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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

 -  Comedy | Drama | Family  -  2 May 1947 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 25,008 users  
Reviews: 139 user | 84 critic

When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.

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Title: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Won 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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A department store Santa tries to convince a little girl who doesn't believe in Santa Claus that he is Santa Claus, and winds up going on trial to prove who he is.

Director: Fielder Cook
Stars: Sebastian Cabot, Jane Alexander, David Hartman
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Porter Hall ...
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Jerome Cowan ...
Philip Tonge ...
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Storyline

At the Macy's Department Store Thanksgiving Day parade, the actor playing Santa is discovered to be drunk by a whiskered old man. Doris Walker, the no nonsense special events director, persuades the old man to take his place. The old man proves to be a sensation and is quickly recruited to be the store Santa at the main Macy's outlet. While he is successful, Ms. Walker learns that he calls himself Kris Kringle and he claims to be the actual Santa Claus. Despite reassurances by Kringle's doctor that he is harmless, Doris still has misgivings, especially when she has cynically trained herself, and especially her daughter, Susan, to reject all notions of belief and fantasy. And yet, people, especially Susan, begin to notice there is something special about Kris and his determination to advance the true spirit of Christmas amidst the rampant commercialism around him and succeeding in improbable ways. When a raucous conflict with the store's cruelly incompetent psychologist erupts, Kris ... Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@rogers.com>

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Capture the spirit of Christmas with this timeless classic!


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TV-G | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

2 May 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Wunder von Manhattan  »

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording) (5.0) (L-R)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite the fact that the film is set during Christmas, studio head Darryl F. Zanuck insisted that it be released in May because he argued that more people went to the movies during the summer. So the studio began scrambling to promote it while keeping the fact that it was a Christmas movie a secret. See more »

Goofs

The judge looks to the audience's right when looking at his advisor, but the advisor is sitting on the audience's left See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Mara: Sometimes I wish I married a butcher or a plumber.
District Attorney: My dear, if I lose this hearing, you may very well get your wish.
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Soundtracks

Sabre and Spurs
(1918) (uncredited)
Music by John Philip Sousa
Played when Doris is in her apartment and at other times during the parade
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User Reviews

 
"You'd Better Watch Out, You'd Better Not Cry.................."
22 October 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

...............Santa Claus has come to town. Or at least that's what a gentlemen appropriately named Kristopher Kringle played by Edmund Gwenn complete with full white beard is claiming. He makes his appearance at the Thanksgiving Day Parade as sponsored by R.H. Macy's Department Store and finds the Santa hired for the occasion, Percy Helton, full of a little too much Christmas cheer already. In charge of the parade is one of Macy's middle level executives, Maureen O'Hara, who fires Helton and hires Gwenn right then and there.

Gwenn's obvious sincerity makes him an ideal Santa Claus for Macy's and for us. He spreads the real meaning of Christmas around even has Macy's declaring a holiday truce with its rival Gimbel's. That's a part of Miracle on 34th Street that might be lost to viewers today. Gimbel's was Macy's big department store rival and it's flagship store in New York stood across 34th Street at the time. Gives a meaning to the title that is lost on today's audience.

But wiser and more sophisticated folks like the majority of us know there ain't no such thing as Santa Claus. Even Maureen O'Hara knows that and imparts it to her daughter Natalie Wood. Gwenn's just a kind old man in a white beard. But when his sanity is questioned, Gwenn's belief becomes a matter for the courts where Gwenn is ably defended by O'Hara's boyfriend, lawyer John Payne.

Like that other holiday classic It's A Wonderful Life, Christmas is never complete without seeing Miracle on 34th Street. Though New York has changed considerably since 1947 the year I made my earthly debut, the film has lost absolutely none of its charm.

Edmund Gwenn won the Best Supporting Actor of 1947 and in doing so, beat out his best friend, Finlay Currie, who was up that year for playing Magwitch in Great Expectations. The two had met in stock companies in their native Scotland and were friends right up to when Gwenn passed away in 1959. The Oscar was the high point of his career.

Maureen O'Hara in her memoirs says that Miracle on 34th Street holds a special place in her affections. In fact until Gwenn died, she had hopes of doing some kind of sequel. She bonded on stage with young Natalie Wood who later played her daughter in Father Was A Fullback also and kept in contact with her right up to her death in 1981.

Maureen also had a deep affection for John Payne who she made four films with and says was one of the nicest men in the world. One story she related was on the set of another film they made, Payne was served with divorce papers right on the set from his then wife, Anne Shirley. She said he broke down and cried like a baby. If it weren't for the fact she was married, she said she definitely could have gotten something going with Payne.

In the supporting cast note the presence of one grinch in the person of Porter Hall who played one of his patented nasty little meanies. His meddling and general misanthropy cause Gwenn to have that trial in the first place. Look for a bit role from Jack Albertson as the postal employee who inadvertently saves the day. Also making her film debut is Thelma Ritter as the mother of a child looking to meet Santa Claus, the one official Santa Claus, courtesy of Macy's Department Store.

Although Miracle on 34th Street has been remade several times over the years, this one is the genuine article. As genuine as the fact that Macy's has the official Santa Claus as certified by a higher authority.

One thing has always puzzled me though. How long did it take Edmund Gwenn to grow that beard for the part?


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