Ron Moody Has Been On My Mind

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I was talking with Joe about Oliver (of course), and we were laughing at how we’re partners-in-crime in this obsession. It’s so enjoyable to talk to another obsessive.

And so, in line with that, Ron Moody has suddenly been on my mind (because yeah, that’s normal.)

I have been thinking about Ron Moody. Ron Moody was huge in my childhood. Not as huge as John Denver or Lance Kerwin, it is true, but it was close. Of course he has a credit list from here to Woonsocket, but to me, he’s always just Fagin, that’s it. I can’t see him as anything else.

Since I have been thinking about Ron Moody, I remembered yet another highwater-mark in my obviously deprived childhood (where I spent most of my time hovering over the TV Guide looking for re-runs of Orphan Train and Skyward). It was a Christmas movie starring Benji.

You know. Benji.

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Maybe you have to be a certain age to remember Benji. Benji was huge. He was no Rin Tin Tin, it is true, he was no Lassie, but he was close.

And in 1978, Benji – with some of the cast members of the original hugely successful Benji movie (which my parents had taken us to) – had his very own Christmas movie. As a matter of fact, what are the odds, the movie is called Benji’s Very Own Christmas Story. All I remember about it is this:

Benji and his sidekicks travel to a magical icy land where Kris Kringle is real. And …

That’s where my brain stops.

I do remember there was a cast of thousands, as well as musical numbers, and Ron Moody played Kris Kringle. I was only a tomboy pipsqueak when the Christmas movie came out, but I was already deep into Oliver obsession at that point, and could recite to you Ron Moody’s resume, if asked. Sadly, no one ever asked. I’m still waiting.

But it was so much fun for me as a kid to see this actor, whom I only knew from one part, live it up in this other part, and I remember there was one giant production number, with Kris Kringle skipping through his … village? workshop? torture chamber of death? “It puts the Benji in the basket?” I have no idea … with crowds of people thronging behind him and they are all singing about … Christmas? Wrapping paper? Scandinavian coke-whores? … no idea … but I LOVED the number as a child, and, true to form, huddled up against the television screen with a tape recorder, so I could capture it.

I clearly should have been in an institution.

I suppose I could look at it in a positive way. VCRs were far in our family’s future. I was way ahead of the curve.

And so, yes, what of it, I used to turn on my tape recording of this number from BENJI’S VERY OWNCHRISTMAS STORY (for God’s SAKE), and act it out in my room, pretending I was in the movie, or in the world of the movie at LEAST, or maybe that a role was added – for a small freckled tomboy of a SIDEKICK for Ron Moody … and I would be so engrossed in all of this that I wouldn’t hear my mother calling me to dinner.

Anyway, I hadn’t thought about Ron Moody and Benji in years, until the last couple of days, and so a quick click on Amazon made me see that yes, unbelievably, Benji’s Very Own Christmas Story is available on DVD (excuse me. And Skyward is not? That’s bullshit, people. I’m dead serious), and you can purchase it for $5.99.

Naturally I bought it immediately.

I need to watch that big-ass musical number again and try to imagine my way back into my child-self and remember what the fuss was about.

It seems vitally important for some reason.

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25 Responses to Ron Moody Has Been On My Mind

  1. David says:

    If they are Scandinavian coke-whores can I borrow it?

  2. Emily says:

    “I have been thinking about Ron Moody.”

    I’m sensing a new category coming soon.

  3. red says:

    Why don’t I think to check on Youtube. I’m retarded. The whole thing is there.

    I’m down 6 bucks.

    But David, go check it out! Scandinavian coke-whores wearing Santa hats!

  4. amelie says:

    It’s nice to know, sheila, that you were the walking imdb for ron moody before the internet. that’s awesome!

  5. red says:

    Emily – hahahahahaha

    The dude is still alive, I believe, which seems hard to even comprehend! It seems like he was 80 years old already when he played Fagin!

  6. A says:

    This sounds brilliantly mad. Who doesn’t love dancing Scandinavian coke-whores in Santa hats?

    There was a Benji movie that played constantly on tv when I was small – I don’t remember the name, the plot was something about Benji running away. There was a scene where one of the bad guys kicked the small white fluffy dog playing Benji’s sidekick/chum/love interest. I still remember it vividly. My mother forbade the movie ever being watched or mentioned in the house because that scene would prostrate me with grief for HOURS. The photo you chose of Benji’s sad eyes brought it all flashing horribly back. AAAAHHH!!!!!! Next, you’ll be talking about THAT SCENE from Dumbo which to this day, I can’t mention without welling up.

  7. Diana says:

    Oh, God. I remember that! That hurts me, too, to remember that scene.

