Although it’s nice to have a vacation, I’m honestly not as fond of Christmas as I used to be. I dislike the holiday music, and unfortunately, I’m too cynical these days to believe in the sentimental messages of Christmas.
Still, if a Christmas film is well done, just like an unpatronizing romantic comedy, I can certainly enjoy it. It’s a Wonderful Life fits in this category, as does A Christmas Story, which is still enormous fun after all these years.
It’s funny to think A Christmas Story was made by the late Bob Clark, who also made the classic 70’s horror film Black Christmas, as well as the 80’s raunch comedy hit Porkys. Not to mention the other ironic twist that a great piece of Americana was helmed by Clark, who was Canadian. In fact, Clark wrote the script for A Christmas Story way back in 1969 before he even made his first movie.
“It was thirteen or fourteen years later that it got its chance,” Clark told me in 2004. “It was there hovering all the time.”
A Christmas Story was based on the work of satirist Jean Shepherd, whose work also inspired The Wonder Years.
“A Christmas Story is a combination of about eight or ten of Jean Shepherd’s tales or short stories woven into the screenplay,” Clark continued.
”Not all of them took place at Christmas, I just put them into the Christmas framework. I loved Sheppard’s sense of humor, his narration. I wasn’t just creating a Christmas story, I was creating a Christmas world. It’s a portrait of Christmas in Shepherd’s skewed, eccentric, edgy way.”
Like many great movies, A Christmas Story did not open well, but eventually grew into the classic it is today. It was a hard won victory for Clark who said, “It took so long getting it done, fighting for it and struggling to the death to get it released, but it was a joy doing it.
“It was one of those projects that was spiritually and emotionally working on every level. Most of my films have been a great joy, Porky’s was wonderful because I was recreating my childhood (laughs), but A Christmas Story may have a little bit of an edge where all the pieces came together. When it had an impact and became so much a part of the country’s consciousness, that’s joyful too.”