One of my all time favorite films, and not just Christmas films, is probably one of yours too. Bob Clark’s 1983 film A Christmas Story or “You’ll shoot yer eye out.” Written and narrated by Jean Shepherd (he also appears in one scene at the department store where Ralphie and his kid brother line up to visit Santa Claus. JS is the guy with the goatee who tells them to go to the back of the line).
JS wrote several books about his growing up experiences and appeared in at least one PBS travel special. His short stories were pure Americana and a delight to read. His story of Ralphie’s quest for a 200 shot Red Ryder BB gun was based on more than one of his stories in his collection In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.
Until today I wasn’t aware that there was a sequel to A Christmas Story. The film known originally as My Summer Story now appears under the title It Runs in the Family was made and released 11 years after A Christmas Story. Bob Clark again directed with JS co-writing and acting as exec producer (which means he helped bankroll the project).
The film opens with the closing shot from A Christmas Story then proceeds to the story, which takes place the following summer of 1940. Obviously the original cast had changed too much to reprise their roles, so a new group is in place, other than Tedde Moore who is back playing the schoolteacher. The new group includes two of the Culkin brothers playing Ralphie and his little brother. The part of “The Old Man,” played beautifully by Darrin McGavin, is done with less panache by Charles Grodin. Mary Steenburgen plays the mom. While not a classic in the same league as A Christmas Story, it is fun to watch if you enjoyed A Christmas Story as I did and continue to do.
Paul Zaza’s score makes a reprise and the new themes he wrote for the movie are spot on. JS again narrates and his voice carries the story forward when it seems unable to do so on its own. The closing scene, almost a mirror image of the final shot in A Christmas Story of the brothers asleep, is a shot of the home without the Xmas lights and it is a magical moment. You might want to look for It Runs in the Family on one of the many subscription movie channels.
The DVD still appears under the title My Summer Story. Merry Xmas and have a great summer.
Rated 2.5 for effort out of 4.0 reasons I still hate Scut Farkus