    Another one for me was in The Song of the South. I saw it once, in a drive-in theater with my parents when I was about 6. I remember a little girl falling down in the mud in her white party dress and not being able to go to the party and that devastated me. I could never see that movie again and I can still remember how hard that scene was, to see that little girl crying about her dress.

    I wish I had childhood memories of movies and shows that are more like Sheila’s and less like A’s. I suspect that our childhoods were not filled with bedroom extravaganzas as much as bedroom weepfests for all the huuuuuurt in the world. I know mine was!

    And I think I understand, finally, why my memories are not as vivid as Sheila’s. Pure self-preservation.

  8. red says:

    //Who doesn’t love dancing Scandinavian coke-whores in Santa hats? //

    A, that is one of the eternal and universal questions, isn’t it?

    Although I can think of another one, having to do with an astrological sign that is tormenting me.

    Moving on.

    And strangely, I think I remember the little fluffly love interest being kicked. Horrifying.

    Let’s not talk about it anymore.

    We’re all losing it.

  9. red says:

    Diana – wait until I write, someday, about the TV movie called “Bless the Beasts and the Children” which basically stole my sense of innocence WAY too early. I still haven’t recovered from that damn thing.

  10. A says:

    I apologise to everyone for bringing that up. Benji’s eyes took me right back there. I’m glad Ron Moody was having none of that kind of thing in his Benji movie. He knew dancing Scandinavian coke-whores in Santa hats and full astrological disclosure were the keys to happiness.

  11. red says:

    DYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. De says:

    You think YOU’VE lost it?
    I think my brain is going to explode!!!

    Hey, Sheila, do you happen to know Ron Moody’s entire resume? Just askin…

  13. JFH says:

    So:

    I am reviewing, the situation, can Sheila be a Moody fan all her life?…

    Dang, I got nothing after that ; (

  14. JFH says:

    I think I better think that out again…

    BTW, I don’t think “Bless the Beasts and the Children” was a TV movie, because I remember seeing it on the base movie theater at Clark AFB in the Philippines. Then again, it might have been a TV movie that they decided to pass off as a normal movie. (In those days, we were at least two years behind US television current broadcasts)

  15. red says:

    JFH – No idea. I know I saw it on television.

    so long fare thee well
    pip pip cheerio
    we’ll be back soon

  16. red says:

    De – hahahaha Thanks for asking!

    Ron Moody was born on a cold dark day in 1924 …

  17. red says:

    If you don’t mind havin’ to deal with Fagin
    It’s a fine life
    It’s a fine wheeeeeeeeeeee

  18. just1beth says:

    “It puts Benji in the basket…” AHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA!!! (All I can imagine is us all lotioning up after the new tats…)
    We have a dog down the street that looks EXACTLY like Benji- but she is a girl. She loves Carly, but either ignores or nips at Ciaran. It kinda bothers Ciaran, and he tries, God love him, to earn girl-Benji’s approval. But she won’t have it.

  19. Jayne says:

    I remember back then during all the Benji madness that they (someone) held a contest where you could win one of Benji’s puppies. (Besides being adorable, he was quite the manly stud.)

    And I entered. I don’t remember what my entry was (it was one of those “WHY do you want a puppy and why do you think you deserve it more than any of the other zillion kids entering?) but I know I agonized over it, and, like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, I was convinced that my little essay was IT.

    The judges didn’t agree, apparently.

  20. red says:

    Jayne – Oh, that is so so cute!

    I can’t believe your essay wasn’t chosen. Maybe it’s because, at one point, you put “needles in Benji’s teeth”?

    (I hope to God you remember what I’m talking about …)

  21. red says:

    Beth – hahaha and taking closeup pictures of all of our tats. Hilarious!!!

  22. nightfly says:

    You guys are talking all about a single movie, right? “Benji Twist’s Very Own Silence of the Skyward Christmas with the Beasts and Orphan Children.”

    I’ll check the AMC listings.

  23. Kate P says:

    What a find! I vaguely remember Benji–if he’s the one who got into a lot of scrapes, then he’s the reason I can’t stand watching movies involving “animals in trouble”!

    Nice to know we weren’t the only ones holding up the tape recorder to the TV!

  24. red says:

    Kate – you did that too??

  25. Kate P says:

    YES!!! I *insist* that somewhere in my parents’ house, there is a audiocassette of the John Denver & the Muppets Christmas show, which we HAD to record because my dad couldn’t be home for it–choir practice, I’m guessing.

    I believe my brother and I also did this to the radio–and SANG ALONG! Yeah, those were quality recordings. I was just thinking of this earlier today when Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” came on the radio while I was driving. We did that song massively wrong.