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.
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.