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The Christmas Story Movie & Trains

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December 25, 2011 10:19 AM

Good Morning and Merry Chirstmas Everyone. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I'm watching the movie The Christmas Story, you know the one they run non-stop from Christmas Eve thru Christmas Day. I love this movie as it brings back a lot of memories of when I was a young lad about the same age as the guys in the movie. I can remember going to the depatrment stores here in town and seeing the large window displays with the Lionel trains running all around and then you could mosey on over to the toy department and see the Lionel display layouts that they would have up and running for the Christmas season. Unfortunately, my dad never gave me a Lionel train set for Christmas, he was into HO scale himself and so I got Atheran HO train sets for my trains. My uncle at my grandmothers house, had what I always wanted and we would play with them all night and day. We must have run the wheels off of them, but it was such a great time.
My question to the members is simply can you all tell me what trains were represented in the shots shown in the movie at the beginning? I'm sorry I'm not all that familiar with all the early train sets and locomotives and cars that were avilable during those time back in the late 40's and early 50's. I'd like to try and see if I could find some of those. What do you guys suggest I look for?
Thanks for your help, it is most appreciated.

J. Motts
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JEM

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December 25, 2011 10:26 AM

kmart has christmas story houses on sale at the moment.
 

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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December 25, 2011 10:42 AM

quote:
Originally posted by J. Motts:
My question to the members is simply can you all tell me what trains were represented in the shots shown in the movie at the beginning? I'm sorry I'm not all that familiar with all the early train sets and locomotives and cars that were avilable during those time back in the late 40's and early 50's.
J. Motts
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I know one of them is the Lionel Union Pacific M 10000 Streamliner. Not sure about the others.

This One
 

TCA, LCCA

 
 
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December 25, 2011 10:51 AM

I am watching the movie right now. Love it. I believe one of the Engine's is a 736 Berkshire or 2055 Baby Hudson. My eyes are not as good as they were a few years back. But, I know some members on the Forum can give the right answer to your question.

I know Ralphie wants that Red Rider Rifle, for me, give me the Lionel Trains in that display window.

Many thanks, & Merry Christmas.

Billy C
 
 
 
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December 25, 2011 7:24 PM

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December 25, 2011 7:25 PM

Just finished watching the movie on WTBS. It's my favorite Christmas movie. The freight cars look to new for the time period the movie was set in. But who cares!
 
 
 
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December 25, 2011 9:57 PM

Yes, there's a piggyback flat car that Lionel didn't make until the 50's and the caboose is wrong also. There was an in depth discussion about this a few years back. Also, seems there were many more "train in the store window" scenes that were left out due to time constraints. The exact date the movie represents can be seen on the decoder disc Ralphie uses in the bathroom. You have to freeze frame it on a DVD player. It says 1938 or 1939 - can't remember which due to Christmas schnapps.

 
 
 
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December 25, 2011 10:05 PM

It's my understanding the movie was supposed to be set in the Postwar 40's... more toward the late 40's. However, I could be wrong!

Andre
 
 
 
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December 26, 2011 5:23 AM

"Ralphie, a young boy growing up in the '40's, dreams of owning a Red Rider BB gun."
 

 

Allan Miller, Editor-In-Chief O Gauge Railroading magazine

 
 
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December 26, 2011 7:23 AM

The decoder ring and the Wizard of Oz references make me believe the movie is set in late 1939 or 1940. No mention of WWII makes me believe it isn't set any later than 1940.
 
 
 
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December 26, 2011 7:44 AM

quote:
Originally posted by BARailroad:
Just finished watching the movie on WTBS. It's my favorite Christmas movie. The freight cars look to new for the time period the movie was set in. But who cares!


I agree.

One has to remember, Christmas Story is about Ralphie, his family, his adventures, the Red Rider and the Major Award.

Not about the trains that appear briefly in the store window.

Rusty
 
 
 
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December 26, 2011 8:30 AM

quote:
One has to remember, Christmas Story is about Ralphie, his family, his adventures, the Red Rider and the Major Award.
Not about the trains that appear briefly in the store window.


Exactly! Applies to all the other props used as well. It is a movie about nostalgia, and has perhaps the most meaning for those of us who grew up in or around the general era depicted. The specific time frame matters not at all. Other "youngsters" born in the 60s and beyond can nit-pick the various scenes or props to death, but the true spirit, significance, and overall relevance of the film's message comes through easily enough to those of us who lived in the late 30s, 40s and early 50s, in particular. Virtually all of us from that general period can relate to certain segments of the film's story line without any difficulty whatsoever.
 

