What do you get when you take one bunny costume, add a pair of mean-spirited elves and a triple-dog dare gone horribly wrong, and throw in an epic quest for a Red Ryder BB gun?
The answer is pure movie magic in the form of “A Christmas Story,” one of the most beloved holiday classics ever made.
This year marks the film’s 30th anniversary, and to commemorate the occasion, “Good Morning America” sat down with four of the original cast members: Ian Petrella, who played Randy Parker; Scott Schwartz, who played Flick; Zack Ward, who was Scut Farkus, and Yano Ayana, who was Grover Dill.
The four men attribute the movie’s tremendous staying power to its fundamental message.
“It’s the Super Bowl of Christmas,” Petrella said.
Ayana added: “It’s all about family and family values, especially back in that day when there wasn’t too much fear in the world of letting your children walk to school by themselves or go out and play — or buy them a BB gun for Christmas.”
Ward said the film reflected “a shared reality that grandparents, parents and children all enjoyed together … that was the power of the movie, that everybody connected.”
The men reminisced about their time making the film (fun fact: the snowfall depicted in the scenes filmed in Cleveland wasn’t really snow. Those snowflakes were potato flakes!).
For his audition, Petrella simply sat down to an impromptu meal at the director’s house.
“Yeah, I did a screen test at his house. And it wasn’t even really a screen test. It was like going to Uncle Bob’s house. And then throw you at a table, shove a bowl of oatmeal going, ‘All right, now go ahead and eat like a piggy,’” he said, chuckling. “That was it. That was it. Next thing you know he says, ‘Okay, you’re Randy.’ I’m like, ‘Really?’ ‘Yeah.’”
And that legendary tongue scene?
Schwartz explained how they got his character’s tongue stuck to an icy pole.
“I mean, it was a real pole. But then over (it) they put a plastic pole with a little hole that (then) they put in it with a suction tube and a vacuum motor basically in the snow. Just think vacuum cleaner, put your hand to it,” he said, mimicking the noise of a vacuum. “Same concept but just on a very small scale. And stuck we were. There you go.”
While most films’ popularity diminishes over time, “A Christmas Story” seems to have a timeless appeal, probably in part due to TBS’ decision to start the now-annual tradition of airing the movie back to back for 24 hours straight on Christmas Day. Millions tune in.
There are now Christmas story conventions that feature costume contests and merchandise (leg lamp, anyone?).
The hit “A Christmas Story, The Musical” is now in its second hit year in New York.
And in Cleveland, fans line up to tour the house where it all began, each hoping for a chance to recreate a favorite scene from the movie.
The stars of the film now enjoy watching it with their own children. They find its ongoing popularity humbling but not entirely surprising.
“As opposed to being cute and kind of stupid and a movie that you put the kids in front of and then you walk ago to — go make a turkey,” Ayana said, “this movie you actually want to watch with them because it doesn’t insult your intelligence and the story value keeps on connecting to every generation. And that’s awesome!”