American Playhouse (1981– )
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The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters 

Matt Dillon plays a young Jean Shepherd (author and narrator of A Christmas Story). Through Matt, Shep tells several humorous stories about his teen years in an Indiana steel town.





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Episode credited cast:
Barbara Bolton ...
Babe Sargent ...
Ludlow Kissel
Jeff Yonis ...
Schwartz (as Jeffery Yonis)
Lisa Jacobsen ...
Jay Ine ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John Blood ...
Christopher Childs ...
Arnie Cox ...
Frank Dolan ...
Mr. Dirks
Ruth Edinburg ...
Mother at Picnic
Dana Hardwick ...
Andrea McCullough ...


Matt Dillon plays a young Jean Shepherd (author and narrator of A Christmas Story). Through Matt, Shep tells several humorous stories about his teen years in an Indiana steel town.

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Release Date:

16 March 1982 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The High School band featured a real band - The Chelmsford High School Marching Band from Chelmsford, Massachusetts. The movie was filmed in and around the Boston Area. The scene with the practice of the band was filmed in South Boston (those familiar with landmarks will recognize a few). While the band was practicing, dust was thrown into fans to create a "dust bowl" effect as the movie takes place in Indiana. See more »


Features Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) See more »


Ballad of Ludlow Kissel
Sung by Leigh Brown
See more »

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User Reviews

The finest Jean Shepherd film ever.
17 July 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Great American 4th of July reigns supreme as the best of the Jean Shepherd films, including A Christmas Story. It is a very rarely seen creation of Shep from the American Playhouse series of films with PBS, never ommercially released, but blessedly is now on you tube in sequential parts. This is a MUST SEE by any fan of A Christmas Story, Jean Shepherd, or Matt Dillon for that matter. Dillon can't be a day over 16 in this when he played Ralphie, older here than in the Christmas Story setting, but better than Dillon, the great James Broderick plays "The Old Man" to such a fine degree that lovers of Darren McGavin's performance might change their loyalty.

The film loosely revolves around the 4th of July and more of Shep's stories, but its joy is the simple, classic Shepherd narrative story telling and characterization. That Dillon and Broderick starred in this glorious piece firmly places it in the ranks all time no-budget glory. They are perfect. The film is perfect. Plot matters not at all as does the sheer urgency of seeing it. It's another amalgam of Shep's stories which are welded together in film. It's all brilliant, touching, hilarious, and so wonderful. You may find yourself repeating "Hi Ralph!" after watching, for the rest of your days, and that would be a good thing.

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