Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post Christmas Post

I hope your Christmas was filled with movie memories.  I saw many DVDs and Blu-ray discs given out at my family gathering, and some liquid refreshment to go with it.  I came home with a very nice Kentucky bourbon gift.

Over the holidays we watched A Christmas Story (1983) from the creative mind of Jean Shepherd (1921 - 1999).  It is based on his novel, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.  Even though they were not mega-stars, Melinda Dillon (b. 1939) and Darren McGavin (1922 - 2006) were big stars and brought a lot of talent to the film.

Perhaps there was some over acting, but the movie is supposed to be the memories of Jean Shepherd's youth, seen after the years have embellished them.  Over acting was required to make it more fun.  The choice of music was interesting as well.  I noticed some Peter and the Wolf used when Ralphie and his friends encountered the neighborhood bully.

Of course Melinda Dillon was in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) as her big role.  Close Encounters was the top grossing film of all time, until E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial blew it away in 1982. My favorite scene of hers in A Christmas Story is when she is trying to get Ralphie's little brother to eat.

Darren McGavin always seemed to play the same character in everything.  No one will forget his expression of pride when he wins the crossword puzzle contest and receives his "major award."  I remember him well from his TV series, "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" in the 1970s.  His screen work started in 1945 and he has 180 titles in IMDb, mostly TV work.  In one movie role he played the gambler in The Natural (1984) but was uncredited.

Ralphie was played by Peter Billingsley (b. 1971).  Cute is not enough to describe him in the movie!  Those blue eyes were captivating, and his expressions, priceless.  He was, at 12 years old, the star of the film.

Billingsley has been successful in Hollywood as a producer, director and actor.  He has 31 titles as an actor.  A Christmas Story was his fifth movie.  He produced ten titles, about half of them on TV, and he directed Couples Retreat just last year.

Most of the other children in this film didn't fair well in acting, except maybe Zack Ward (b. 1970).  Zack has 85 titles so far, although none of them are really big hits.  He makes a living, and that's the important thing.

I must now look forward to New Year's Eve movies.  Any suggestions?


  1. I will probably be stoned and driven from town for admitting this, but I've never liked "The Christmas Story"...however, will admit that it does have an excellent cast.
    Very glad to hear your Christmas was so merry...and with that Kentucky bourbon gift, I expect the merriment will continue...

  2. Thanks, Eve. You like what you like. Jean Shepherd has a wry style that doesn't appeal to everyone. If you grew up in the forties, it may be different, and this movie has to be taken in context. All dads back then knew how to fix anything, and you had to stand up to the local bully if you wanted to be respected.

    As I've said before, almost any movie can be a great movie for someone. I've seen some stinkers, but I like to think it is just my opinion. For example - we picked up (for $1) an Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton TV movie, "Divorce His - Divorce Hers" and couldn't make it thru the whole thing. We put it in the charity donations box!

    Now, where's that bourbon?


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