Friday, January 7, 2011

Jean Shepherd - Not On DVD

I'm both surprised and disappointed that the release of Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story on virtually every format (DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, with the 'Ultimate Collector's Edition' which was released on Blu-Ray Nov. 4th 2008, which features the same 2006 Blu-ray disc but in a metal tin which also includes a strand of Leg Lamp Christmas lights) and it running 24 hours straight on TBS during Christmas time, hasn't spurred the availability of Jean Shepherd's other (made for TV) movies.

Peter Billingsley then and now.
Even the soundtrack from A Christmas Story was released for the first time in late 2009 by Rhino Records.

A Christmas Story was playing when the theater I went to back in those days turned into a twin on November 18, 1983. Chances are I saw it in the theater there as well!

The Christmas Story House in Cleveland, transformed into a near-replica of the movie set, opened to the public on November 25, 2006.

The only other Jean Shepherd film available on DVD is My Summer Story (aka It Runs In The Family) from 1994, starring Kieran Culkin as Ralph, and Charles Grodin and Mary Steenburgen as the parents. This film is intended as a direct sequel to A Christmas Story, even though Kieran Culkin was technically younger (11) than Peter Billingsley in a Christmas Story (12) when My Summer Story was released in theaters. It's far from a classic like A Christmas Story, but worth watching nonetheless.

I'd really like to see Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven Of Bliss (with Jerry O'Connell as Ralphie) from 1988 be released on DVD.
Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss originally aired numerous times on the Disney Channel beginning August 6, 1988, shortly thereafter on PBS nationwide, and was released by Walt Disney Home Video on VHS in 1993. As of 2011 it has not been released on DVD.

I'd also like to see Phantom of the Open Hearth circa 1976,

Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters circa 1982 (Matt Dillon as Ralphie),

and The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski circa 1983

all be made commercially available on DVD for the first time in their existence.

Currently one of the only ways you can see them is by purchasing them from for $30 from a guy who transfers them onto DVD from old VHS recordings.

These films are also available from other sellers, who also include Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven Of Bliss (out of print but still owned by Disney), although as far as who's selling the best quality transfer I do not know. As far as we know they could all be using the same transfer and throwing in a VHS transfer of Ollie Hopnoodle as added incentive.
Here's the box cover for a four-movie set from for $25

and a box cover for a four-movie set from for $45

Although the cast of Jean Shepherd's six films changed often, and the main character of Ralph was played by someone different each time around, there were a few actors/actresses who reprised their roles.
Both the actress who played the Mother (Barbara Bolton) and the actor who played Flick (William Lampley) held their roles throughout all three early Jean Shepherd films Phantom of the Open Hearth, The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters and the Star Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski.
The Old Man was played by James Broderick in both Phantom of the Open Hearth and The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters.
The actors who played Randy (Jay Ine) and Schwartz (Jeffrey Yonis) held their roles in both The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters and the Star Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski.
The actress who played Miss Shields, Tedde Moore, was the only onscreen character from A Christmas Story who was played by the same actor in the sequel, My Summer Story.

The Director of A Christmas Story, Bob Clark, was known for kick-starting the slasher genre in the 70's, and also directed Porky's (and it's sequel), which is credited as launching the genre of the teen sex comedy.
Tragically, Director Bob Clark and his youngest son were killed on April 4, 2007, in a head-on car crash with a drunk driver.

Scott Schwartz who played Flick in A Christmas Story, and starred in The Toy with Richard Pryor a year prior, decided to stick his tongue on other foreign objects and flirted with the adult film industry for a brief time, appearing in such titles as Scotty's X-Rated Adventure and Dirty Bob's Xcellent Adventures, among others.

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