A Christmas Story, Part 1

By Peter Skiera

You might not recognize his name, but chances are good you have seen one of the over 150 films or TV programs Paul Zaza has written music for. Zaza, along with follow composer Carl Zittrer, won the prestigious Canadian Genie Award in 1980 for their score to the Sherlock Holmes film Murder by Decree. That same year, the two wrote the score to the classic horror film Prom Night. The following year, Zaza composed the music for another classic horror flick, My Bloody Valentine, one of my top ten favorite horror films.He also composed the soundtracks for the horror film Popcorn (“Buy a bag, go home in a box”) and the sex comedy Porky’s. He teamed up with Zittrer again in 1983 to compose the music he is perhaps most famous for, A Christmas Story. On the television side of things. Zaza wrote music for shows like Eight Is Enough, That’s Incredible, and some partial music for The Waltons to name just a few.

Composer Paul Zaza. Photo from paulzaz.com



For this special holiday blog post, I spoke with Zaza, 69, by phone from his home in Canada. For more than an hour, Zaza pulled back the curtain on A Christmas Story, the music he scored for the now-classic holiday movie, the soundtrack release, deleted scenes, working with director Bob Clark and narrator Jean Shepherd, money issues with the movie, and more. Due to the quality of the phone recording, I was unable to clearly understand a couple of the passages. Rather than guess what was said, I noted “unintelligible” in those few, very brief portions.

If you are a fan of A Christmas Story, you will definitely enjoy Zaza’s first-hand accounts. Even if you are not a fan, you will still find Zaza’s inside stories fascinating. I triple-dog-dare-you to try to stop reading.



Jean Shepherd on the radio.



Peter:The time period of A Christmas Story is not made clear in the movie, although Ralphie’s Radio Orphan Annie Secret Society decoder pin is definitely from 1940. How did the time period influence your compositions?

Paul: Well, yeah. I’s a period piece, right? So obviously, you didn’t want to put any rap songs in there (laughs).

The other thing that a lot of people don’t know [is], actually a lot of people don’t know a lot of things about the film, the production. But the picture really was [director] Bob Clark’s vision of a Jean Shepherd radio show. [Shepherd] had a series of these little stories that he would tell on the radio. That was what Jean Shepherd did. He wrote these audio-only stories. And he had such a wonderful voice. He’s the voice of Ralphie In the picture that you hear. I had many, many lunches and dinners with Gene Shepherd. I could just sit there and listen to him talk all night because his voice was like a musical instrument. It was so soothing. It didn’t even matter what he was saying. It was just so nice to listen to the man talk because he had such emotion and such- just human warmth in his voice. When you hear him doing the narration on the movie, that’s what he talked like in real life. He wasn’t acting. That’s him.

Bob fell in love with a lot of the stories that came out of the Jean Shepherd novels and said, ‘Look, why don’t we make one, but for Christmas. It’s a little boy who wants a BB gun.’ And they went back to Jean Shepherd’s actual time. That’s when he was growing up and he remembered all these things. This is very autobiographical. He grew up in Indiana, wanted a BB gun for Christmas, he got all the push back from everybody saying, ‘No, no, no you’ll shoot your eye out’, and all this stuff. So, this was just really a recounting of his childhood. And of course, when Bob and [Jean] teamed up, it was magic because Bob added a lot of…well, you don’t know him, but he had a way of taking something and then just giving it a little extra twist or juice just to give it a little more…Sometimes it was a little too edgy and he had to cut back, like the stuff in there about ‘Oh, fudge!’ and ‘son-of-a-bitch’. That wasn’t in the original. Bob put that in there and he had to be very careful because the picture had to be a PG rating. You didn’t wanna have a kid saying ‘Oh, f***!’. This would not fly (laughs). Anyway, that’s the period and it’s a little before Bob’s time but not a lot. Bob might have been born in that era but he certainly wasn’t old enough to know about a BB gun. Jean was quite a bit older than all of us.



