A CHRISTMAS STORY (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 12, 2008 by  

“A Christmas classic that looks good on Blu-ray.  Not light years ahead from the 20th Anniversary DVD release in terms of picture quality but nevertheless, marginally better.  But for Christmas classics, this is one of those films that you just own because you can watch it with the family during the Holidays.  If you are still hanging on to that old VHS copy, definitely make the move to Blu-ray.”


COMPANY: Warner Home Video

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/1:85:1 16×9, Dolby Digital: English 1.0 and Francais 1.0

DURATION: 93 minutes

Directed by Bob Clark

Screenplay by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown & Bob Clark

Based on the Novel “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash” by Jean Shepherd

Produced by Rene Dupont and Bob Clark


Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin and Peter Billingsley

The Christmas spirit isn’t served up with more heartfelt warmth or observant hilarity than in this beloved adaption of Jean Sheperd’s holiday story.  In 1940’s Indiana, nine-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) dreams of his ideal Christmas gift; a genuine Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle.  But when gruff dad (Darren McGavin) and doting mom (Melinda Dillon) regularly respond with “You’ll shoot your eye out!”  Ralph mounts a full-scale, hint-dropping, Santa-begging campaign.  He also endures a slew of calamities from snowsuit paralysis to the yellow-eyed Scotty Farkus affair to the dreaded tongue-on-a-frozen-flagpole gambit.  We triple-dog-dare you to unwrap a more welcome Yuletide classic!

“A Christmas Story” is one of those classics that you feel, needs to be watched every Holiday season.  I can remember watching this film a jillion times as a child and now having the opportunity to share the film with my kids.

Despite being a low-budget film at that time, what made this film become a classic is that, it’s a Christmas story of an American family in the 1940’s.  Ralphie is a child who listens to Orphan Annie on the radio, reads comic books and wants a Red Ryder Air Gun for Christmas.

But of course, how can he convince his parents to buy him one when his mother thinks he’ll shoot his eye out.  So, you get to see how Ralphie tries to get the gun by trying to get a good grade on his school report, to planting an ad in his mother’s favorite magazine and even going to the mall and talking to Santa.

But the magical part of this film are its characters.  Every character from Ralphie’s family to his friends, everything comes together quite well.  From his father who wins an award which is a leg (in fishnet stockings) lamp, his friends being bullied by Scotty Farkus, his brother who is overly dressed in his snowsuit, his friend sticking his tongue on a pole to see if it would get stuck and much more.

So, back in 2003, this film received a 20th Anniversary DVD treatment and in 2006, was followed up by its first Blu-ray release.  Then sure enough, with the 25th Anniversary Ultimate Edition which had a special bundled edition in which people could own a miniature version of the leg lamp (ala string leg lamp lights for the Christmas tree) and the film on Blu-ray or get a version without the lamps.

There is no difference with the 2008 Blu-ray version versus the 2006 version.


The video is featured in 1080p High Definition/16×9, 1:85:1.  The Blu-ray is marginally better than the DVD version.  But you can notice the quality of it’s clearness via Blu-ray.  You’ll have parts on the film which look soft and nicks and scratches from the film.  But I compared my old VHS version to the Blu-ray and oh my, the Blu-ray is light years ahead of it in quality.  For an older film, having been remastered already, I don’t really think we are going to get anything better than what we have on Blu-ray.  But it still looks good.


The audio is Dolby Digital 1.0 in English and French.  I doubt we will see a TrueHD for this and since it’s mostly dialogue and because of its time setting and how old this film is, I suppose I’m not too bothered by this.  It’s one of those films that I’m not begging for surround sound.  So, I’m actually OK with it being 1.0.


I’ve owned the first DVD version which had nothing in terms of special features, I didn’t own the 20th Anniversary but as for this Blu-ray it includes:

  • Commentary by Peter Billingsley and Director/Co-Writer Bob Clark – This commentary was actually quite fun to listen to.  You get a lot of Billingsley asking questions to Bob Clark about certain scenes, working with different individuals and also talking about the film and its reception from viewers in the last 20 years.  His relationship with working with Jean Shepard and much more.  There are some times where they are watching the film and don’t say anything but I think both were pretty much rewatching the film for its entirety probably in a long time.  One scene I wondered about was the parade which featured Mickey Mouse.  I always wondered how Mickey could show up on an MGM film and sure enough Clark explains how Disney allowed it.
  • 20th Anniversary Documentary “Another Christmas Story” – This documentary features Bob Clark, Peter Billingsley and the guys who play his two buddies and the guy who plays Farkus.  Each talking about their experiences, the pole and tongue scene and how people react to them to this day and how people have memorized the lines.  And learning how a lot of detergent was used to re-create some of those snow scenes.
  • Daisy Red Ryder – This was an interesting featurette on the actual Daisy Red Ryder Air Rifle.  How it was created for the film and the actual company who produces air guns.
  • Get a Leg Up – This one is a infomercial like featurette of the leg lamp.  Nothing major.
  • Script Pages – This features the script of actual scenes that were cut.  Clark talks about several scenes that they didn’t use in the film.  I wish they still had that and offered the videos as a deleted scene (especially the Ralphie/Flash Gordon scenes) but you can read the script of what was cut.
  • Trailer – And looking at the trailer, it looks so old in terms of picture quality after watching it on Blu-ray.

For me, “A CHRISTMAS STORY” is like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and even “Home Alone”.  Films that are Christmas classics that you just want to watch with the family during the holidays.

“A CHRISTMAS STORY” has been a part of so many families holiday’s within the last 20 years and remains one of the classics next to “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Charlie Brown Christmas” (and other classics) shown every year and watched by many.  It’s a true-to-heart tale and the way it’s written, it’s not fluffy, it’s the life of a young boy who wants a Christmas present but his parents are not exactly “Brady Bunch”, magical parents.  Blue collar father with a temper, mother who does her best to take care of the kids and a time in the 1940’s of decoder rings and Ovaltine.

If you own the 20th Anniversary DVD, really…you don’t need to buy this.  But if you are like me and you own the first DVD version with no special features or the VHS version, then yeah, moving up to Blu-ray is a great decision.  It’s marginally better in picture quality than the DVD and you get all the special features as well.

Overall, it’s a Christmas classic worth owning.

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