That old rivalry between Macy's and Gimbel's rages on! Allegedly a Christmas fantasy with comic and romantic trimmings, this TV-made remake of the 1947 holiday perennial turns sour mighty quickly, probing into the psychological ramifications of a department store Santa Claus who believes he is, in fact, Kris Kringle. Sebastian Cabot would appear to be a great choice to replace Edmund Gwenn in the leading role, but director Fielder Cook never allows Cabot a magical moment, keeping the camera at a distance from him--and worse, keeping Kris in a perpetually combative mood. The romance initiated between hard-working single mom Jane Alexander and attorney David Hartman by Alexander's brainy daughter doesn't work, either; young Suzanne Davidson, playing a walking encyclopedia, is full of forced cuteness and unnatural sparkle. When Davidson spies Santa Cabot speaking Spanish to a little girl, she reacts as if she's seen a miracle, dropping her mouth open mechanically. In updating Valentine Davies' original story, I guess having Santa speak any other foreign language but Spanish was considered too outlandish. Yet, that's precisely the problem with this woebegone version: it hasn't an ounce of genuine wonderment or Christmas spirit.
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