A CHRISTMAS STORY: Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss (1988)

This Jean Shepherd story isn’t about a holiday but is about summer vacations. But first, work. Ralphie (Jerry O’Connell), Flick (Cameron Johann) and Schwartz (Ross Eldridge) are working a horrific first career at Scott’s Used Furniture Palace — run by a character played by Shepherd — while dreaming of having a few days off. Before that, the family dog Fuzzhead (Shepherd’s real life dog Daphne) goes missing and ends up living in a mansion.

The trip to get to the trailer park of the title is described in the words of Shepherd as a journey “beset on all sides by strange creatures, the lost mariner searches and searches, in the Sargasso sea of life.”

James Sikking, who plays The Old Man, is also in The Night God Screamed, which is pretty awesome casting. Mom is played by Dorothy Lyman, who depending on when you watched TV was a pretty big deal. For those who watched soaps in the afternoon, she was on a ton of soap operas, including A World ApartThe Edge of Night, as Gwen Parrish Frame on Another World, Rebecca Whitmore on Generations, Bonnie Roberts on The Bold and the Beautiful and most importantly, she was Opal Sue Gardner on All My Children. If you watched TV at night, you knew her as Naomi, the daughter-in-law on Mama’s Family.

Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss was co-producted by Disney, public TV’s American Playhouse and Boston public TV station WGBH. While funded by Disney, they had nothing to do with production. After airing on their channel, it moved to public television.

This was the last film Shepherd made for television. He wanted to turn his stories into a series, but by 1988, he was making from the reruns and home video sales from A Christmas Story and decided to make another movie. That would be 1994’s It Runs in the Family: My Summer Story or as it is better remembered today, A Summer Story.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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