A Christmas Story

Question: I apologize for my original question, that is currently listed on MM, I was mistaken as to where in the film my question refers to, so please delete that question. That said, can someone answer this, please. Right before the lamp breaks, and right after Ralphie's mom fills her watering can in the sink, it really sounds like the "old man" yells, "You platypus nut-grabber". Is that what he's saying? I realize most of his "swearing" is actually nonsensical words and rants.

Answer: You are quite right about this. At one point, he does say "platypus nut-grabber." If you listen closely, you can hear it amongst all the ranting and raving.


Question: Why doesn't Ralphie's father realise he's the one who unintentionally taught his son how to cuss, much less buy his lame excuse?


Answer: Because it's a funny look at real life. It's common for parents to cuss around their children, then be shocked when the kids start using the language themselves.

Exactly right. My parents cussed quite a bit when I was a child, but the first time I ever swore in front of my mother, she thought I learned it from watching The Real World with my sister.

immortal eskimo

True. I'd forgotten I learned how to cuss from my folks.


Answer: I think he did know. When he tells Ralphie to get in the car after saying the bad word, he kinda laughs to himself. It's only after Mom razzes him about taking too long to change the tire that he decides to share that Ralphie swore.

Question: Why do the parents have two twin beds in their bedroom, instead of one double bed? I thought that was just a TV gimmick from the old days when they weren't allowed to show a man and woman in bed together. Did people really sleep like that, or was it just a production design decision for the film? The movie was made in the '80's after all.


Answer: It's most likely a reference to the twin-bed movie standards from the time in which the movie takes place (late '30s to early '40s).

Chosen answer: Many married couples did (and still do) sleep like this. For example, one may be a restless sleeper and not wish to disturb their partner. Or they may just prefer to sleep alone. It's all down to personal choice, I don't think there's a rule that says couples have to share a bed.


The original poster has never been married. It is seldom that husbands and wives continue sleeping in the same bed after the first couple years of marriage.

Charles Austin Miller

Very interesting... I know of only one couple that sleeps in different beds. That is because they are on different sleep schedules. I know many couples and we all sleep with our spouses. Don't get me wrong, if we get a hotel room that has 2 full or queen beds, we are sleeping in individual beds. But other then that, we sleep in our bed together.

"Seldom" is a bit of an overstatement - studies seem to suggest about 15-25% of couples sleep separately.

Studies? Could you provide a link to such studies? I speak from decades of knowing many, many happily-married couples, the overwhelming majority of whom sleep in separate beds and even separate rooms.

Charles Austin Miller

15 per cent of Britons said if cost and space were not an issue, they would sleep in a different bed to their partner: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/uk-couples-sleep-separate-beds-partner-yougov-survey-a8504716.html. A 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll found that nearly one in four American couples sleeps in separate beds or separate rooms: https://sleepfoundation.org/sites/default/files/subscription/sub003.txt. Clearly many couples do, but many don't. Certainly the vast majority of couples I know share a bed, regardless of how long they've been together. "Seldom" is I think overstating it. The majority of people you know may sleep separately, and more power to them! No right or wrong, but that doesn't appear to reflect the broader picture.

Answer: Very common, especially back in the first half of the 20th century, for couples to sleep in separate beds.

Question: Given Ralphie's mother said no to the gun then why would his father give him one? Surely this would start an argument between them.


Answer: This was more in the past than in today's culture, but it wasn't all that atypical for a husband to simply ignore his wife's opinions and wishes in many matters, including what would be an appropriate present for their children, particularly a boy.


Answer: Even though she was probably still against it, it was Christmas and most likely didn't want to upset Ralphie by taking the Red Ryder BB gun away from him so she let him keep it.

Question: Why did the Higbee store manager hire a mean and impatient Santa and his elves?

Answer: The Santa and the elves probably weren't mean when they were hired, but getting really agitated they had to go through so many kids seeing Santa right as the store was closing. They possibly were told to knock off at store's closing hour, and had other places to go or were not going to get overtime. At one point the store Santa tells one of the elves, "If Higbee thinks I'm working past nine he can kiss my foot!"


Question: Why can't Mr and Mrs Parker go next door to the Bumpus and tell them to control their dogs, so they won't bother them?


Answer: Who's to say they didn't? Ralphie describes the Bumpuses as 'hillbillies' so they might not care too much about controlling their animals or what they neighbors thought, and apparently the old man was the only one the dogs ever bothered so it would be hard to prove they were a general nuisance. Of course, the turkey incident might have tipped the scales.

Brian Katcher

Question: Why was Ralphie wearing his glasses at the Chinese restaurant? I thought he broke them when he shot himself.

Answer: He has another pair of glasses - his mom even says that he should just wear the other pair of glasses that he has with a little chip in them.

Answer: Like most people, (including kids) he had more than one pair of glasses.


