Friday, February 04, 2005

A Christmas Story: I was asked if I knew of a prequel to the hilarious film, A Christmas Story. I actually hadn't, but I did a little research, and here's what I found out.

The movie is based on a book by Jean Shephard called In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which contains recollections from his childhood. He also wrote the screenplay and is the voice of the "Narrator" in the film we all know and love.

The first time anything from this book was adapted for screen was in 1976, when the weekly anthology series, Visions did an episode called "Phantom of the Open Hearth." Although the series usually did dramas, the comedy still fit the template of "period" themed shows they liked to do.

The next project done from the book was another made-for-TV movie in 1982 called The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters. It featured Ralph as a teenager, played by Matt Dillon.

It must have been quite a hit, because one year later we got two Jean Shephard movies--A Christmas Story, and another made-for-TV movie, The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski, which features Ralph as a high school kid in his first serious relationship.

Five years later, in 1988, Disney did another made-for TV movie that was more a direct sequel to the movie. It was called Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss and although it featured a different cast, it was a clear attempt to recreate the same feelings as the 1983 movie. It seems to be "Ralphie Goes To Camp."

One more sequel was done in 1994, which most people feel is the better of the two. When it first ran it was called It Runs in the Family, although they eventually changed the name to My Summer Story to try to make it clearer which movie it was a sequel to. It featured Kieran Culkin--Macaulay's brother--as Ralphie.

Jean Shepherd did the narration for these last two just like he did for the movie.

I've seen none of them, so I can't recommend or criticize any of them.

1 comment:

theFrog said...

A Summer Story wasn't that good - not because of Kieran (who did a fairly good job as Ralphie), but because of Charles Grodin playing the father. Mary Steenburgen was ok, but really both she and Grodin put way too much effort into trying to clone the performances of Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin in A Christmas Story. It was off-putting to say the least.

Long story short, it's not horrible, but be prepared to be especially annoyed by Charles Grodin's portrayal of "Dad" Parker. Especially when he tries to do that gruff, grumpy "Dad" Parker voice that McGavin perfected in A Christmas Story.