'Christmas Story' Director Bob Clark Dies
NOAH ADAMS, host:
It's DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Noah Adams.
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
I'm Alex Chadwick.
If the words you'll shoot your eyes out, kid - if those words mean anything to you, it's because you know the work of Bob Clark. He directed the 1983 cult classic, "A Christmas Story," and more than two dozen other movies. Bob and his son Ariel were killed yesterday in a car crash here in Southern California.
NPR's Alex Cohen has this remembrance.
ALEX COHEN: Long before "A Christmas Story," Bob Clark made another holiday film…
(Soundbite of movie, "Black Christmas")
(Soundbite of music)
COHEN: "Black Christmas" came out in December 1974. In the film, a psycho killer sneaks into a sorority house and starts killing off its residents.
(Soundbite of movie, "Black Christmas")
(Soundbite of a woman screaming)
COHEN: Clark directed several B horror flicks in his early career, including one called "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things." It featured this memorable quote, "Get out of the grave, Ellen. Get out of the grave and let an artist show you how to call a curse down on Satan." Yes, Bob Clark was a writer, too. His first box-office hit came in 1981 with "Porky's." Set in 1954, Porky followed a group of high school boys looking to lose their virginity.
Mr. HARRY KNOWLES (Film Critic, Ain'tItCoolNews.com): "Porky's" completely gave me the wrong idea of what high school was.
(Soundbite of laughter)
COHEN: Film critic Harry Knowles of the Web site Ain'tItCoolNews says many people may laugh off "Porky's" as the sleazy sex comedy, but Knowles sees something more.
Mr. KNOWLES: When he fetishizes the idea of a group of kids going out to have sex for the first time in their life, he did it as a fondness as opposed to a dirty thing.
COHEN: Shortly after, Clark made "Porky's II," then came the work for which he was best known, "A Christmas Story."
(Soundbite of movie "A Christmas Story")
Mr. JEAN SHEPHERD: (As Adult Ralphie) Over the years, I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. My personal preferences is for Lux, but I found Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor - heavy, but with just a touch of mellow smoothness.
COHEN: "A Christmas Story" was first released around Thanksgiving, but its shelf life was fragile. By December 25th, it had vanished from theaters. But it was picked up cable networks and in the years since, "A Christmas Story" has become an annual viewing tradition from many families. It even spurred sales of fishnet-clad leg lamps like the one featured in the film.
Mr. STEVE SIEDLECKI (Executive Director, A Christmas Story House and Museum): All our leg lamps are half lit, sort of, you know, having a flag at half staff.
COHEN: Steve Siedlecki is the executive director of the A Christmas Story House and Museum. It's located at the actual house Clark shot for the film. He says more than 32,000 visitors have come through so that they could recreate scenes from the movie. Siedlecki says Clark's gift was creating a film that appeals to so many generations.
Mr. SIEDLECKI: You have the grandparents who grew up in the '40s in which the movie takes place, and then you have the parents who actually grew up when the movie was coming out, and then they're bringing their kids…
COHEN: "A Christmas Story" earned Clark a Writer's Guild Award. He never won an Oscar, though he was nominated twice for a Razzie, the prize bestowed each year on Hollywood's worst flicks. Razzie's founder, John Wilson.
Mr. JOHN WILSON (Founder, The Razzie Awards): Bob Clark did give the world "A Christmas Story." But the karma of having done that, I'm not sure if it outweighs the karma of also having done "Rhinestone," the only musical that Sylvester Stallone ever did, and a little thing called "Karate Dog."
(Soundbite of movie, "Karate Dog")
Unidentified Man #1: He's wild. He's one of a kind.
Unidentified Man #2: Okay. I'm going to talk now. Whatever you do, try to remain calm.
(Soundbite of someone yelling)
COHEN: Wilson says Clark was a director for hire. Even he had to pay the bills.
Mr. WILSON: The trajectory of his career speaks to how short a memory span Hollywood has and how vicious they can be, you know, that this guy went from "A Christmas Story" to "Karate Dog." That's a pretty enormous drop off, I would say.
COHEN: Bob Clark was 67. Alex Cohen, NPR News.
(Soundbite of movie, "Rhinestone")
(Soundbite of song, "Drinkenstein")
Mr. NICK MARTINELLI (Actor): (Singing) Budweiser you created a monster, and they call him Drinkenstein.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.