For those who have never had the pleasure of watching the movie A Christmas Story released in 1983, it starred Peter Billingsley (Ralphie), Darren McGavin (father) and Melinda Dillon (mother). The main plot line is the telling of how 9 year old Ralphie has to convince his parents, his teachers and a department store Santa Claus that he was worthy of getting a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot, Range Model "BB" Air Rifle for Christmas. But as everyone reminds him throughout the movie, "You'll shoot your eye out"
It was a wonderful movie and has since become a holiday classic. An adult Ralphie narrates a story of his memorable1940 Christmas in Hammond Indiana. One reason it is so well loved is because we can see ourselves in the exploits of the Parker family. My childhood was in the early 50s and I could identify with many of the same scenes and situations Ralphie encountered.
In one scene Ralphie’s father works on the coal furnace while the family watches in horror as the narrator explains “My Father wove a tapestry of obscenities that hovers over Lake Michigan even today”. In the movie the Parker family lived on E. Cleveland Street but in reality the house is in Cleveland Ohio, 3159 W.11th Street to be exact. If Mr. Parker had woven a tapestry of obscenities it would have been hovering over Lake Erie.
Brian Jones loved the movie and after receiving a gift from his parents, a lamp made from a mannequin's leg, complete with stocking and shade, something sparked within him. He began to build the hideous lamps himself. Brian sold 500 of them when it came to his attention that the 111 year old “A Christmas Story” house was being sold on E-Bay. He won the bid for $150,000. That was just the first step for Brian as his hard work brought the house back to its 1940 A Christmas Story appearance. From the modern kitchen appliances of the late1930's to the old shed in the back yard, it is Ralphie’s house. You can enjoy a tour of the home almost any time of the year and with a museum and gift shop your experience will be complete. November 23 and 24 will be the first annual “ A Christmas Story” convention. With original actors on site for autographs and the taste of Chinese turkey it promises to be an enjoyable event. See you at Ralphie’s.
Finding a suitable location for the movie
To find an American city resembling an Indiana town of the 1940s, director Bob Clark sent his location scouts to twenty cities before selecting Cleveland, Ohio, as the site for filming.
The people of Cleveland were incredibly cooperative during filming, donating antique vehicles from every corner of the city. These vintage vehicles helped to enhance the authenticity of the production design.
Parts of the movie, including the Christmas tree shopping scene, were filmed in Toronto, Ontario. One of Toronto's trademark red trolleys can be seen driving by the shot of the outside of the tree lot.
Daisy Red Ryder 200 Air Rifle
The Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action BB Air Rifle had to be created specially for the film, because it never actually existed. That prop was acquired by the museum across the street from the house in an auction in November 2015.
Orphan Annie Decoder Pin
The Radio Orphan Annie decoder pin Ralphie receives is the 1940 "Speedomatic" model, indicating that the movie takes place in December, 1940. Different decoder badges were made each year from 1935-1940. By 1941, the decoders were made of paper.
Auto club furnished the cars
During the filming in downtown Cleveland, the antique automobile club members, whose cars were used, were given a route to follow on Public Square. They were instructed to continue circling the square until otherwise instructed. Road salt was a major concern for the car owners and the cars were pressure-washed after each day's filming and parked underground beneath the Terminal Tower.
The movie, A Christmas Story, Inspired the creation of the TV show "The Wonder Years" in 1988.
The original story, actually 3 stories that were combined for the movie, was written by Jean Shepherd (Shepherd has a cameo appearance in the department store scene, as the man who directs Ralphie to the end of the line) who grew up in Hammond. The 3 autobiographical short stories were originally published in Playboy between 1964 and 1966.
The movie A Christmas Story was released in 1983. In 2005 the house was sold on eBay for $150,000.