My reproduction telegram “the old man” received announcing his “major award”.



As far as the music goes, which I think is what you’re asking me, you’ve gotta remember, too, and a lot people don’t know this- with the music it was, with Bob and so many other directors, it was really more what their vision of it is than mine. I was a facilitator. My job is to give you what you want. What do you want? In the cases of a lot of Directors they say, ‘Well, I don’t know. I don’t know. Let’s try some things.’ Well, you can’t just try some things with a 90-piece orchestra (laughs). The trick, and we did it on every film that I’ve ever done, still done today is, you go to the record store, you buy a bunch of records like John Williams’ Star Wars, you buy Close Encounters, and you buy Superman, and you buy everything you can and then you take that needle drop, or you put it on, illegally of course. But it’s not goin’ anywhere, so nobody knows about it, and you use these soundtracks against your film to see if it works or not. And it’s perfectly legitimate. It’s called a temp track. So, the temp track goes on and then you know right away, and this is free. It doesn’t cost you anything more than the cost of buying the record. You know right away if it works or not. So, what we did was, we looked at the film- Bob’s got this idea. I think he heard it driving to the Baskin Robbins one day (laughs) for one of his milkshakes. He heard the Grand Canyon Suite on the radio being played on one of the classical stations in Massachusetts. I forget which one it was. And he really loved it. He called me from the car and he said, ‘This is fantastic. We could put this, this is perfect, this is Ralphie wanting his gun, shooting the bad guys. This is it.’ So, I remember saying to him, ‘What is it?’ ‘Well, I don’t know, but it’s on the radio now.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but I’m in Canada and you’re in Massachusetts. I can’t get to the radio station- you don’t even know what radio station you’re on’ (laughs). You don’t know what it is. You don’t know what station it is.’ So, we had to kind of delve into what did he hear that he fell in love with? And it turned out it is was Ferde Grofe, the composer who wrote the famous Grand Canyon Suite. If you listen to the score on the movie, you’ll hear the Grand Canyon Suite all over the place. It became the basis of the film.




Then there [was] other…obviously the Christmas carols, that’s a no brainer. Then there were little areas that didn’t- we couldn’t really find anything. Like the Bumpus hounds. What other movie has ever had a scene like the Bumpus hounds eating a turkey? Where do you begin to look for that? In my wisdom I said, ‘You’ve got a bunch of dogs ravaging a turkey.’ The only thing I could think of was the old standard, Turkey in The Straw. And the only reason I thought of it was because it was a turkey [sings some of the song]. You know how it goes. It’s an old classic. So, I did an orchestral version of Turkey in The Straw and put it on the movie where the dogs are rushing in to eat [the old man’s] turkey and he loved it. Bob said, ‘That’s brilliant. It’s fantastic. It’s beautiful.’ I said, ‘Okay, great.’   

The other area we had a problem with was [Bob] didn’t know what to do with the whole scene where the boy was walking with the kids, getting beat up by the bullies. There was all the dialogue between them: ‘Oh, your old man’s an idiot. ‘What does he know?’ And all that stuff. I came up with this stupid little polka which plays all through the movie when we’re transitioning from home to the school, between his fantasies, and all this. It’s that stupid little polka that Bob fell in love with because it was just childish, and it was playful, and it’s not really comical or cartoon-y, but it was just kind of fun. So that I came up with and he liked it. And the boys running and that little kind of chase music thing. But the rest of it was pretty much derived from Peter and The Wolf, Grand Canyon Suite, and what else? A lot of other whimsical parts where [Ralphie’s] fantasizing about getting an A++++ in the school. So really the whole thing was kind of pieced together over, probably 6 to 8 weeks, and a lot of it was trial and error, and a lot of stuff didn’t work, so we didn’t use it.

Peter: Is that a normal time frame for a film soundtrack?