Question: When Miss Shields is discussing the incident with Flick with the whole class, she looks accusingly at Ralphie as it's clear she's blaming him. Why would Miss Shields blame Ralphie considering he never made Flick stick his tongue to the pole, none of the other students said anything and even Flick refused to talk about who really made him do it?

Answer: Miss Shields is not blaming Ralphie. She has probably seen him and Flick together around the school grounds, so she knows that they are friends. Therefore, she suspects that he knows what happened.

When Miss Shields looks at Ralphie, she says, "Those who did it know they're blame." She then says" Now don't you feel terrible? Don't you feel remorse for what you have done?"

Exactly. She suspects Ralphie because she knows he and Flick are friends and that they are mischievous. It would not surprise her if Ralphie had something to do with it. She just can't prove it.


I agree. From the way she looks at Ralphie and what she says when looking at him, she's blaming him.

Question: There is a metal "something" on top on the radio in the living room of Ralphie's home. Can you tell me what it is?

Answer: It's a decorative metal bowl/vessel. They were fairly common in the 1930s. It's a bowing trophy bar set. I have one like it. http://garagesalin.blogspot.com/2010/08/bo-ling-or-happy-marriage.html.

Question: If they were constantly being bullied then why didn't Ralph and his friends tell their parents about their bully? That and why take the same route home if they knew that's where he'd be waiting for them?


Answer: Until recently, bullying wasn't taken very seriously. Also, school kids don't take very kindly to the idea of 'snitching.' Scut might have gotten in trouble if they'd told their parents, but in the long run, that might have made things worse for them. As for taking a different route home, it's possible he altered where he ambushed them or that he wasn't there every single day.

Brian Katcher

Thanks it's just that when Mad Magazine did their spoof of this I wondered this as did they.


Question: Was Ralphie's family poor? Their house and furnishings seem pretty low class, but they never seem stressed about money, and they have a fairly extravagant Christmas.

Answer: They weren't poor and appeared to live a fairly comfortable middle-class life within their modest means. They could probably afford to splurge a little on Christmas. People who went through the Great Depression during the mid-20th century tended to hang on to old items, even if they could afford new ones and, unlike today, had lesser interest in material possessions. My own parents grew up in that era and rarely bought anything new, no matter how dated or worn. Also, situations (like holidays, social gatherings, special events, etc.) tend to look a bit exaggerated in movies and TV for visual effect.


I've also noticed this among my family members who grew up in the '60s through the '80s. They don't buy new things if the older ones are just fine. Since the late 2000s, it's more common for people to think that possessions and decor need to be "updated."

Question: Why does Ralphie's father win a weird lamp instead of money and why is his mother jealous of it? Why not tell him how she feels about it? He might've listened.


Answer: The weird lamp was the prize, there was no cash prize. Just the hideous lamp. The mother is not jealous of the lamp at all, it is tacky and ugly and she doesn't want it displayed in her home. The dad only says she is jealous because he is being defensive and argumentative after the lamp is broken. The dad was very proud of his prize so telling him how she felt about it would hurt his feelings. Whether or not she intentionally broke the lamp is a mystery.


Question: Right after Ralphie takes off the Pink Bunny suit his aunt Clara made him, the camera pans on Ralphie's younger brother sleeping in midst of Christmas wrapping and opened gifts...at the upper right just above the kid's head is a head that looks just like Herman Munster (The Munsters TV series began in '63 I think) The story is supposed to be in the time 40's time frame. Doesn't it look just like Herman Munster?

Answer: That's not Herman Munster, it's the Frankenstein Monster. Specifically, it's Boris Karloff as the monster (from the original 1930s films), which is what Herman Munster was modelled after.

Answer: It's just a Frankenstein's monster mask, which Herman was anyways. I think a Herman Munster mask would have a bigger nose and a smile.


Question: Who sings "Jingle Bells" in the theatrical trailer?

Answer: Acording to IMDB there are several versions of Jingle Bells in the film: 01 Performed by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters 02 Performed by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians 03 (uncredited).


Question: At the Christmas parade, What is Mickey Mouse doing with Dorothy when all the Wizard of Oz Characters shoo him away?


Answer: He appears to be trying to either tickle her or "feel her up." Either way, it's unwanted and the other performers shoo him away.

Answer: It's unclear exactly what he was doing but it appears Mickey may have been a little too "up close and personal" with Dorothy, and the others are shooing him away.


Continuity mistake: When Melinda Dillon breaks the lamp, it is broken into many pieces, but when Darren McGavin is gluing it back together it is now in much fewer and bigger broken pieces. Obviously different broken lamps were used.

More mistakes in A Christmas Story

Dad: 'Fra-gee-lay', that must be Italian.

More quotes from A Christmas Story
More trivia for A Christmas Story

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