How A Christmas Story Actually Filmed The Infamous Tongue Scene

It’s Christmas time. Christmas is a time for traditions, and movies have become a bigger and bigger part of those traditions over the years. One of the most popular Christmas movies is A Christmas Story. The film has a number of scenes that have become modern classics over the years. One of the most memorable is the Triple Dog Dare. Just thinking about the tongue stuck to the flagpole likely caused you to involuntarily cringe from fear and sympathy. The actor responsible for that cringe has just opened up about how the scene was filmed, and while it wasn’t nearly as bad as the real thing, it was no picnic.

Scott Schwartz, the actor who played Flick, apparently spends a lot of time talking about the famous scene. He’s often asked for a comment when kids are really dumb enough to try the stunt. The problem the kids have is that there’s no real life prop department making sure that you don’t actually get stuck. To be fair, Schwartz did get his tongue attached to the flagpole, just not as permanently as it appeared.

They made a piece of plastic that they slid over [the flagpole]. It had a little hole in it with a suction tube that went into the snow — you couldn’t see it, it was a little motor, like a small vacuum cleaner, [and] the hole-opening [in the plastic] was about the size of your pinky nail. So when you put your tongue there or finger or whatever, it just stuck.

The suction was enough to give the impression of an attachment, but apparently minor enough that Schwartz accidently pulled too hard and his tongue easily became free of the pole. This process was painless in case you’re wondering. According to the former child actor, now President of a child actor advocacy group, the worst part of the experience was the weather. Yahoo is reporting that the cast and crew spent two days filming in the bitter Canadian cold, at temperatures well below zero.

The movie is based on the semi-autobiographical stories of author Jean Shepherd. If you’re from another planet and are not familiar with the film, it follows young boy Ralphie on his numerous attempts to get a BB gun for Christmas. It was followed by a sequel a few years ago that was a crime against god and man. The flagpole scene is an aside showing off the lack of good sense among Ralphie’s schoolmates. Check out the scene below.

The scene has gone on to become as iconic as the leg lamp and the phrase "You’ll shoot your eye out." The movie is routinely run in continuous marathons during Christmas, for people who truly can never get enough of the film. What’s your favorite part of A Christmas Story

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.