Paul: Ah, yeeaah, you know, normally, in the case of like, especially with Bob, where he wasn’t always sure what he wanted, yeah. He tried things. He tried them. Very often what he would do is if he himself wasn’t sure if it worked (laughs), he would play it for anybody who happened to walk in the cutting room. One time, I remember it was late, we ordered a pizza, and the guy who brought the pizza, Bob said ‘Hey, come here. Watch this. What do you think of this?’ (laughs). And the pizza guy loved it so it ended up staying in the movie. That’s just the way Bob worked.

Peter: You mentioned going to the record store and buying soundtracks. Did soundtracks from other period holiday films enter the picture at for you?

Paul: Well, when I was speaking about that I was talking in general. This is for all the movies that I’ve done, especially Bob Clark films. In A Christmas Story, obviously we didn’t buy Star Wars because there would have been no place for it.

Peter: Right, right.

Paul: But I did buy the Grand Canyon Suite. And I did buy Tchaikovsky’s Peter & The Wolf. No. Sorry. Was it Prokofiev? I can’t remember who the hell wrote it. Anyway, Peter and The Wolf is used for the fight scene with the [kid] with the yellow eyes, so we did like excerpts of that, recreated of course. We don’t just drop the needle. We had to re-record it. I wrote it out again and re-recorded it. So, we had to buy that record. I had a lot of Christmas carols in my library. Of course, I re-recorded Jingle Bells. I think the opening of the film, which, I’m just trying to remember…Deck the Halls? Yeah, I think it was Deck the Halls. And again, variations on the Christmas carols that they fit the film and transitioned into the drama of the film.



My Zaza-signed lobby card photo.



Peter: But did you watch Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life or that kind of thing?

Paul: No, no, no, because the movie really isn’t anything like Miracle On 34th Street. I mean, this was kind of a unique film. So unique in fact, that the studio didn’t even want to release it. First of all, they said, ‘This is a documentary. We don’t do documentaries.’ Because [Bob] did it documentary style with the voice over. And Bob fought tooth and nail with MGM, and this happened all the time with Bob. He’d get into a pissing match with the studio heads…big arguments…he didn’t like them and they didn’t like him. They’d end up being at odds. They just weren’t working in synch with each other. MGM didn’t even want to release the film. First of all, they thought, ‘What are we doing here? It’s a documentary. It’s about a kid who wants a BB gun. Who cares?!’ Boy, were they wrong.

Anyway, the other problem was, and this is historical, but at the time, MGM just went through a massive change of management. They got a whole new studio head who came in, and if you know anything about the way Hollywood works (laughs), when they change studio heads, the new guy comes in, the first thing he does is, he un-does everything the guy before him did. Right? So, [the new guy] came in and he said, ‘What’s this?’ (laughs). Who green lit this project? Why is this project even in our roster? Why are we doing this?’ The problem was it was too late to stop it. Cameras were rolling, the money was being spent, I was hired, things were goin’. You couldn’t stop it. You can’t stop it because there’s contracts and unions and stuff like that. So instead of stopping it they just said, ‘Alright we’ll put it out. We’re gonna let it go, and we’re just gonna let it die.’ And that’s exactly what they did. The movie had no advertising. It came out around Christmastime. I think it opened on a Friday night and it was gone by Monday. Absolutely abysmal ticket sales. Didn’t even get a chance. It was just so pathetic. At the time, we just looked at each other and said, ‘Well, you know, what the hell do you expect? It’s a movie about a kid who wants a BB gun.’ At that time, people were goin’ to the movies to see John Travolta and all these people dancing…and all kinds of…Friday the 13th and exciting stuff. Nobody really had an appetite for a kid who wanted a BB gun for Christmas. So, that’s a little bit of the history of it.

Now, if you fast forward to the next what, 40 years? The film gained, slowly but surely, it gained an audience and it gained almost a cult following to the point now where it’s become an evergreen. It’s probably right up there with Miracle, and what’s the other one?

