Here we are again for another Christmas classic! This time, it’s the 1947 movie Miracle On 34th Street, starring John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, and Edmund Gwenn.
Maureen O’Hara plays Doris Walker, a divorced mother who works at Macy’s. When she has to fire the drunken Santa for the parade, she finds a replacement in the form of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn), who does well enough he is hired for the toy department at Macy’s. While there, he tries to change things, helping out by sending parents to wherever they need to go to help find the toys their kids are asking for. This works out well for Macy’s, and they institute it for more than just the toy department. Of course, the fact that Kris Kringle believes he is actually Santa Claus causes some trouble, which results in him being sent to an institution. At his trial, he is represented by Fred Gailey (John Payne), Doris’s boyfriend and neighbor, who must prove that Kris is indeed who he says he is.
I know it’s a favorite thing for some people to complain about how much Christmas stuff is put out in the stores far sooner than it should, or how some people start decorating, listening to music, or other such things a lot earlier, but his movie is, in some respects, a good example of how that problem has been there for a long time. From what I gather, this movie, a Christmas classic in its own right, was originally released in theaters in early summer (May or June seems to be what I see listed)! Apparently, the head of 20th Century Fox at that time, Darryl F. Zanuck, figured that the movie would do better if it was released during the summer. Of course, they tried to minimize the Christmas angle in promoting it, but audiences apparently enjoyed it enough to keep seeing it, even at that time of the year!
I admit, as I get older, I tend to hold less affection for most of the various “Santa Claus” movies. However, this one is the main exception to that rule. For me, Edmund Gwenn IS Santa Claus. I’ve never liked anybody else anywhere near as much in the role. And apparently, even the rest of the cast in this movie agreed that he was well cast in the role (and apparently, Natalie Wood, who played Doris’s daughter in this movie, didn’t even know he wasn’t Santa until they were finished filming the movie)! And I certainly found it interesting that the parade at the beginning of the movie was actually the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1946, where Edmund Gwenn was Santa in the parade! But I do recommend this movie very highly, and would definitely suggest watching it during the holiday season!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th Century Fox, and is one hour, thirty-six minutes in length.
My Rating: 10/10