The first half of this film, set hundreds of years ago, shows how the old man who eventually became Santa Claus was given immortality and chosen to deliver toys to all the children of the world. The second half moves into the modern era, in which Patch, the head elf, strikes out on his own and falls in with an evil toy manufacturer who wants to corner the market and eliminate Santa Claus.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A perfectly-cast Christmas confection that surpasses all expectations and really does make viewers laugh and tear up. Corny? Yes. Overacted? In some scenes, yes. Dated? Perhaps. But the message of belief, ultimately, is timeless and the silvery black and white cinematography is wonderful. And yes, there's Edmund Gwenn as the department store Santa who really is. A most deserving recipient of the Supporting Actor Oscar, Gwenn seems like an incredibly nice man--maybe because he never has to force kindliness; more than that, he has an innate happiness and twinkle that comes from within. He truly glows in this part. Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Thelma Ritter (in a wonderful bit) and precocious Natalie Wood are also excellent in this classic fairy tale. It is a film without artifice. It glows, too. **** from ****
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