Peter: Wonderful life.

Paul: Wonderful Life. It’s become a classic. I can’t tell you, Peter, I don’t go through one Christmas without getting like a dozen phone calls (changes his voice)- ‘Hey! I just saw A Christmas Story on TV!’ Oh, Jeez, that’s a shock (laughs). I’m just tired of hearing everybody [saying], ‘Oh, I just watched A Christmas Story. What a great movie. You’ll shot your eye out. I double dog dare’…all that stuff. I’ve heard so much of that its almost depressing.

The film got taken over by Warner Brothers. We did a soundtrack on Rhino [Records] which you alluded to in your email. We’ve just been through…we haven’t made a dime on it.

Peter: Really? Wow!

Paul: Oh, yeah. They’re really bad people. They’re fighting them now- there’s all kinds of litigation. They can’t find the contracts, they took it over from MGM (unintelligible) the library. There’s just so much legal crap involved, but the (unintelligible) continues to make a fortune and we haven’t seen a dime.”

Peter: That’s a shame for you guys.

Paul: Well, I’m not telling you this, I don’t want pity, I’m just letting you know just how evil Hollywood is. The only way you really get to the bottom of it is to get some N.Y. attorney at $1,500 an hour and go after them. It’s hard for me to do, too, because I’m in Canada, and we’ve got to sue them in Los Angeles. It’s not in my near future. I don’t want to deal with it. The other interesting thing is the estate of Bob Clark has still got law suits because they screwed him, too. Yeah. So, there’s all that out there, but the average guy doesn’t really know or care about that (laughs). So that’s the name of that one.

“…He had such a wonderful voice. He’s the voice of Ralphie In the picture that you hear. I had many, many lunches and dinners with Gene Shepherd. I could just sit there and listen to him talk all night because his voice was like a musical instrument.”

Peter: When you were scoring the music, did you get the segment of the film you were scoring, or how did that work?

Paul: Well, I don’t just get a segment, I get the whole film. When I have a copy of the film, we would get together, sit down and look at scenes, individual scenes. Obviously, (unintelligible) a movie running almost 2 hours you can’t do that all-in-one blow, but there’d be problematic scenes that just weren’t either working right, or [Bob] wasn’t sure, and we would try things. I would work with him on it. He just doesn’t send me off and say…I mean, the times he did do that it would just be simple. ‘We need a Christmas carol here. They’re driving in the car. They’re on their way to buy the Christmas tree. Put something on the radio. I don’t care. Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, whatever.’ There was one part where they’re actually singing Jingle Bells along with [the radio] in the car. I don’t know if you remember the scene. So, I had to get on the set there and work with them on that because then I had to tie it in with the rest of it. But if it was just radio music, or if you listen to the beginning of the film, there’s an old radio on in the kitchen and they’re playing period music like The Hut-Sut Song or something that would have been very much played on the radio in that era. So [Bob would] say, ‘Let’s just find something and put it there’, just ‘cause it’s more an ambience in the background than it is a feature. Most people aren’t even aware of it. Those were the areas that weren’t of major concern.

The areas that were big were the flashback scenes where [Ralphie’s] fight Black Bart or whatever the guy’s name was. He’s gonna save the world, right? Those were big scenes and that’s where we really wanted [the music] to work well with picture. There were two scenes in the film, big flashbacks that never made it. They got cut out. The interesting thing about it is that these 2 scenes, I spent more time on scoring these scenes than anything else (laughs) and [Bob] ended up cutting the scenes.



My reproduction of Ralphie’s school paper about what he wants for Christmas. Photo by Peter Skiera.



Peter: Were they cut because of a time constraint or Clark just didn’t think they worked?

Paul: No. The scenes worked. One of them was Ralphie was Flash Gordon and he was up in outer space and there were all kinds of monsters and aliens. They built this incredible set with prosthetics and all these monsters and space shuttle…what do you call them? Flying saucers around and all this stuff. Really elaborate. It was actually very well done. This was Ralphie saving the world from the interplanetary monsters. Cut the whole scene out. Scoring it was a bitch because it just had to be big and larger than life.

