It's never easy to adapt a holiday classic, especially one that's best known now as a movie rather than as an assortment of radio addresses. This production, however, does an admirable job, using sound effects, mellow Christmas music and Cavett's wry, relaxed narration to draw out the down-home charm of Depression-era Indiana. Listeners will feel almost as if they're standing next to Ralphie Parker as he waits anxiously in line at Goldblatt's department store to ask "the Man, the Connection, Santa Claus himself" for a Red Ryder BB gun. The ringing of cash registers, the crinkling of paper and packages, and the excited chatter of kids are all audible, and Shepherd's sharp descriptions give every scene definition. Only the final story, "The Grandstand Passion Play of Delbert and the Bumpus Hounds," fails to live up to the standard set by the others. In this tale, the Parkers struggle to put up with their tobacco-chewing, hillbilly neighbors, whose dogs eventually ravage their Easter ham. Cavett affects an exasperatingly slow, guttural drawl for the Bumpus males, which makes them sound like caricatures. On the whole, however, Cavett's reading is superb, as are the sound effects. Though this audio adaptation won't likely achieve the same status as the movie, it's certainly worth a listen.
A beloved, bestselling classic of humorous and nostalgic Americana—the book that inspired the equally classic Yuletide film.
The holiday film A Christmas Story, first released in 1983, has become a bona fide Christmas perennial, gaining in stature and fame with each succeeding year. Its affectionate, wacky, and wryly realistic portrayal of an American family’s typical Christmas joys and travails in small-town Depression-era Indiana has entered our imagination and our hearts with a force equal to It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.
This edition of A Christmas Story gathers together in one hilarious volume the gems of autobiographical humor that Jean Shepherd drew upon to create this enduring film. Here is young Ralphie Parker’s shocking discovery that his decoder ring is really a device to promote Ovaltine; his mother and father’s pitched battle over the fate of a lascivious leg lamp; the unleashed and unnerving savagery of Ralphie’s duel in the show with the odious bullies Scut Farkas and Grover Dill; and, most crucially, Ralphie’s unstoppable campaign to get Santa—or anyone else—to give him a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Who cares that the whole adult world is telling him, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid”?
The pieces that comprise A Christmas Story, previously published in the larger collections In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories, coalesce in a magical fashion to become an irresistible piece of Americana, quite the equal of the film in its ability to warm the heart and tickle the funny bone.