American Playhouse (1981– )
13 user

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.


Richard Bartlett


Jean Shepherd


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Episode credited cast:
Matt Dillon ... Ralph
James Broderick ... Dad
Barbara Bolton Barbara Bolton ... Mom
Babe Sargent Babe Sargent ... Ludlow Kissel
Jeff Yonis Jeff Yonis ... Schwartz (as Jeffery Yonis)
William Lampley ... Flick
Lisa Jacobsen Lisa Jacobsen ... Pamela
Jay Ine Jay Ine ... Randy
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John Blood John Blood ... John
Christopher Childs Christopher Childs ... Mailman
Arnie Cox Arnie Cox ... Ace
Frank Dolan Frank Dolan ... Mr. Dirks
Ruth Edinburg Ruth Edinburg ... Mother at Picnic
Dana Hardwick Dana Hardwick ... Ledbetter
Andrea McCullough Andrea McCullough ... Clara Mae


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) See more »

Also Known As:

Blixt och dunder See more »

Filming Locations:

Belmont, Massachusetts, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


"Promenade (Tourists on the Menu)" from the Jaws soundtrack by John Williams is used throughout the production. The mayor in Jaws was trying to avoid closing the beaches for the Fourth of July. See more »


Follows The Phantom of the Open Hearth (1976) See more »


Ballad of Ludlow Kissel
Sung by Leigh Brown
See more »

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User Reviews

Comic fireworks display.
25 December 2011 | by st-shotSee all my reviews

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.

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