Step Into the Set of 'A Christmas Story'

"Fra-jee-lay, it must be Italian," said one woman, quoting the Old Man's famous line from the film.

'We've Touched Something in the Heart of the People'

Jones also bought the house across the street and turned it into a museum and souvenir stand, where he sells his leg lamps for $199 apiece.

Fans can also buy Xeroxed copies of the script for $40 and original pieces of siding from the house for $60.

Photos from when the movie was shot adorn the wall.

A glass case displays the toy blimp Ralphie got for Christmas, along with his cartoonishly restrictive snowsuit in which he whined, "I can't put my arms down."

Bob Clark, who co-wrote and directed the film, is not surprised at the popularity of the movie or the house.

"We've touched something in the heart of the people, and I think it's the craziness, the integrity, the realness of the movie."

Outside the house, locals who played small roles in the film mingle with the crowd, signing autographs and posing for pictures.

"I had no idea we would be riding the wave all these years. It's absolutely incredible," said Patty LaFountaine, a local actress who played one of Santa's sadistic elves.

"Who would have ever thunk it?" exclaimed Jim Marelovitz, who lived down the street and played a bit part -- literally -- in the film.

"You could only see a side view as I come in the door," he told a group of movie fans. Marelovitz pushed the hand truck that delivered the infamous leg lamp.

'It's 'A Christmas Story' …

This brings us back to Brian Jones and his unusual career.

"It will work out. It's 'A Christmas Story.' How can it fail? Everyone loves 'A Christmas Story,'" Jones figured.

He figured right. From the size of the crowds, Jones is obviously on to something.

His affection for the house and the movie helped to re-invigorate this neighborhood.

Cable did the same thing for the film. When "A Christmas Story" first opened in 1983, it was hardly a box-office hit.

The film premiered just before Thanksgiving and didn't even last until Christmas in theaters. Critics thought it was too sarcastic. One reviewer called it "as authentic as wax fruit." But that was before Turner Classic Movies and other cable channels started airing "Christmas Story" marathons -- leaving a younger generation of fans stuck on this unusual film.

Twenty-three years after the movie's lackluster release, Jones has reaped the rewards.

"Do you believe this?" he said, gesturing toward the crowd with a broad smile.

Take that, movie critics.

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