Thursday, April 5, 2007

A Few More Words For Bob Clark

I posted pretty early this morning on the tragic deaths of Bob Clark and his 22 year old son but I had a few more thoughts to share, specifically about his 1983 film A CHRISTMAS STORY.
One thing that is fascinating about Bob Clark's filmography is the sheer range of it and the fact that he was adept at so many different kinds of films. Compare a film like PORKY'S to A CHRISTMAS STORY and then consider the same man made them just about a year apart. I also forgot to mention his underrated Jack Lemmon collaboration TRIBUTE which earned Lemmon one of his many well deserved Oscar nominations. In many of the online tributes to Clark that are coming through several have mentioned a certain number of 'bad' films Clark made including the likes of RHINESTONE and TURK 182. These films might be failures but at least they are interesting failures so they shouldn't take away from the handful of truly great films Clark delivered throughout his career.
Clark's most famous film has got to be A CHRISTMAS STORY. I was 11 when this film hit theaters and I still remember very clearly seeing it on the big screen for the first time. It is harder to think of a more sweet natured film that came out of the eighties and it has without a doubt become a Christmas classic; one of those films like MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET or IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE that is watched over and over each year around the holiday season. It has been odd for me to watch a film take on that kind of status that I grew up with. It was a film made from a very nostalgic point of view that has in the near 25 years since it has been released become a piece of nostalgia itself for many film lovers.
I have met people who name A CHRISTMAS STORY as their favorite all time film and that is not something to ignore. For many people it has come to represent something from their childhood that they yearned for and never really had. Clark's light and assured direction is as much responsible for this as the story it was based on. A CHRISTMAS STORY maintains its wonderfully glazed over shiny look all these years later like a well wrapped Christmas present holding something special underneath the tree.
I prefer Clark's early horror films but I felt like I slighted A CHRISTMAS STORY'S importance in my earlier post. For many people my age and younger it remains one of the most treasured films and for that gift the undervalued Bob Clark should have been thanked.
So, if you pray say one for Bob Clark, his son and their surviving friends and family. This was a horrible and senseless way to go, and it makes me very angry...and very sad.


aaron said...

Yeah, I'm also more than annoyed by the obituaries coming in that go out of their way to insult some of the man's lesser efforts (the most egregious example being Jeffrey Wells, over at

His ability to adeptly move from genre to genre has to be commended, and he obviously stood by these so-called "failures" (contributing a solo commentary track over TURK 182 for the Anchor Bay release, which was most enjoyable).

Of course, I greatly prefer his 70s horror output, but he did the best with his means in recent years, and even dreck like BABY GENIUSES contains a sly bit of opening POV that reminded me quite a bit of BLACK CHRISTMAS (I'm not arguing for the merits of that latter film, but it's a job-for-hire aimed towards children, and it's really sorta silly for critics and journalists to get bent out of shape over it at a time like this).

Thanks for these well-considered words on the man. I think it's a testament to how much he's had an impact that you felt the need to add even more today.


Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks for the comments. I appreciated reading your thoughts on Bob Clark and his work.