We're watching A Christmas Story today -- one of those movies that, like It's a Wonderful Life and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, has been embraced as uberclassics even though they met with lukewarm receptions during their initial release.

Like millions of folks today, we love the movie. But I always get a little distracted by the anachronistic 1980's hairstyle adorning the lovely and talented Melinda Dillon as Raphie's mom.

It's more at home for this '80s icon...

Or this '80s icon from TV's Lou Grant...

Director Bob Clark and his team clearly went out of their way to capture the 1940's American breadbasket world of essayist Jean Shepherd. My dad also loved the movie, since he was only a little older than Ralphie during this era.

But according to Clark DVD commentary (thank you), Ms. Dillon insisted on avoiding the period hairstyle more resembling that of teacher Miss Shields (luminous Canadian actress Tedde Moore, who was the best reason to watch Mistletoe Over Manhattan on the Hallmark Channel).

By the way, Ralphie's daydream about Miss Shield's delirious reception of his essay is one of my favorite Christmas Story sequences, since I sometimes have similar expectations when turning in my writing and also sometimes get the same real-life results.

Melinda Dillon turns in an superb performance, adding a quirky dimension to her very warm and loving performance. Her top billing belies her 1983, star status in such hits as Close Encounters of the Third Kind. So Clark didn't insist on the hair-do. And now, A Christmas Story is probably the film Ms. Dillon is most known for, since it is run unceasingly and many have it memorized.

So maybe Ms. Dillon herself wishes in hindsight that she was more sartorially flexible. Maybe she does not. She's probably put in behind her, as I should in the coming year.

But I can't help wondering if fans still recognize her and say, "I loved you in A Christmas Story! But what was the deal with your '80s hair?"

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