A Christmas Story: Some Questions and an Observation (will contain spoilers)

NOTE: I will not be using the spoiler box in my OP. Anyone who hasn’t seen the movie has no business reading this thread.

Now, with that out of the way, I have a few questions (and an observation) about everybody’s (well, almost everybody’s) favorite Christmas movie, A Christmas Story. Some of the questions will deal with information that is more apparent in the book (In God We Trust; All Others Pay Cash). Other questions will deal with information that people who are familiar with that time period can supply. Therefore, students of history, those who have read the book, or people who lived throught that time period are most encouraged to respond.

  1. The Bully. I always heard his name as “Scott Farkas.” However, watching the DVD with the subtitles on, his name was “Scut Farkas.” What’s his name in the book? AND, what the hell kind of name is “Scut,” anyway???

  2. The kid who played Flik. IMDB lists him as Scottie Schwartz and says that he’s had a career in the adult film industry ( :eek: ). However, he looks for all the world like the kid known as Alistair (sp?) Gillis in You Can’t Do That on Television. IMDB doesn’t mention this. Anybody know the scoop? Are they the same kid acting under two names? Or are they just two boys (well, now they’re grown men) who are close in age who look remarkably alike?

  3. Dad draws a pan of hot water when his car won’t start. How does one use hot water to start a car on a cold morning? Pour it on the engine block?

  4. Ralphie’s Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Pin. Once he learns that the Big Secret Message is just a commercial for Ovaltine, he gets frustrated and (presumably) loses interest in further messages from Annie. However, did all messages from Annie say exactly the same thing (which would mean that the good people at Ovaltine invested quite a bit of money and effort in tricking gullible kids into “hearing” ONE commercial)? And on a side note, what was so special about “Little Orphan Annie” that she would hold the rapt attention of a ten-year-old boy?

  5. How many of the events that take place in the movie don’t actually take place around Christmas in the book? For example, dad’s “major award” could have happened any time of the year in the book, and might have been placed in the movie at Christmas simply because the movie needed more plot. The same could be said for the “FUDGE” incident, the Scut Farkas incident, etc.

An observation: I’ve noticed an error of continuity in the Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring scene. Let’s assume that this ring is simply two concentric rings; one ring with the letters A-Z and another with the numbers 1-26. This would give (26 * 26) combinations of cipher alphabets, depending upon where the rings were set at the start of each cipher. For example, if you set it at C-7, then throughout that day’s cipher 7 would equal C, 8 would equal D, and so on.

When Ralphie’s cipher begins, the voice on the radio tells them to set the rings to B-12. Then he gives the message, beginning with the number 2. However, when Ralphie deciphers the message, the first letter is a “B.” So 2 doesn’t equal B, because 12 equals B in this cipher.

I need to get out more…

  1. I don’t see the resemblance between Flik and Allistair. [and trust me, I’ve seen the movie lots, and LOVED that TV show] Flik will always be, to me, the kid that was in Kidco, which if I recall, I saw before I ever saw A Christmas Story. So I’m thinking they are not one and the same.

Haven’t read the book and I was born in the 70’s, so that limits my ability to answer your questions. But, as for #

Scott Schwartz did indeed take the vaunted and successful career path of child star to porn underling.

Alisdair Gillis is listed as a separate person in IMDB, which in all likelihood means he really is a separate person.
For a pictorial comparison:
Scott Schwartz
Alisdair Gillis

Definitely not the same person, but there is a resemblance.

There would only be 26 distinct settings. In your example, a setting of C-7 would be exactly the same as a setting of D-8. Also, there’s no reason the letters or numbers have to be in order on the ring. (I haven’t seen the movie for a few years, so I don’t remember if they show it closely enough to be able to tell.) Mixing the numbers up might make it a little bit harder to crack the code.

  1. It’s been a little while since I’ve read IGWTAOPC, but I have no recollection of it being Scut Farkas. I’ll check the book when I get home.

  2. I’ve seen an interview with Scotty Schwartz (or maybe it was just a porno outtake) where he briefly talked about being in A Christmas Story.

Dunno about 3 or 4. For #5, All I can say is that IGWTAOPC takes place in recent times as the author returns to his hometown and goes to the bar that his childhood friend (IIRC, Flick) runs and the scenes from the 50s are them reminiscing about events from back in the day. So it really isn’t a contiguous narrative and events are supposed to take place at different times. A lot of the movie is original stuff- the Red Rider BB Gun only takes up a small portion of the book and there’s chapters that were left out, like Ollie Hopnoodle’s fireworks or the china giveaway at the movie theatre. IMHO, one of the few times the movie was better than the book.

#4: The messages were all different. Sometimes ads, and sometimes patriotic. The adventures of Annie were not “girl” stories. They involved gangsters, kings, magicians, kidnappings, money, etc. Lots of exciting stuff. Kids weren’t as “segregated” back then. Everyone listened to everything.

#3: Yes, that can warm an engine, the reserve is true as well. YMMV

FWIW my cousin LOVES this movie and for Christmas I got him a Ovaltine decoder ring. Cost $2.50 plus two UPC codes from Ovaltine (example).

Interesting side note…Scut Farkas is played by Zack Ward whom people may recognize as the brother Dave Titus from the recently cancelled (and entirely hilarious) show Titus.

The guy looks pretty much close to how he did in 83. Even to the point where I saw him in a ET interview on the set where Chris Titus (the older brother) snuck up behind him and plopped a coonskin cap like he wore in the movie on him, screamed “FARKAS!”, then ran off as he tore after him.
and in response to mojo talking about the other chapters of the book, you will be happy to know that they did indeed film a ‘sequal’ so to speak with those included stories

My Summer Story

It really is very good with Charles Grodin as the old man.

Also from Jean Shephard’s childhood memories, Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss, made for TV (PBS), but out there on VHS.

I’ve got to strongly disagree with the assesment of “My Summer Story”- I thought it was terrible, lacking the charm that the first one. I haven’t seen Ollie Hopnoodle.

OK, here’s another question I just thought of: You’ll notice that there are black and white kids in Ralphie’s classroom in school. Would black and white kids have gone to school together in 1930’s Indiana?

Finally found my copy of IGWTAOPC last night- there was no Farkas in the book. The bully’s name was Grover Dill (who was the toadie in A Christmas Story) and there was no “toadie” in the book.

I’ll second that disagreement. I couldn’t even finish watching it it was so dull.