The other scene was, Ming, The Magnificent (laughs). There was this whole scene built where he was again saving the world from Ming who was an evil man [or] whatever that folklore is. Ralphie was transplanted into that fantasy and the music again had to be big and evil- foreboding. They cut that scene, too. These two scenes ate up a lot of the money and the time in the movie. And then when I got the word they wanted the scenes [to be] cut I thought, ‘Jeez, what do I do with all this music?’ Why was it cut?’ I think you asked me. Basically, there was too many…we were storied out. We just had too many flashbacks. It was getting to be almost…when you looked at the whole film with all of these [flashbacks] in there, it was running too long. People were getting edgy because it was just too over the top. They found out of all the scenes to cut those were the two that were running the longest and the other [flashbacks] were more entertaining. They weren’t always [Ralphie] saving the world like when he was dreaming of getting an A++++. That was more on the mark. The movie is more than about Ralphie saving the world. So that’s a little bit of trivia for you.



My Zaza-signed A Christmas Story soundtrack. Photo by Peter Skiera.



Peter: Being the music geek that I am, it would have been wonderful if they had included the music from those deleted scenes on the soundtrack as bonus cuts along with some snippets of dialogue.

Paul: Well, yeah, that’s a whole other story. We did the soundtrack, my partner, Carl Zittrer, who edited all the music. We put the soundtrack together and we had a lot of problems with Rhino Records, which is Warner Brothers by the way. It’s just a subsidiary. We had done a version of the album originally on our own label and of course they got their lawyers on the phone and then it started to get really ugly. Finally, we said, ‘Look, we’re doing the album with or without you’, and they said, ‘Alright, well we’ll do it. We’ll put it out. We can put it out much bigger than you guys can on your own’, which [was] true. So, they did. Still haven’t seen a nickel from any of the sales. Then they said, ‘We want to cut it down to just the music that’s in the movie. We don’t want any deleted scenes, we don’t want any special bonuses’, and stuff like that. I said ‘Well, why not?’ I mean, give somebody something for free, they’re gonna love it and there’s a lot of Christmas Story buffs out there that go to the house in Cleveland they love to see all this behind- the-scenes stuff. But no, we couldn’t persuade them, so we had to make a decision. Do we just run with it? Well, what else do we do? That music still sits in my library and there’s not too many people that have heard it.

Peter: Well, that’s unfortunate, but you have to do what you have to do.

Paul: Well, that’s normal, Peter. That’s normal. In the life of a film composer some of their best work is sitting on the floor. That happens. It’s just life. It’s just the nature of the beast, that’s all.”

Peter: To back track, how did you get involved with all of this to begin with? I know you had worked with Bob in the past. Was that the link?

Paul: Absolutely. One thing about Bob… and film directors, though there are exceptions, but most tend to be very loyal and that’s not just because they’re great people. It’s very often an insecurity in that If a director has success with, say, a composer, an editor, a D.O.P. [Director of Photography], whatever- they tend to go back to them because they feel, well, it worked once, maybe it will work again. It’s almost a superstition. The only time they’ll make a change is if for some reason it doesn’t work, or the film was a disaster, or the [director] is just too hard to work with. [Bob and I] had done a couple. I think Murder by Decree, the Sherlock Holmes film, and what else did we do? I can’t remember the timeline. I don’t know if Porky’s was before or after that.



Peter: I think it was before because I read that Porky’s actually helped fund A Christmas Story. I read that somebody said if it hadn’t been for the success of Porky’s, A Christmas Story never would have been made.

