First Draft: Five Must-Read Classic Holiday Movie Screenplays

A Christmas Story (1983)

Based on the humorous writings of author Jean Shepherd, this beloved holiday movie follows the wintry exploits of youngster Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley), who spends most of his time dodging a bully (Zack Ward) and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a “Red Ryder air rifle.” Frequently at odds with his cranky dad (Darren McGavin) but comforted by his doting mother (Melinda Dillon), Ralphie struggles to make it to Christmas Day with his glasses and his hopes intact.

Essential Holiday Movie Elements

This is one of the rare holiday movies that uses nearly all of the essential elements we’ve featured. The nostalgia factor is centered around our childhood memories of how Christmas and the overall holiday season was growing up. While it is set in the 1940s, the film reminds us of our own childhood memories and the trials and tribulations of not only the anticipation of Christmas morning, but the overall coming-of-age times of yesteryear. We have the holiday atmosphere, Ralphie hoping to receive that coveted prize, the many tropes and cliches of holiday movies that audiences love (this movie actually created some of them), and one could argue that Ralphie attains some redemption after showcasing his obsession over the rifle as the heeded warnings of safety issues actually come to light. Ralphie nearly shoots his eye out and from that point on, Christmas is no longer about the rifle to him—it’s about family.

Interesting Screenplay Trivia

The nonsensical ramblings that Ralphie exclaims while beating up Scut Farkas were scripted, word for word.

Click here to read the screenplay for A Christmas Story.

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1 Comment

  1. Tom Luca

    December 15, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Love this article, Thank You very much and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season! Love reading MovieMaker. Only filmmaking magazine I read enthusiastically aside from American Cinematographer and Make-up Artist Magazine.

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