Does anybody else remember Jean Shepherd, the writer and radio raconteur whose short story collection In God We Trust (All Others Pay Cash) inspired the holiday classic, A Christmas Story? Believe it or not, there's a second movie based on one of Shepherd's stories floating around out there nearly as funny as that other, better known tale.
It's called Phantom of the Open Hearth and it showed up on PBS in the mid-1970s. Based on Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories (And Other Disasters), it's the story of Ralphie Parker (yeah, the kid who wanted the Red Ryder BB gun), now a grown up eighteen years old preparing for the prom. He wants to invite Daphne Bigelow, the most beautiful girl in school, but winds up taking Wanda Hickey who wears thick glasses and smells vaguely of sauerkraut, but who sure is good at math! She's also willing to go with him, so she's got that going for her.
Along the way are a number of amusing episodes including the famous "leg lamp" business (a major award!) repeated in A Christmas Story, as well as two additional bits: the story of a neighbor who mail orders a do-it-yourself house from a kit (which people really used to do); and the continuing saga of the great dish giveaway at the local cinema, which turns into the gravy boat war for reasons I'll let you discover for yourself.
You can watch it right here if you want to:
Or you can just skip right over to the Katie Awards for 1983.
PICTURE (Drama) winner:The Right Stuff (prod. Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler) nominees: Must-See Drama:
PICTURE (Comedy/Musical) winner:A Christmas Story (prod. Bob Clark and René Dupont) nominees: Must-See Comedy/Musical:
PICTURE (Foreign Language) winner:El Norte (prod. Trevor Black, Bertha Navarro and Anna Thomas) nominees: Must-See Foreign Language:
ACTOR (Drama) winner: Al Pacino (Scarface) nominees:
ACTOR (Comedy/Musical) winner: Eddie Murphy (Trading Places) nominees:
ACTRESS (Drama) winner: Shirley MacLaine (Terms Of Endearment) nominees:
Named for Katie-Bar-The-Door, the Katies are "alternate Oscars"—who should have been nominated, who should have won—but really they're just an excuse to write a history of the movies from the Silent Era to the present day.
To see a list of nominees and winners as well as links to my essays about them, click here.
Remember: There are no wrong answers, only movies you haven't seen yet.
The Silent Oscars
And don't forget to check out the Silent Oscars—my year-by-year choices for best picture, director and all four acting categories for the pre-Oscar years, 1902-1927.
Look at me—Joe College, with a touch of arthritis. Are my eyes really brown? Uh, no, they're green. Would we have the nerve to dive into the icy water and save a person from drowning? That's a key question. I, of course, can't swim, so I never have to face it. Say, haven't you anything better to do than to keep popping in here early every morning and asking a lot of fool questions?