Up 1,463 this week

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Family  |  2 May 1947 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.9/10 from 28,029 users  
Reviews: 149 user | 90 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.



(written for the screen by), (story)
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

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



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A lawyer and a little girl must prove that a man claiming to be Santa Claus is the real thing.

Director: Les Mayfield
Stars: Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott
Animation | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville.

Directors: Chuck Jones, Ben Washam
Stars: Boris Karloff, Thurl Ravenscroft, June Foray
A Charlie Brown Christmas (TV Special 1965)
Animation | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas.

Director: Bill Melendez
Stars: Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer
Animation | Adventure | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them.

Director: Larry Roemer
Stars: Billie Mae Richards, Burl Ives, Paul Soles
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

When a man inadvertantly kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place.

Director: John Pasquin
Stars: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson
Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Ralphie has to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940s.

Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin
Frosty the Snowman (TV Movie 1969)
Animation | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A living snowman and a little girl struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman's magic hat.

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Stars: Jackie Vernon, Billy De Wolfe, Jimmy Durante
Comedy | Family | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Teenage twin girls swap places and scheme to reunite their divorced parents.

Director: David Swift
Stars: Hayley Mills, Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith
Drama | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Animation | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A mailman reveals the origin of Santa Claus.

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Stars: Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn
Elf (2003)
Comedy | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity.

Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser's redemption on Christmas Eve.

Director: Brian Henson
Stars: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire


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


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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Capture the spirit of Christmas with this timeless classic!


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

2 May 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Christmas Miracle on 34th Street  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Dr. Pierce explains Kris' belief that he is Santa Claus, he offers for comparative purposes a Hollywood restaurant owner who believes himself to be a Russian prince despite evidence to the contrary, but rather conveniently fails to recall the man's name. This was a reference to Michael Romanoff, owner of Romanoff's in Hollywood, a popular hangout for movie stars at the time. See more »


One of the letters to Santa Claus delivered by the New York Post Office is postmarked Indianapolis, Ind. See more »


Fred Gailey: Is it true that you're the owner of one of the biggest department stores in New York City?
Mr. R. H. Macy: THE biggest!
See more »


Referenced in Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation: Christmas Special (2009) See more »


Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
From the French melody "Ah ! vous dirai-je, Maman" (published 1761)
Played when the boy is sitting on Kringle's lap
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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?

30 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
It's sad how times have changed andiam-1
Why do ppl diss the colorized version? nikao86
The Ending Jeremy6100
Prosecution Assistant looked familiar tomtac
Glimpse of Deleted/Behind The Scenes HansGruber88
Dutch Scene Translated jarrodmon-1
Discuss Miracle on 34th Street (1947) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page