Paul: Ah, I don’t know how true…that may be. Again, I don’t know, I wasn’t in the board room meetings when these financial decisions were made, but I know that Murder by Decree was the first one and it was critically acclaimed. It was probably one of the best things Bob’s ever done. It won awards. Really put him on the map as a very good, strong director, but I don’t think it made any money. Porky’s was put together and shot in Florida and a very limited budget, very little. In fact, we ran out of money and had to stop and then I think at the 11th hour a guy by the name of Harold Greenberg came in and finished the film. He took a big piece of it which paid him huge dividends later but the film did well…very, very well at the box office as you know. And there [were] all kinds of money flying around for everybody, and I think Bob said, ‘Oh, I wanna to do’…he was fascinated by this Jean Shepherd story as I told you, so he shopped the thing around and went to MGM and convinced the then head of MGM to put up a very mediocre budget to let him make the movie. This is the movie he wanted to make. I don’t remember it running out of money. I think it just simply- they capped it and they said, ‘No, this is as far as we’re going to go with it’ because they kinda new before the film was made that it wasn’t going to get a big, what they call a P&A budget. A P&A is print and ad. Normally if a film, just for round figures, if a film cost 10 million dollars to make, it needs another 10 million in prints and ads. Those are the physical prints that used to be. It’s different now with digital, but in the old days, if you had to make 3,000 prints of a movie, that was a lot of money. And then the ads…the bus shelters, the newspapers, the TV ads. That’s big. That’s expensive. As a rule of thumb, usually whatever the budget of your movie is, is what the budget of the P&A is. They already knew they weren’t going to put any money into the P&A. [A Christmas Story] didn’t have that many prints and there were no ads. So, I don’t remember Bob or anybody putting Porky’s money in to finish it. Might have happened but I don’t know anything about it.

“…We ordered a pizza, and the guy who brought the pizza, Bob said, ‘Hey, come here. Watch this. What do you think of this?’ And the pizza guy loved it so it ended up staying in the movie.”

Peter: What was Carl’s (Zittrer) role in all of this?

Paul: Carl really was, I mean, Carl and Bob went to school together. They were buddies in Florida. I’m a Canadian. I met Carl- that’s a whole other story for a whole other interview. But Carl and I knew each other and then when Bob said, ‘Look, I wanna make this period piece called Murder by Decree and I need music’, Carl kinda knew that, well, it’s a little out of [his] league. He had done a movie with Bob first called Black Christmas.

PS: Yes, I know it well. A great Christmas horror film.

Paul: Yeah. He did a great job, but it wasn’t- if you know the film, you know that the music in it is nothing like Murder by Decree (unintelligible). But [Carl] knew enough that if he had to do a period piece in 1888 in England, and it had to be Sherlock Holmes and it had to be stately, he knew he was a little out of his league. So,[Carl] called me and he said, ‘I want you to collaborate with me on this…do a lot of the writing and come to England and we’ll work with Clark there’, which is exactly what I did. So that’s how I met Bob through Carl, and Carl knew Bob since they were in high school.

So, what was [Carl’s] role? He was really kind of the conduit between me and Clark because Clark didn’t know who I was. A lot of the movie was shot in Canada because it was a co-Canadian-English production. He did do some shooting in Canada so this all worked well. I think they needed a Canadian content component to it. Like I don’t know whether you- how into the Canadian film thing you are, but to get government money…what do they call them?

Peter: Grants?

Paul: Grants? You can get governments to put tax shelters together for Canadian businessmen who will put, say, $100,000 into a film investment and then get to write off the complete amount against their income tax ‘cause they’re investing in cultural…it’s just a thing. We’ve always had tax shelters here which has been the only reason for our film industry going anywhere. But as one of the caveats of that is you have to have a certain [number] of Canadians on the film. You look at the cast of any of these films you’re gonna see a lot of Canadian people, like Christopher Plumber was a Canadian. I was one of the points. Each component was worth so many points. If you had a leading actor or an editor or a D.O.P. or a first A.D. [Assistant Director], whatever. Every one of these would be worth so many points, and a music composer’s worth quite a few points. So, they needed me for that. Plus, I mean, I wasn’t just hired because I was Canadian. I was hired because Carl knew I could do it.

