Miracle on 34th Street (1947) Poster


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In the untranslated dialogue with the Dutch girl, Santa Claus asks the child what she wants for Christmas the girl says she wants nothing, telling Santa she got her gift by being adopted by her new mother.
The scenes of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are of the actual parade held in 1946. As such, careful preparation was necessary for the shots as retakes were obviously out of the question. 20th Century-Fox had cameras positioned along the parade route at the starting line at 77th Street, on Central Park West, on the 3rd floor of an apartment building at 253 West 58th Street, in Herald Square and on 34th Street at 7th Avenue.
According to Natalie Wood's biographer, during the shoot, the young actress was convinced that Edmund Gwenn was actually Santa Claus (by all accounts, Gwenn was a very good-natured man on the set). It wasn't until Wood saw him out of costume at the wrap party that she realized he wasn't Santa.
Maureen O'Hara was ultimately forced into her role against her will, as she had just returned to Ireland before being called back to America for the film. However, she immediately changed her sentiments upon reading the script.
Natalie Wood was eight years old when she made this film.
Both the actual Macy's and Gimbel's department stores were approached by the producers for permission to have them depicted in the film. Both stores wanted to see the finished film first before they gave approval. If either store had refused, the film would have had to been extensively edited and reshot to eliminate the references. Fortunately at the test viewing, both businesses were pleased with the film and gave their permission.
Unbeknownst to most parade watchers, Edmund Gwenn played Santa Claus in the actual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade held November 28, 1946. He fulfilled the duties of most parade Santas, including addressing the crowd from the marquee of Macy's after the parade was over. He was introduced to the crowd by actor Philip Tonge (he played Mr. Shellhammer in the movie) and he later unveiled the mechanical Christmas display windows to the accompaniment of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite." This gesture symbolized the opening of the Christmas shopping season at the store.
20th Century-Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck was very much against making this film because he thought it too corny to succeed. He finally agreed to a medium-sized budget provided writer/director George Seaton would accept his next three assignments unconditionally. Seaton, who desperately wanted to get the picture made, agreed.
According to Hedda Hopper's "Looking at Hollywood" newspaper column of May 3, 1947 "when the picture opens at the Roxy, Macy's will close for half a day so it's 12,000 employees can see the first showing."
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.
2006: Ranked #9 on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.
Ranked #5 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Fantasy" in June 2008.
Received a 'B' rating (morally objectionable in part) from the highly influential Legion of Decency because Maureen O'Hara played a divorcée.
There are 21 mail bags carried into the courtroom at the end of Kris's hearing.
Thelma Ritter's screen debut.
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.
The scenes at Macy's were shot on location at the main New York store on 34th Street itself. Shooting was complicated by the fact that the crew's power needs exceeded the store's electricity capacity and required additional power sources arranged in the store's basement.
The Dutch girl spoke true Dutch, but with a heavy American accent.
The role of Kris was originally offered to Cecil Kellaway, who turned it down. The role went to Edmund Gwenn, Kellaway's cousin. Cecil Kellaway did play Santa in the Bewitched (1964) script A Vision of Sugar Plums, which featured child star Bill Mumy.
In 2011, Maureen O'Hara (Doris Walker) and Alvin Greenman (Alfred) are the last surviving major/semi major cast members.
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 22, 1947 with Maureen O'Hara, Edmund Gwenn, John Payne and Natalie Wood reprising their film roles.
The song that the little Dutch girl sings is "Sinterklaas Kapoentje, Leg wat in mijn schoentje, Leg wat in mijn laarsje, Dank je Sinterklaasje!" One translation is "Saint Nicolas Little Rascal, Put something in my little shoe, Put something in my little boot, Thank you little Saint Nicolas!"
One of the first films to be colorized.
The real R.H. (Rowland Hussey) Macy died in 1877, 70 years prior to the time of the film.
Cinematographer Charles G. Clarke was taken off the picture and sent to Mexico to finish principal photography on the troubled production of Captain from Castile (1947). Lloyd Ahern replaced him.
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 20, 1948 with John Payne, Maureen O'Hara and Edmund Gwenn again reprising their film roles. The same studio broadcast another 60 minute adaptation, also with Gwenn, on December 21, 1954.
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 21, 1954 with Edmund Gwenn again reprising his film role.
"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 23, 1949 with Edmund Gwenn reprising his film role. The same studio broadcast a 60-minute version, also with Gwenn, on December 21, 1950.
In a separately filmed promotional trailer, actor Charles Tannen plays studio head Ed Schaeffer, a thinly disguised impersonation of Darryl F. Zanuck, and George E. Stone, Gene Nelson, and Harry Seymour play other studio executives at a mock screening of what was to be the original trailer for the film.
In a separately filmed promotional trailer, Rex Harrison, Anne Baxter, Peggy Ann Garner and Dick Haymes, all of whom were appearing in other Twentieth Century-Fox productions at the time, but not in this one, discuss the merits of the film.
The character of District Attorney Thomas Mara is clearly based on Thomas E. Dewey, a Manhattan District Attorney who went on to become the governor of New York and twice the (unsuccessful) Republican candidate for President (1944 and 1948). Jerome Cowan, the actor who played Mara, and Dewey bear a strong physical resemblance and both wore mustaches, highly unusual for professional men of the time. Also, the Judge mentions that the District Attorney is a Republican, also a rarity back then for elected officials in New York City.
Mr. Sawyer (Porter Hall) has a nervous habit of picking at his eyebrow. When he asks his secretary to phone for him she exhibits the same nervous habit.
In the '70s Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner were approached about doing a TV remake of the film with Natalie's daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner as Susan. Wood turned it down because she'd been a child star herself and didn't want her very young daughter to start acting at such an early age.
The Macys Christmas window displays were sold on to FAO Schwartz who in turn sold them on to Marshall & Ilsley Bank of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are displayed in the bank's lobby every December in its main branch in North Water Street.
The three succeeding projects that George Seaton went on to make for 20th Century Fox as a condition of being allowed to helm Miracle on 34th Street (1947) were Apartment for Peggy (1948), Chicken Every Sunday (1949) and The Big Lift (1950).
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.
Grossed over four times its budget.
Unusually there were two Christmas films nominated for Best Film at the 1947 Academy Awards - this and Henry Koster's The Bishop's Wife (1947). They join It's a Wonderful Life (1946) the year before as only three Christmas movies to be nominated for this coveted prize.
When Maureen O'Hara first got the script, it was called "The Big Heart".
Shot during a bitterly cold New York winter. On several occasions, the cameras literally froze.
Edmund Gwenn's beard was real.
Valentine Davies got the idea for the script whilst struggling through the Christmas shopping crowds, trying to find a present for his wife. The commercialism he saw made Davies wonder what the real Santa Claus would make of it all.
Natalie Wood was making two other films concurrently with Miracle on 34th Street (1947). She was also working on Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948) and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) at the same time.
Young Natalie Wood was completely thrown at the film's wrap party when Edmund Gwenn showed up without his beard.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The house that Susan sees at the end of the movie that all three characters enter is, according to the Nassau County Tax Records, located at 24 Derby Road in Port Washington, New York.

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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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