 

Allan Miller, Editor-In-Chief O Gauge Railroading magazine

 
 
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December 26, 2011 8:30 AM

The short story that this movie is based on, comes from Jean Shepherd's collection: "In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash"

In the conclusion of the book when the reminiscing friends call it a day, Shepherd (Ralph) mentions that their friend Schwartz, was ". . . shot down over Italy. They never found the body."

The book makes it clear that this is the depression, just prior to WW2.

For all the rivet counters who want perfection in an ephemeral movie:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085334/trivia?tab=gf
 
 
 
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December 26, 2011 9:24 AM

quote:
Originally posted by InsideTrack:
The short story that this movie is based on, comes from Jean Shepherd's collection: "In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash"

In the conclusion of the book when the reminiscing friends call it a day, Shepherd (Ralph) mentions that their friend Schwartz, was ". . . shot down over Italy. They never found the body."

The book makes it clear that this is the depression, just prior to WW2.



I guess that settles that.
 
 
 
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December 26, 2011 9:30 AM

Here you go for all you rivet counters!

quote:
Dating the story

Director Bob Clark stated in the film's DVD commentary that he and author Shepherd wished for the movie to be seen as "amorphously late 30s, early 40s," but a specific year is never mentioned. However, the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring has the year 1940 etched in on the side.
 

 

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December 26, 2011 5:02 PM

Thanks Guys, for all of the information and comments. As to the time frame of this movie, I figured it was sometime around the very early 40's. As for me, I was born in August of 1948 and was introduced to trains from the get-go as my dad worked for the SP as a signal maintainer. when I was about 4 or so my mom would take me out to a siding North of town called Plain Port and we would meet my dad and he would let me ride to town with him on his speeder. Like I said earlier, my dad was into HO scale and that was what I got for Christmas. I do remember as plain as day going down and viewing the trains in the store windows and in the garden area of Sears to watch the big layout they had set up and wishing I would get a Lionel for Christmas. Now its time for me to give myself those presents I never got, therefore the reason for the questions.

For the gentlemen named laming, is this none other than Mr. Andre Ming that used to be in Sn3 at one time? If so Andre, please contact me off list at sptrainnut@att.net.

Thanks again guys, I appreciate all the help.

J. Motts
sptrainnut
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JEM

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December 26, 2011 7:59 PM

Allan Miller quoted:

quote:
"Ralphie, a young boy growing up in the '40's, dreams of owning a Red Rider BB gun."


Where did you get that quote Allan? Is that on the DVD cover? If so, then like many books-to-films, the book content/era was tampered with again for the making of the film.

J. Motts said:

quote:
For the gentlemen named laming, is this none other than Mr. Andre Ming that used to be in Sn3 at one time? If so Andre, please contact me off list at sptrainnut@att.net.


Agghhh!! I've been found out!!!

Email sent.

Andre
 
 
 
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December 26, 2011 8:03 PM

"The movie's fictional BB gun, described as the "Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time", does not correspond to any model in existence nor even a prototype; the Red Ryder featured in the movie was specially made to match author Jean Shepherd's story (which may be artistic license, but was the configuration Shepherd claimed to remember). However, the "Buck Jones" Daisy air rifle, immediately above the Red Ryder in the Daisy line, did have a compass and sundial in the stock, but no other features of the "Red Ryder" model. The guns and a stand-up advertisement featuring the Red Ryder character appeared in a Higbee's store window in the film, along with dolls, a train, and Radio Flyer wagons."

As noted above it's called artistic license. Often used in films, books, and other such entertainment-oriented media.

If you're looking for historical accuracy in this entirely fictitious story and film, you're going to be awfully disappointed. When I view the film, I see it for what it is, and I delight in the many memories it conjures up.

Smile
 

 

Allan Miller, Editor-In-Chief O Gauge Railroading magazine

 
 
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December 26, 2011 8:13 PM

there was a layout in the store which was never used in the movie. someone who worked on it (i think) posted photos in that big discussion a couple of years ago.
 

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December 26, 2011 10:04 PM

Allan:

Nope, I'm not looking for meticulous detail to some given era, I simply enjoy the movie for what it is. Actually, given the ongoing discussion others were having about the era of the movie, I am now curious as to where your quote came from. If from the DVD, then obviously the movie is supposed to represent a time in the 1940's regardless what the original book depicted.

