A Critically-Panned Raunchy Comedy Paved The Way For A Christmas Story To Get Made

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The holidays, in general, are about family. Spending time with family, appreciating family, and also, getting really sick of family after an afternoon listening to that one crazy uncle rant just a little too long about god knows what this time. But that sense of family leads to wanting to watch family-friendly, wholesome content, which is no doubt part of why “A Christmas Story” is on TV around the clock every December. It’s become a genuine classic, beloved enough to have been added to the National Film Registry. Not bad for a movie about a little kid just hoping to get a BB gun for Christmas.

Along the way, Ralphie — our protagonist — gets into mischief with his friends, drops an F-bomb in front of his old man, and gets a little too into his father’s major award (that just happens to be shaped like a woman’s leg). Come to think of it, maybe “A Christmas Story” isn’t quite as wholesome as we always thought. And that makes sense, given one of the raunchiest, horniest, most depraved teen sex comedies in Hollywood history helped get the movie made in the first place. We’re talking, of course, about “Porky’s.”

On the surface, “A Christmas Story” and “Porky’s” couldn’t be more different, but the connection between them is crucial. It’s fair to say that without “Porky’s” we’d never have gotten to see Peter Billingsley’s Ralphie rocking those pink bunny pajamas (or the many, many sequels), and — truly — what a shame that would have been.

A Hollywood Flop Got Bob Clark’s Foot In The Door

“A Christmas Story,” based on the largely autobiographical writings of Jean Shepherd (who also provides the narration as grown-up Ralphie), was sitting in a bit of limbo, despite director Bob Clark working hard to get a studio to bite. He wasn’t a particularly well-known commodity at the time. Clark had done a bit of directing, but it was mostly schlock in the late ’60s and early ’70s. When he was trying to get “A Christmas Story” made he was, at that point, arguably best known for a much different holiday film, the 1974 sorority slasher “Black Christmas.

But then, something unexpected happened: one of his trashier movies managed to enter the cultural zeitgeist. That movie was “Porky’s.” Despite critical vitriol, “Porky’s” became a giant success (and managed to spawn two sequels and, astonishingly, a video game). After all, the horny teens featured in the film weren’t that different than the horny teens in the real world, who were more than happy to fork over a couple of bucks to watch big-screen depravity. Finally, Clark had enough clout to get his pet project made. As he said in the book “A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic“: 

“Porky’s has allowed me to make studio films without having to sacrifice any of the freedom or control I had as an independent. At an earlier stage, I would have been forced to make unacceptable creative compromises — but not now.”

It’s almost impossible to believe that a movie featuring high school guys spying on girls in the shower is largely responsible for giving us “A Christmas Story,” but then we think back to the way Ralphie fondled that leg lamp, and, well … sometimes things just make sense.

Read this next: The 50 Best Christmas Movies Of All Time, Ranked

The post A Critically-Panned Raunchy Comedy Paved The Way For A Christmas Story To Get Made appeared first on /Film.

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