Making Movie Memories

November 25th, 2008 by Ralphie

 

My friend John (he’s the Fire Chief at the flagpole) and I were hired as 

drivers for the street scene in front of Victoria school.  We were all told 

to vary the order of the cars each time we turned for another run by.  It 

made for some fancy manoeuvering at the corners!

At one point, a parked car had to be relocated.  It was black and had a nice 

fresh covering of snow on it; the driver was told “don’t lose the snow”.  He 

couldn’t use the wipers to see, nor close his door for fear of disrupting 

the snowflakes.  We walked alongside to hold the door open and guide him.

All communication there was by walkie-talkie; they were using three 

different frequencies, and one

crewman was carrying three units.  It was his job to relay messages from one 

group to another.

A car that was needed in a scene for continuity went missing. Dave, the “car 

boss” gave John and me the keys to his Austin Mini and told us to go looking 

for “the big brown Chev and get it back here now!” We found it two blocks 

away; the guy had driven away to mail a letter!  The car had stalled and 

wouldn’t turn over.  He produced a big rope and said “it always starts on a 

tow”.  I looked at the Chev, which was about three times the size and weight 

of the Mini, and figured we should try, considering the urgency.  So, we 

tied the rope onto the Mini’s bumper, not noticing the bumper was bolted to 

the trunk lid which was held on by two little hinges and the latch.  I eased 

out the slack and took off.  The Mini was wound out in first gear when Mr 

Chev popped the clutch.  It felt like we were yanked backwards, then with a 

big bang, we shot forward!  I looked in the mirror and saw the trunk lid 

flying through the air and Mr Chev standing  on the brake pedal trying to 

stop and miss the lid coming at him!  The Chev was running and back to the 

school it went.

When I got back to the school, I was sent to wardrobe to dress as a 

bystander for the flagpole scene.  The coat they gave me had a bright pink 

lining, and buttoned the wrong way- it was a woman’s!  The lady said “no one 

will notice”.

The red lights on the police car were truck stoplights bolted to suction 

cups and stuck on the roof.  The cop driving made a bunch of unsuccessful 

attempts to bring the car in and stop where the director wanted it.  

Finally, they put a sandbag on the road (you can see it under the front 

wheel), that would stop the car at the right place.  So they rolled in again 

and stopped.  Perfect.  The cops got out, slammed the doors and the lights 

fell off.

I earned about $18. from the movie.

Trivia: The Fire Chief’s hat has the letters RNFBA. This is for the Regional 

Niagara Fire Buffs Association, a local benevolent group that operates an 

emergency canteen service for the Fire Department.

Trivia:  The tire changing scene took place in St. Catharines on Glendale 

Ave adjacent to the Welland Ship Canal; you can see the lift bridge in the 

background.

Regards, Bill Dwyer

Bill Dwyer from A Christmas Story

 

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