You still haven't sourced your quote. DVD cover?

Andre
 
 
 
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December 26, 2011 10:06 PM

What I really like about "A Christmas Story" is that there's stuff in the movie that everybody who was a kid from the late 1930's to the mid 1950's can relate to, whether it was Ralphie's Red Ryder BB gun or Randy's toy Zeppelin or Dad doing battle with the cranky coal furnace. If you nit-pick it to death (like in Allan's IMDB link, LOL) you spoil the pleasant nostalgia trip that's the whole theme of the movie.
BTW, I'm betting everybody on this forum over the age of 40 remembers those green A-B-C penmanship cards on the walls of their grade school classrooms. Big Grin
 
 
 
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December 26, 2011 11:33 PM

Shep was America's last great storyteller (hopefully not THE last, but no one has risen to the throne since). To hear him spin another tale, I would look at Marx trains in a movie about 1999 or HO sound units in a movie about 1925... it is Shep, baby. Nothing else matters.

I wish I could have purchased everyone in the world tickets to see him live. We'd all be better off with a little Jean Shepherd in our lives.


I cut my teeth at a model railroad club as a lad in the 1970's, working on trains and listening to Shep on the AM. Nothing better... Always wanted Mom to pick me up after Shep had started. Rarely got to stay for the whole radio show.

Warm memories...
 
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December 26, 2011 11:59 PM

For those of you looking to see what the Dept. 56 A Christmas Story buildings look like. I have a complete? set on my Christmas layout. More on the Layout contest thread. Also, if not previously stated. Lionel came out with a starter set a couple years back. Not very popular, can pick them up on the bay new for less than retail.
Set #6-30118

Here's a sample:





 

LCCA #30717

 
 
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December 27, 2011 12:35 AM

Having worked in the entertaiment biz for a short time in between working for the gov. I found out one thing that always stays clear in my mind.
A movie never closely follows a book or any part of history exactly or sometimes not even closely, what it does is follows what the producers want, and that is what they think will make money.
I believe the time peroid was intentionaly left to the viewers imagination, I believe this way one can insert his own time line in it to suit his time as a child which I thought was a good idea.
I saw a lot of my time as a child in the movie and this is why I believe the movie is such a hit, everyone sees a little of themselves in the movie.
MHO take it or leave it.
I like to look at it as the early fifty's and the trains in it help a lot with that outlook on it.
John
 
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December 27, 2011 12:57 AM

Images from the film. Anyone want to try and list all the trains.







 
 
 
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December 27, 2011 5:01 AM

quote:
I believe the time period was intentionally left to the viewers imagination, I believe this way one can insert his own time line in it to suit his time as a child....

Absolutely correct!
 

 

Allan Miller, Editor-In-Chief O Gauge Railroading magazine

 
 
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December 27, 2011 7:34 AM

Funny - I always thought it was more about post war US of A - but it doesn't matter. I watched it again this year Christmas eve [the 1st showing].

Years back - they had original cast members talk about the movie...I can't recall what year that occurred - it seemed it was an anniversary year of the film.

Peter Billingsly certainly still is a success. He is good friends with Vince Vaughn producing some of his movies. He was an executive producer for the first "Iron Man"...wow...kid did good!
 
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December 27, 2011 11:27 AM

By now I thought one of yinz car experts would have set the date by recognizing Ralphie's family automobile. What year was their car? Oh well....no matter... we have now learned the approximate time line.....BTW Jerry Nolan.....those letter cards that decorated most classrooms back then were part of the Peterson Penmanship System.....Now....how many of yinz remember...."round, round ready?..... write". This was the prescibed prompt our teachers would repeat when we practiced "pensmanship. Tom in Picksburgh
'.
 
Last edited by Tom Shirey December 28, 2011 7:08 AM
 
 
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December 27, 2011 11:43 AM

l always took it to be set n the Pre war perlod.
The Wlzard of Oz charatures
Randy's Zepplln toy
no mentlon of WWll
yeah the tralns are postwar but lt doesn't matter.
l fondly remember the letter cards ln the class room.
and l saw a Red Ryder Range model BB gun ln an antlque shop (no compass or tlme thlng) wlth the orlglnal box but dldn't get lt cause l dldn't flgure l could gwet lt on the plane home.
 

