WTF Happened to A Christmas Story?

Last Updated on December 30, 2022

Last week, we looked at WTF Happened to the cast of A Christmas Story in a special yuletide edition of WTF Happened to this Celebrity. This week, we’re digging back into Bob Clark’s 1983 classic, A Christmas Story, and looking into how the film itself got made in the first place. While many consider it one of the definitive holiday movies now, in 1983, it was a pretty modest film that came from a director best known for exploitation films, Bob Clark.

Indeed, the Canadian Bob Clark had already made one Christmas classic, 1974’s Black Christmas, which is widely regarded as the first classic-style slasher film, within having also made the most popular Canadian film of all time, 1981’s Porky’s. Yet, neither of those hard-R films would have you think Clark could make a gentle, PG-rated Christmas movie that would stand the test of time. Suffice it to say, he pulled it off, giving the film a mild but unmistakable edge that keeps it from being too saccharine.

In this episode of WTF Happened to this Movie, which is written by Eric Walkuski, edited by Jeremy Hamley and narrated by Mathew Plale, we dig into how this film came together. We look at how it was an adaptation of humorist Jean Shepherd’s work and how Clark filled the cast with seasoned, genre-heavy veterans, such as The Night Stalker’s Darren McGavin and Close Encounter of the Third Kind’s Melinda Dillon. We also look at how the film was something of a sleeper hit in 1983 but how it only really became a smash once it came out on VHS and started airing on cable.

Do you agree with the modern assessment that A Christmas Story is the best holiday movie ever? Let us know in the comments, and also let us know when/where you first saw the film (editor’s note – the Canadian HBO First Choice way back in 1984/85, when I was 4).

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.