View Full Version : Were leg lamps really common in the 1940s?
12-07-2005, 09:14 PM
You know the "major award" The Old Man won in A Christmas Story, don't you? It's a leg lamp; the warm glow of electric sex in the form of an illuminated female leg wearing a high heel shoe and a fishnet stocking.
Were leg lamps really a home decorating trend in the 1940s? Could I have gone to a Sears store of the era and bought one?
12-07-2005, 09:44 PM
I read that the author just intended to include it as a goofy/tacky prize that only some men would consider to be a reasonable award (when they obviously won something blatantly stupid after pouring their efforts into a contest they believed had value. Also, see the dumb Ovaltine message born from the dumb decoder ring that Ralphie waited weeks for....and he knew it was stupid, unlike his Dad, who was too blind to recognize the stupidity of the prize).
The whole movie, Ralphie has an awareness for the stupidity of situations, as he sucks it all in.
It all baits you into believing that no one was aware enough to see that Ralphie's life depended on getting the gun. Good set up for the end. Mom: no clue. Dad: clueless (but he wasn't).
It wasn't really trying to be historically accurate.
12-07-2005, 09:46 PM
You can have one now (http://theleglamp.com/signaturelamp.htm) but I think the point in the movie was that it was something odd, tasteless, and mildly offensive. They didn't put it in the movie because it was something that was common. As a matter of fact, I believe it was invented for the movie and people produced it later out of that demand.
12-07-2005, 11:35 PM
A Christmas Story is a lot easier to parse if you listen to old recordings of Jean Shepherd's kick-ass late night radio show.
His narrative style is improvised anecdotal absurdism. He drops things that are outrageously improbable into his stories in a casual way that is really amusing. It's like listening to a story related by a slightly sozzled buddy who revels in his reputation for being a bullshitter of the first water. It may have started out true, but it's so full of baroque embellishments that its surreal.
He's the very definition of the "unreliable narrator." His entire career is built on his ability to tell amusing whoppers.
There's no doubt that there's plenty of autobiographical material in A Christmas Story -- but if there was a lamp that inspired the "leg lamp," you can rest assured that it was just a lamp that was gaudy in a less spectacular way -- but Shepherd's style is, "And he brought home this tacky lamp. Look, when I say this was a tacky lamp, you have to understand: It was really tacky. You know those sexy hula girl lamps? Elegant and refined, by comparison. This was not a lamp for the connoisseurof illuminating artifacts that is capable of appreciating the subtle beauty of a hand-painted celluloid hula girl lamp, complete with coloured cellophane simulating an authentic grass skirt and which rustles when the gyrating mechanism is engaged. No, this was a lamp for men who like to get to the point. It was a leg. Not just any leg, though -- this was modeled on Betty Grable's left leg, and has the distinction of being 1 : .9 scale. When this lamp was in the room, you knew it, let me tell you. Anyway, like I was saying, he came home with this lamp, and..."
That really does a disservice to Shep's style, but it might give you the general sense of how he tells a story.
12-09-2005, 12:11 AM
Great responses, all. Thanks!
12-09-2005, 11:14 AM
IOW, they were about as common as yellow eyes, right?
Spectre of Pithecanthropus
12-09-2005, 01:00 PM
I would compare the leg lamp from A Christmas Story with the belly clock statuette in Father Of The Bride--regarding which, I suspect strongly that the same prop was used in both the original FOTB starring Spencer Tracy and the newer one with Steve Martin.
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