A Christmas Story. Like many of you out there I look forward to the 24 hour marathon every year so that I can once again feel the thrill of the Christmas mornings of my youth like Ralphie Parker experiences in the film. Though granted I only actually watch the entire movie straight through once during the marathon, it’s still a comfort to be able to switch on the TV and laugh at some of my favorite scenes throughout the day. After these many years of watching it I always feel like I’m going back home and visiting good friends.
Thankfully for all of us fans of the 1983 film we can take comfort that Christmas this year has come early by way of Caseen Gaines’ new wonderfully written book, A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic. If the author’s name sounds familiar it is because he also wrote Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon that the Retroist reviewed a few years back!
From the title you can surmise that this is indeed a behind the scenes of the making of A Christmas Story. Caseen brings us much more than that, this isn’t a clinical book filled with dry memories from the cast and crew. Those interviewed in the book either behind the camera or in front of it give engaging and humorous anecdotes about bringing Jean Shepherd’s ‘personal’ tale to the big screen.
The book doesn’t focus solely on the film either, Caseen gives us a behind the scenes view of the Broadway musical, of which Peter Billingsley (Ralphie Parker) is Executive Producer. Caseen shares information about A Christmas Story House, the museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Interviewing the owner of the house, Brian Jones, who purchased the house that was used as the exterior of the Parker residence on E*bay. Being a mega fan of the film himself he renovated the house so that the inside and outside of the home is a near-replica of what can be seen in the film.
Besides Brian Jones, Caseen interviews Tyler and Jordie Schwartz, fans of the film themselves who just so happened to have the drive to track down where some of the original costumes of the movie were being stored and purchased them in an effort to preserve them. Which of course Brian Jones was too happy to oblige and they are now on permanent display in the museum.
For me though, one of the greatest joys the book delivered was the personal photographs from the likes of Yano Anaya (Flick) and Ian Petrella (Randy), sharing moments on the set as the child actors behaved as children.
Caseen Gaines should be very proud of what he has done with this book. He has lovingly pulled back the curtain of a film we have grown to know so well and made us appreciate the efforts of the actors and crew to an even greater degree, and of course we nod our heads at the accomplishments of the super fans that have gone above and beyond the call to share their passion for the film with the whole world. I’m quite honored to have been asked to review this book and I do not hesitate for a second to recommend it to any fan of the film.
The book is available for Pre-Order over at Amazon.Com and will be released in October.