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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 <email@example.com>
The film's original title was "Christmas Miracle on 34th Street" but because the release date was moved to the summer, the Christmas from the title was dropped. See more »
When Kris is finishing up his examination, Dr. Sawyer is portrayed in a combination of three camera angles. As the angles change his hands go from raised above the desk to palms down on the desk to folded on the desk. The hands change positions continually throughout the scene. See more »
Still among the most worthwhile of the familiar holiday movies, this classic version of "Miracle on 34th Street" has a combination of cast, story, and production that works well. Maureen O'Hara, young Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn would probably have carried it pretty well by themselves, and they are joined by a very good supporting cast. The screenplay is nicely done, bringing out the fantasy elements of the story without letting it become trite.
Gwenn, who played many solid character roles, gets the chance here to play a role for which he was ideally suited, and it works very well. O'Hara and Wood make a good pair to balance him out. The supporting cast gets some very good moments of their own, especially Gene Lockhart and William Frawley, whose scenes are entertaining while also offering some occasionally pointed commentary.
The style of the production is well-suited to the material, offering an innocently upbeat story without overdoing it on sentimentality. For all that this style of the production and acting are out of fashion, they are able to capture a theme like this in a worthwhile way that is simply not possible with the kind of false "sophistication" that permeates so many present-day movies.
That's not to say that this is some kind of masterpiece, which it is not and did not try to be. Instead, it's a light, enjoyable, positive movie that does make a worthwhile point or two. That kind of feature will always find an appreciative audience somewhere.
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