And what did he do? Well, a lot of the music I wrote. I conducted The Royal [Philharmonic] in London. It was a big treat for me to do that to hear this beautiful orchestra playing all my music. Then Carl would take it, edit it, work with Bob in the cutting room and say, “Okay, you know, we’ve got this and this. We worked this out here.’ A lot of the movie wasn’t even shot when we did the music. [Bob] ended up doing some pickup shots. Then we came back to Canada and had to do more sessions. But at that point we kinda knew what Bob wanted- where this was gonna go. If you’ve ever seen [Murder by Decree], you’ll see that it’s pretty dark. There’s not a lot of happy scenes in the movie. We had to make sure that the music didn’t bring it down so much that it was just too depressing to watch. There’s always that fine line…you’re doing a movie about Jack the Ripper, it’s not a feel-good film. There’s always that balance.


My Ian Petrella autographed piggie picture. Oink Oink!



Peter: Did you have any interaction with the actors in A Christmas Story?

Paul: A Christmas Story was pretty much…I wasn’t on the set for a lot it that was shot in Cleveland and if you look at the movie, the movie was actually shot mostly in Cleveland, and I’d say maybe 30% of it in Toronto. They never went to Indiana to shoot it which is where it’s supposed to have happened. I didn’t get to Cleveland. There was no reason to go there. But for the Canadian pickups I went to the sets and got to meet Ralphie and all, but again, these were kids. I knew a couple of the actresses who were Canadian, like the teacher, Tedde Moore, who plays the teacher. She’s from Toronto. I had worked with her on a few things beforehand.

Again, it was pretty much put together very quickly. It was a short set. The longest scenes were the two I told you about. They had to build these sets for, so that’s where the time was spent. The other scenes pretty much, I mean, come on, it’s not like, how long does it take to shoot a movie? Most of it was taking place in the house or the school where he was running from the school. Those were easy to shoot. The flash backs were the hardest part to shoot. That’s where the time was spent. But anyway, good memories from that, too. Nobody was pulling any tantrums. There [were] no problems. Bob and Jean Shepherd got along really well.

Where I think we had more, and this is off topic, but was there was a sequel made called My Summer Story. It got re-titled to, what did they call it? Some stupid…It Runs in The Family, or something like that. It was supposed to be the sequel. It was the sequel to A Christmas Story. It was the same gang only in the summer time. Instead of a BB gun [Ralphie] wanted a top. You know, those spinning tops? You probably haven’t seen the movie and don’t bother. They took all the same ingredients…Ralphie and the brother, and the old man, and the Bumpus hounds, the Bumpus’ were back, and all this nonsense. But it got convoluted. It just got to be- it wasn’t working. Jean [Shepherd]and Bob were arguing all the time and Jean was saying, ‘No, this isn’t what the old man would have done.’ It wasn’t working. It didn’t jell like the original did. It died a very quick death and (laughs) didn’t have a resurgence unlike the original.



Trivia: Paul Zaza is a graduate of the prestigious Toronto Music Conservatory and is professional musician, playing bass and piano. He played bass in the hit Canadian stage production “Hair” and toured with the Fifth Dimension in the 1970’s.



I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of my conversation with composer Paul Zaza. In Part 2, Zaza discusses A Christmas Story house in Cleveland, the vintage fire engine used in the movie, what he thinks of the movie and the soundtrack today, the singing Chinese waiters’ scene, the tongue frozen on the flag pole scene, and more great tales of working with director Bob Clark. Part 2 of my exclusive interview is available now for all Patreon supporters only. Please consider supporting my blog by becoming a Patreon supporter for just $1. You will have immediate access to Part 2 of this exclusive interview on Patreon plus my monthly Recommended and Hitchhiker Internet radio stations.

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