that Christmas in the ‘40s. Peter Billingsley even played Micky Spiegel in the final two episodes of the show.
13 Peter Billingsley Was The First Child To Audition For Ralphie
When making a movie, casting is one of the most important steps during the development of a film. If a movie gets a casting decision wrong, it can often weaken the entire movie, but thankfully, Bob Clark chose Peter Billingsley for Ralphie.
Clark apparently went through thousands of child actors, only to return back to the first boy who auditioned for Ralphie. Clark didn’t think he should hire the very first actor that auditioned, but he ended up wasting a lot of time by auditioning so many other actors.
12 The Character Scut Farkus Wasn’t In The Book
While many elements from Jean Shepherd’s novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash made it into A Christmas Story, Scut Farkus wasn’t present in the book at all. Farkus (Zack Ward) is one of the meanies that attacks the children in the movie, but he is also accompanied by Grover Dill (Yano Anaya).
While Grover was a character in Shepherd’s book, Scut Farkus was designed specifically for the movie.
11 The Actor’s Reactions To The Singers Were Real
While A Christmas Story has many heartwarming scenes and good family messages, the very end of the film is actually considered quite offensive. In one of the final scenes of the movie, the family goes to a restaurant where a Christmas duck is brought to their table.
The scene contains a group of men singing “Jingle Bells” in a very stereotypical fashion, which comes off as incredibly offensive. Despite that fact, the scene still happened, and the actors' reactions to the singing were genuine as Bob Clark didn’t tell any of them that the men were going to sing during the film.
10 Billingsley Got To Take Home Several Props
There have been several occasions where actors are allowed to take home props from movie sets they worked on. While there are several props from A Christmas Story that fans would love to have, actor Peter Billingsley actually got to take home three items.
These items included the famous Red Ryder BB gun, the embarrassing pink bunny suit, and Ralphie's broken glasses. What makes this even more interesting is that the broken glasses Billingsley took home weren't really a prop, they were his own glasses that broke on set.
9 The Film Had A Very Small Budget
Even though Bob Clark was a successful director by the time A Christmas Story was released, the film still had an incredibly small budget. The film was given around a $3,300,000 budget, which wasn’t even made back in its opening weekend.
The film only made $2,072,473 when it opened, but ended up making a domestic total gross of $19,294,144. Since the film had a small budget, the film had very little special effects, meaning that the scene where the bandit has sparks appearing from his behind was actually real.
8 Wil Wheaton And Sean Astin Auditioned For The Role Of Ralphie
While Peter Billingsley will forever be known as Ralphie from A Christmas Story, there were several other actors who auditioned for the role. Director Bob Clark is said to have auditioned over 1,000 kids for the character, including Wil Wheaton and Sean Astin.
Wheaton is known for his role in the movie Stand By Me, as well as the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation. Astin on the other hand, is known for his role in Richard Donner’s The Goonies, as well as his role of Sam in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. While both would have likely been good in the role, nobody can replace Billingsley as Ralphie.
7 Ralphie Says He Wants A Red Ryder BB Gun 28 Times
Everybody who has seen A Christmas Story knows exactly what Ralphie wants for Christmas. Ralphie wanted an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, but everybody tells him that he’ll injure himself.
It’s pretty hard to forget what Ralphie wants for Christmas, since the BB gun is such an important part of the story, and the fact that Ralphie says he wants it for a total of 28 times! Ralphie, of course, gets his wish granted on Christmas, but he also does injure himself in the process. Thankfully, those big glasses saved his eyesight.
6 Locals Filled In As Extras
Usually, when films are under development, they will begin an extensive casting process to find the right actors for the roles in the movie. Sometimes, a film will pass on famous actors, and instead, just cast regular people. In the case of A Christmas Story, several of the minor characters were filled in with local extras.
In the scene where Ralphie and Randy are waiting to meet Santa, Ralphie encounters a weird child wearing big goggles. The boy was just an extra, but Bob Clark decided to put him in the film because he looked odd. Santa, his elves, and the Wicked Witch of the West were also all local extras.
5 The Movie’s Writer Would Often Try To Direct
Directors usually aren’t the only person on set to put their ideas into the film. Many times, directors will have pushback by other crew members who don’t think something is going right. For A Christmas Story, Bob Clark no doubt did an incredible job directing the film, but writer Jean Shepherd also tried to direct the actors many times.
In an interview with Variety, Billingsley explained that both Shepherd and Clark had a specific vision for the film and that Shepherd would often try to direct him after Clark had walked away.
4 Bob Clark Thought Of The Film While Picking Up A Date
Filmmakers often have odd inspirations for why they make a film, but Bob Clark actually thought of A Christmas Story while he was picking up a date. While the movie was based on Jean Shepherd’s book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, he actually thought of the movie idea when he heard one of Shepherd’s stories on the radio.
In 1968, when Clark was going to pick up his date, he became so fascinated by Shepherd’s story that he continued to drive around the block until the story was over, leaving his date waiting for him.
3 The Success Of Porky’s Allowed A Christmas Story To Be Made
While A Christmas Story is a heartwarming tale that the entire family can enjoy, Bob Clark’s previous film was not. Two years prior to the release of A Christmas Story, Clark had released the raunchy comedy called Porky’s.
Even though Porky’s is now seen as an offensive movie that objectifies women, the film was a massive success in the ‘80s. The film made a lot of money at the box office and it is widely believed that A Christmas Story wouldn’t have been given the green-light if not for the success of Porky’s.
2 A Second Fantasy Scene With Black Bart Was Cut
Many scenes in A Christmas Story are fondly remembered, but among these scenes is the fantasy sequence. In the scene, Ralphie is saving his family from the outlaw, Black Bart, and his bandits. He uses his trusty gun “Old Blue” to defeat the bandits, but Bart gets away and says he’ll be back.
Apparently, Bart really did come back, only, it didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie. There was supposed to be a second fantasy sequence revolving around Black Bart, but much like that deleted scene with Flash Gordon, fans never got to see it.
1 All Three Leg Lamp Props Were Broken On Set
Since the leg lamp has become such an iconic image not just for A Christmas Story, but Christmas in general, many people would love to have their own lamp for the holiday season. Many actors probably would have liked to take the original leg lamp home from the set as well, but that never got to happen since all three leg lamp props were broken on set.
After Jean Shepherd thought of the idea for one of his short stories, production designer, Reuben Freed, created three lamps that were used in the film, but none of them survived the production.
Is there any other fun trivia you know about A Christmas Story? Let us know in the comments!