"A Christmas Story" is a staple of the holiday season, with annual 24-hour marathons on TBS and TNT. This year we have double the Ralphie fun because a sequel, "A Christmas Story Christmas," is streaming on HBO Max. Not only that, but Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie, and his Wild West Picture Show Productions partner Vince Vaughn, have started a new video podcast called "A Cinematic Christmas Journey." The first episode is about "A Christmas Story," and we're getting some fun tales from the set.
It's hosted by Billingsley and Nick Schenk, the screenwriter for the Clint Eastwood films "Gran Torino," "Cry Macho," and "The Mule," as well as the new sequel "A Christmas Story Christmas." For this episode, Schenk and Billingsley welcome Ian Petrella, who played Ralphie's little brother Randy, R.D. Robb, who played Schwartz, and Scott Schwartz, who played Flick. There are stories about the cursing Ralphie did and where it came from, how they pulled off the tongue on the flagpole scene, and even one about how director Bob Clark and Jean Shepherd would often argue on set.
"A Christmas Story" is based on Shepherd's 1966 book "In God We Trust: All Other Pay Cash." Shepherd is the voice of the narrator for the film and actually appears on screen in the Higbee's department store Santa visit scene as the dad who informs Ralphie about how long the line actually is.
'I Remember Them … Having An Argument About Something'
Nick Schenk asked how much Jean Shepherd was on the film set, and while Scott Schwartz said the author barely spoke to him, Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella, and R.D. Robb saw him quite a bit. In fact, Robb† says he remembers seeing Shepherd and Clark "go at it" when they shot the school scenes "outside in the snow." Schwartz said it was because Shepherd was giving Billingsley notes about how to play the role, which was based on his own childhood. He said that Clark asked Shepherd to "leave the kid alone, please."
Billingsley remembered it as well. He says:
"I remember, like, when we were on stage in the house, Bob would go to the bathroom. Jean would come over to me and he'd say, 'Do it like this. Do it like this.' And then Bob would come out and scream, 'Get away from my actor!' And then he'd go, 'What did he tell you? What did he tell you?' But I have a theory on this because I don't know, people have published that he was barred from set and that he was a quote — 'problem,' right? But I put it in the category of, he cared. Jean and Bob cared."
He mentions a documentary on Michael Jordan where the basketball icon was called "difficult" and said that it was because winning his tough and because he cared. Petrella adds, "You have two creative minds working. You have the one who wrote the story, and it's his story, and then you have Bob, and this is his vision, and so there's always going to be conflict."
A Meeting Of The Minds
Nick Schenk says he's experienced similar things when he gets to be on set for a few days for his films. " … Either I'm on it the whole time, or you're just a visitor. You're a tourist." He did mention that Clint Eastwood isn't like that and doesn't change anything, but that he understands.
Even though there was conflict on the set, the film has become an annual holiday tradition for so many people. It's a pretty perfect film if you ask me, but then again, I did leave a few Christmas lights up all year as "regular decoration" because I didn't want the holidays to end.
You can check out "A Cinematic Christmas Journey" on Spotify now. Future episodes of the podcast will also speak about "Home Alone," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," "Four Christmases," "It's a Wonderful Life," and "The Grinch." In the future, they'll also take on films about other holidays.
"A Christmas Story" and the sequel "A Christmas Story Christmas" are currently streaming on HBO Max.
Read this next: The 50 Best Christmas Movies Of All Time, Ranked
The post Director Bob Clark and Writer Jean Shepherd Did Not Get Along on the Set of A Christmas Story appeared first on /Film.