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The Disney Channel broadcast this movie in the mid 80's. They added an introduction that features Jean Shepherd driving to South of the Border, a fireworks store in South Carolina, in a Rolls Royce. My father recorded the movie from the Disney Channel, so we are fortunate to be able to watch it every year. I haven't tried this, but you might want to contact the Disney Channel and see if they still have a copy. What a great film! Good luck.
Very funny program dealing with Matt Dillon as a teen in small town America. It is the fourth of July and what appears to be the town drunk staggers into town and sets off an enormous fire cracker that proceeds to chase a small band of children like in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. Mother is on a chain list to receive wash rags through the mail. Dillon must endure a blind date to the movies and the high school band's pride and joy, the band leader who knows how to throw the baton, has his day as well. I only saw this once and that has been nearly twenty years ago now, when it aired on PBS. What a funny show this was. Would love to see it again.
Yes, Jean Shepherd fans will easily recognize the familiar characters
established warmly in the classic movie "A Christmas Story". Ralph and
his brother Randy have survived grade school, living with Mom and "The
Old Man" and hurdling the obstacles of 1930's Teenagerhood in Hohman
This is the definitive Fourth of July movie, an encapsulation of several of Sheps fondest stories from his days on the radio. The movie climaxes with the "Ballad of Ludlow Kissel" sung and performed by Sheps late wife and co-writer, Leigh Brown. If you can find it on DVD, or VHS, it is worth the effort.
This is a gem that deserves to be reintroduced to the American Public. Thanks Shep for the stories, and Exclesior, You Fatheads!
Another classic story about mid-century America by the writer of A Christmas Story, Jean Shepard. This time Ralphie is a teenager, played by a young Matt Dillon. The story is a tapestry of hillarious episodes woven as only Ralphie/Jean Shepard can tell them. James Broderick, Matthew's late father, plays the "old man" again. Ralphie has a wacky blind date with Flick and two unsuspecting girls. Watch out for Ludlow Kissel, the "extra board" switchman, and his passion for inventing new fireworks, and the classic Shepard running gag about the "Washrag Chain Letter". Last seen on PBS in the 1980s, if you can find a copy anywhere, it's a must see.
Good family fun from the late Jean Shepherd, better known as writer/narrator of "A Christmas Story". This story comes from the same book, "In God We Trust", and focuses on Jean as a midwestern teen (played by a young Matt Dillon). Best moments are the blind date and the 4th of July spectacular. Catch it when it's played, as it's rarely if ever shown on TV.
From start to finish Jean Shepherd's voice carries us through a marvelously nostalgic and hilarious remembrance of one small-town, American Fourth of July that lives in his memory. Matt Dillon plays the young Shepherd brilliantly and the momentum of the story gathers and builds to a completely marvelous ending which resonates in your mind for hours. This is the best kind of humor, rooted in reality but viewed with the skewed perspective of a true humanist who is totally aware of and who thoroughly enjoys the folly and foibles of human nature...in this case, the nature of American citizens out to enjoy themselves. James Broderick (Matthew's father) is truly wonderful as the father and is an actor I sorely miss. I wish he had had a longer career or that I had started watching him sooner. (Watch for the "face cloths" and the "lamp"...you'll have a real good time.) This one is a winner! It may be hard to find as it doesn't play on TV much, if at all.
This is a gem, a real piece of Americana. It should be released as DVD in single film format and then it should also be released as at least a 2 or 3 movie set. The purely American character of each of the films is touching, and for those of us who lived in the United States in the immediate post-war years, it is specific to our experiences as we watched our parents try to adapt to that life. It has been 25 years since I have seen this movie---it has become a fond memory of mine and each time I see A Christmas Story, I am regretful that its companion stories have been left on the shelf. The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters needs to be offered to us now---our thirst for it is overwhelming.
I have not seen this since I stumbled upon it almost 20 years ago at age 11. A very clever film highlighting major events in a few months of a teenager's life in Indiana (as i remember it). I think the self-narration and exaggerated dream/narration sequences were groundbreaking humor at the time, used now by everything from The Wonder Years to Ally McBeal. No clue where I could get a copy of this now. Perhaps PBS will show it again.
This follow-up to the achingly funny Phantom of the Open Hearth does
not disappoint in the least with its subversively good natured look at
the Fourth of July according to Jean Shephard. Shephard again narrates
a story of growing up in his Midwestern Indiana home around the
oppressive presence of fire eating, smoke belching steel mills with
nostalgic comic resignation. As in the last film the story centers
around an American rite of passage along with a variety of funny
subplots involving the devious or otherwise machinations of a drunk and
a drum major, a blind date of life changing proportion and an infinite
amount of wash clothes.
Director Richard Bartlett follow much of the same style that infused Hearth with a combination of comic hyperbole and bittersweet existence all tempered by the teen glee of Jean Shephard's narration. James Broderick and Mary Bolton as the parents are back giving superbly understated performances while newcomer Matt Dillon shines as the narrator in his youth botching his blind date with cringing results.
A Christmas Story by Shephard was turned into a minor film by a Hollywood studio in 83 and has since attained an amazing cult status and justly so. But for my money 4th of July along with Hearth do Shephard and his story more justice because they are more subtle, less in a hurry to get the big laugh and have James Broderick.
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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