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 great Edmund Gwenn shines as Kris Kringle, an elderly, eccentric man who may or may not be the real Santa Claus. Little Natalie Wood thinks he is, though, and that's all that matters. This movie, written by Valentine Davies, has become, along with It's a Wonderful Life, a Christmas classic, and deservedly so. It is not, I imagine, in the same league as the Capra film (what is?), but it's an awfully good little movie in its own right; and while it presents its characters and issues pleasingly it does not push the envelope too much in any one direction, as one can respond to its whimsical little story any way one pleases.
Like so many films of the immediate postwar period it stresses the faith and wisdom of small children (as,--literally--opposed to adults); and its message is that children are perhaps wiser than we think. Considering the mess that grownups had made of the world in the previous two decades it must have been difficult for movie audiences of the time to disagree. Indeed, much of the mood of the postwar era was based at least partly on this premise, as children became central to our culture as never before. Their whims and wishes became paramount. Perhaps, in the end, too much so. One can see the start of all this in Miracle On 34th Street, whose gentle message still rings true today, every year, in the waning days of December.
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