The Great American Fourth of July
July 4, 2011 by redtreetimes
I grew up reading the humor of Jean Shepherd, the man behind the movie, A Christmas Story, now a holiday staple around Christmas. I remember seeing his books in the library when I was just a teen and being pulled in by the titles, like Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.
Many of Shepherd’s stories about growing up in a small midwestern city were put together for a film in the early 1980′s. Called The Great American Fourth of July (and Other Disasters), it was shown on PBS and starred Matt Dillon as Shepeherd’s alter ego, Ralphie. If you’ve seen A Christmas Story the characters will be very familiar. It opens with Shepherd driving down I-95 approaching that iconic tourist trap, South of the Border in South Carolina, as an introduction to his 4th of July saga. Anyone who has ever made the trip north or south on 95 has witnessed the seemingly neverending barrage of billboards for Pedro’s paradise.
All in all, it was a very funny film and a great view of Americana but unfortunately is not on DVD and is seldom seen. You can see it on Youtube in six 10 minute clips. It’s not the greatest way to see something but if you enjoy the humor of Jean Shepherd it’s worth the effort. Here’s the first part: