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>
There's a "legend" connected with this film, one which has recently gained new life via AMC: Supposedly, upon completion of principle filmmaking, 1947's "Miracle On 34th Street" then had to be submitted to the heads of Macy's and Gimble's department stores who -- had either man withheld approval -- could have cost 20th Century Fox a small fortune in rewrites and reshootings.
Frankly, in view of the fact that much of "Miracle" had already been shot on location in Macy's New York City store (to say nothing of the fact that studio heads of that era -- or any era, for that matter -- were notoriously prone not to take such financial risks), this "legend" is likely just so much "hype," otherwise known as "nonsense."
Thankfully, this is the only trace of phoniness attached to this jewel of a movie. "Miracle On 34th Street" is just that, in every sense of the word: a miracle.
Take a perfectly-crafted, thoughtful screenplay. Add an impeccable cast (from top-to-bottom, by the way; catch, just as one example, Thelma Ritter's uncredited turn as "Peter's Mother"). Throw into this mix an on-location "shoot" (along with Macy's, there's the store's actual 1946 Thanksgiving Parade, footage in a post office facility and a courthouse) which gives this film a nice sense of verisimilitude . . . just in case you're not already prepared (courtesy of Edmund Gwenn, in a totally-deserved Oscar-winning performance) to recapture your belief in Santa Claus.
"Miracle On 34th Street" is many things: a celebration of the Christmas spirit, a heartfelt plea against the "over-commercialism" (even in 1947)of Christmas, an examination of faith itself . . . just to name a few.
It works on every level. Every bit as well today, 54 years after its initial release, as then. Don't waste your time with the remakes -- both on TV as well as theatrical productions (and the less said about an abortive 1963 Broadway musical adaptation, "Here's Love," the better.)
Go for the original film. Go for the genuine article. Again and again and again.
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