Dave

 

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December 27, 2011 12:15 PM

quote:
By now I thought one of yinz car experts would have set the date by recognizing Ralphie's family automobile. What year was their car?

Kind of hard to date things by the year the Ralphie family car was made. Years ago, people didn't buy a new car every couple of years or so. They held onto the family wheels for a good number of years and weren't stuck in that latest-and-greatest rut that you see so often followed today and in recent times.

Heck, I'm driving a 12-year-old car now and it has served me just fine--particularly in these nasty and unpredictable Ohio winters. I may go for something new this coming spring, but even that is something of a "maybe."
 

 

Allan Miller, Editor-In-Chief O Gauge Railroading magazine

 
 
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December 27, 2011 12:17 PM

The Hiawatha set is PREWAR!!!
 
 
 
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December 27, 2011 12:26 PM

heck Allen you've got a new car! my truck is 24 years old. l have a '69 and my Mrs '72 ln the garage. Her 2004 Dodge had alsmost 200000 mlles on lt! and we gotta love our Ohio winters...rlght?
 

Dave

 

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December 27, 2011 12:30 PM

The trains in the Higby's store appear to be a mix of both prewar and postwar; the Hiawatha and UP Streamliner are tinplate prewar (I believe), while the freight train hauls plastic postwar freightcars - and maybe even some MPC issues.
 
 
 
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December 27, 2011 7:38 PM

The master telling the tale on AM that woukd eventuslly become the movie...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p63ZKW7fVls&sns=em
 
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December 27, 2011 7:59 PM

quote:
Dating the story

Director Bob Clark stated in the film's DVD commentary that he and author Shepherd wished for the movie to be seen as "amorphously late 30s, early 40s," but a specific year is never mentioned. However, the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring has the year 1940 etched in on the side.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Story


I would say 1940 as 41 would of been a buzz about Dec 7th and the up coming war
 

Regards,

 

Gary

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December 28, 2011 1:04 AM

Notice the PCC cars passing by in the Christmas tree buying scene?

John
 

John

 

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December 28, 2011 2:01 AM

This movie is one of our all-time favorites. Can't get enough of the 24 hour marathon when it's on.

It's the subject of so many inside jokes in our family too. For example, any small misfortune of ours is usually chalked up to the Bumpuses. Sons a b*thces....
 

----Nick----

"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother."

 

 
 
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December 28, 2011 2:26 AM

Little brother Randy really liked his toy Zeppelin, so you figure the time frame is around 1937-38. But in another scene you hear "The Hut-Sut Song" from 1941 being played on the radio. OK, maybe it's set in WWII, but then Ralphie's family car should have a gas ration sticker in the window. But... what about Farkus's coon-skin cap? They weren't around until 1955 when the Davy Crockett craze started. Then there's that Little Orphan Annie decoder ring... My head hurts!Big Grin
 
 
 
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December 28, 2011 3:35 AM

quote:
Originally posted by InsideTrack:

In the conclusion of the book when the reminiscing friends call it a day, Shepherd (Ralph) mentions that their friend Schwartz, was ". . . shot down over Italy. They never found the body."

The book makes it clear that this is the depression, just prior to WW2.



But if he was shot down over Italy, then the earliest it could have been was 1943; most likely it would have been in/after July of 1943 when they invaded Sicily. Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, was in November of 1942 and the Americans were on the western half of the campaign in N. Africa, a good 600+ miles from Sicily. Even with drop tanks, American fighters couldn't reach that far. If they flew to interdict supplies brought in for the Axis, I doubt if they flew that far east until after Montgomery had defeated the Afrika Corp in mid 1943. BTW, Jimmy Doolittle was the American Army Air Force commander in Torch.

And the last thing the Americans wanted was to put an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. It was still a Nazi pond until very late 1943.

Of course, no one has ever accused Hollywood to be historically accurate.

Bill
 

 

 
 
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December 28, 2011 5:22 AM

quote:
Of course, no one has ever accused Hollywood to be historically accurate.


Just as well in this case. There are toys and other objects in this entirely fictional movie that anyone who grew up in the period of the late 1930s to the early 1950s can easily fondly remember and appreciate. And beyond the objects is a story line that presents family-oriented and peer-related situations that nearly all of us from that broad period can recall. For me, and I imagine for many others, watching this movie has become a wonderful Christmas season tradition.
 

 

Allan Miller, Editor-In-Chief O Gauge Railroading magazine

 
 
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