A Christmas Story (1983)

Film and Plot Synopsis

In A Christmas Story, nine-year-old Ralphie wants only one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder Range 200 Shot BB gun. When he mentions it at the dinner table, his mother’s immediate reaction is that he’ll shoot his eye out. So after his teacher assigns a Christmas theme, he writes about the gun. She too replies with his mom’s reaction. While fantasizing about catching bad guys with Red Ryder at his side, he decides to ask Santa. Santa too gives Ralphie mom’s same spiel. When the big day arrives, he gets lots of presents under the tree—including a lovely gift from his aunt—whom his mother adores. But does Ralphie get that BB gun?

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‘A Christmas Story’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
A Christmas Story (1983)A Christmas Story takes place during the Christmas season in Hohman—a fictive town in northwest Indiana. The year is what you’d call Norman Rockwell time, circa 1940. The story revolves around Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley). He’s a nine-year-old boy who wants only one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time. When Ralphie informs his mother of his greatest Christmas wish, she responds with, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Undaunted, Ralphie continues with his quest.

After his teacher, Miss Shields (Tedde Moore), assigns Ralphie’s class an essay—with a theme of what they want for Christmas—Ralphie enthusiastically composes an ode to the Red Ryder BB gun. Somehow, Ralphie hopes Miss Shields will be so overcome with his beautiful prose, that she will see to it that Ralphie gets his desired Christmas present. Instead, she gives him a C plus on the assignment, and writes the following warning in red: You’ll shoot your eye out!

The Scut and Grover Dill Incident

The next day, the local bully, Scut Farkus (Zack Ward), confronts Ralphie and his friends as they walk home. Throughout the film, Scut and his little toady, Grover Dill (Yano Anaya), routinely terrorizes the three boys. Whomever he chooses to pick on to abuse won’t stop until he makes them cry “Uncle!” On this particular day, Scut pegs Ralphie with a snowball to the face before taunting him.

With tears welling in his eyes, and an inner rage brewing, Ralphie snaps. He tackles Scut to the ground, and then pushes Grover to the ground who promptly runs off to tell his mom. Ralphie then resumes his onslaught’ beating Scut Farkus to a pulp while cursing at a proficiency and abundance that not even Old Man Parker (Darren McGavin) could match.

The beating continues until Ralphie’s brother, Randy (Ian Petrella), brings their mom (Melinda Dillon) to stop the fight. She pulls Ralphie away from Scut, and takes him home. Now, Ralphie’s biggest worry is what will happen to him when his temperamental father finds out. Randy’s afraid that daddy will kill Ralphie, and he hides under the kitchen sink in fear.

As it turns out, Mr. Parker barely even pauses from reading the evening newspaper when his wife tells him about the fight. She downplays the incident, and never brings up Ralphie’s expert use of profanity. So, Ralphie survives to fight another day, and Randy still has a brother.

Visiting Santa at Higbee’s

Ralphie now turns his attention to making his final plea for the gun. At the local Higbee’s department store, Ralphie asks Santa Claus (Jeff Gillen) for a Red Ryder BB gun. Santa responds with the old refrain, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid,” before booting him down a long exit slide. Ralphie’s now 0-3 in his quest for the gun.

On Christmas Day, Ralphie and his family go through the ceremonial orgy of opening presents. After opening seemingly every gift, Ralphie’s dad points to one last hidden present. He opens it, and at last his Christmas wish comes true. He immediately opens the box, and pulls out his new Red Ryder BB gun. Ralphie expertly loads it with pellets before dashing outside to try out his new present. He shoots at a target posted to a metal sign. The bb ricochets and strikes Ralphie in the face—knocking off his glasses—but fortunately missing his eye.

However, Ralphie accidentally steps on his glasses while searching for them; breaking the lens. He quickly comes up with a fib to tell his mother involving an icicle with murderous intent. All is well as Mom buys the fib hook, line, and sinker. However, while tending to her son, Mom inadvertently leaves the kitchen door open with the Christmas turkey sitting unattended on a table…and that’s when tragedy strikes the Parker family! Their hillbilly neighbors, the Bumpus’, have a pack of hungry hound dogs with no manners. They burst through the open door and devour the turkey. This prompts Mr. Parker—a bona fide turkey junky—to curse the hounds and all the heavens.

Chinese Turkey

After a very brief requiem, Mr. Parker announces that the family will now eat dinner at the only place open on Christmas: The Chinese restaurant. There, the restaurant owner leads his enthusiastic, but diction-challenged Chinese workers, on a Christmas-themed serenade. The owner then presents the ultimate Chinese Christmas feast: roast duck, its head still intact. With a ceremonial beheading of the duck, the Parkers gorge themselves on Chinese turkey.

The movie ends with Ralphie lying in his bed on Christmas night, his Red Ryder gun by his side.

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) released A Christmas Story to theaters on November 18, 1983. Bob Clark directs the film which stars Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, and Darren McGavin.

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