7.9/10
38,780
181 user 109 critic

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Family | 2 October 1947 (Argentina)
Trailer
2:02 | Trailer
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.

Director:

George Seaton

Writers:

George Seaton (written for the screen by), Valentine Davies (story)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Maureen O'Hara ... Doris Walker
John Payne ... Fred Gailey
Edmund Gwenn ... Kris Kringle
Gene Lockhart ... Judge Henry X. Harper
Natalie Wood ... Susan Walker
Porter Hall ... Granville Sawyer
William Frawley ... Charlie Halloran
Jerome Cowan ... Dist. Atty. Thomas Mara
Philip Tonge ... Julian Shellhammer
Learn more

More Like This 

Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 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
A Charlie Brown Christmas (TV Movie 1965)
Animation | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Depressed at the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning to Christmas.

Director: Bill Melendez
Stars: Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer
Animation | Short | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 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
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

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

Director: Larry Roemer
Stars: Billie Mae Richards, Burl Ives, Larry D. Mann
Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.

Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

When a man inadvertently makes Santa fall off of his roof on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place.

Director: John Pasquin
Stars: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson
Frosty the Snowman (TV Short 1969)
Animation | Short | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 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
Certificate: Passed Drama | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In the year leading up to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A mailman reveals the origin of Santa Claus.

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Stars: Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn
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, The Great Gonzo
Animation | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The Peanuts gang celebrates Halloween while Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin.

Director: Bill Melendez
Stars: Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Sally Dryer
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

Capture the spirit of Christmas with this timeless classic! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Family

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1999 Macy's Herald Square chose the film as the theme of its famed Christmas windows display. Its windows were adorned with miniature recreations of the film's most famous scenes with the old-fashioned mechanical style window displays that were phased out in the 1960s. Macy's Creative Design executive Sam Joseph said at the time, "I thought, wouldn't it be kind of cool to say goodbye to this century the way they said goodbye to the last century? What better vehicle to use than Miracle on 34th Street (1947)?" Maureen O'Hara was recruited as Macy's special guest who unveiled the windows to the public and signed autographs. "I know John Payne, Natalie Wood, and Kris Kringle are up in heaven looking down on us and smiling," she said. See more »

Goofs

After Tommy Mara leaves the witness stand, he goes over to Kris Kringle to remind him not to forget to bring him a football helmet. Kris Kringle tells him not to worry, he'll get the helmet, indicating that he (Santa) will be bringing him one. But after the case is over, the D.A. (Tommy's father) comments that he has to go buy a football helmet, indicating that he will be the one giving it to his son.

This is completely in character with Kris Kringle in this movie as he often is seen directing/guiding parents to finding the right presents for their children rather than giving these presents himself. Ultimately, the outcome is that Tommy gets the football helmet, so Kris has honoured his promise. See more »

Quotes

Fred Gailey: Your Honor, every one of these letters is addressed to Santa Claus. The Post Office has delivered them. Therefore the Post Office Department, a branch of the Federal Governent, recognizes this man Kris Kringle to be the one and only Santa Claus.
Judge Henry X. Harper: Uh, since the United States Government declares this man to be Santa Claus, this court will not dispute it. Case dismissed.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in two computer colorized versions. The film was first colorized in 1985 by Color Systems Technology, Inc. and again in 2006 by Legend Films using much-improved technology. Prints came with a disclaimer: "It has been altered without the participation of the principal director, screenwriter and other creators of the original film." See more »

Connections

Referenced in New York at the Movies (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Good King Wenceslas
(uncredited)
Written by John M. Neale (as John Mason Neale) and Thomas Helmore
See more »

User Reviews

Sweet movie not without social comment
15 September 2004 | by whitey54See all my reviews

This is certainly a lovely warmhearted movie, but since other reviewers have described the plot in detail, I'll move on to other topics.

I love movies like this for the insight they provide into the customs of a lost era. Watch the clothing - everybody is so dressed up! - women in dresses, gloves, and hats, men in hats and suits. Notice that when O'Hara enters a room filled with Macy's executives, even though they are the bosses and she is lower management, they all stand up instantly.

The social satire, most on display in the courtroom scenes, also is very 1940s. Apparently audiences of that era took a kind of genial corruption in the judicial system in stride. Business leaders, like "Mr. Macy" were expected to be sharp and profit-oriented, but also decent people like the rest of us. It's a much more nuanced view than the "businessman as criminal villain" so common in today's movies.

The character played by Maureen O'Hara probably needs explanation for modern viewers. Late 1940s audiences knew that the social and economic situation of a divorced working woman with a child was much more precarious than it is now. Divorce was still somewhat shocking - this is brought out neatly in the movie when her would-be lover does a double take when he learns from her daughter about the divorce - he probably had assumed she was a war widow. Divorced moms were still rare in the middle classes. Society universally agreed that women should stay home to raise their children. Economically, women in management positions were still very rare, couldn't expect promotion, and were last hired, first fired. I think O'Hara's performance brings out these qualities in a way that the audience of the 1940s would have understood easily. The character's stiffness, fear of losing control, and anxiety about her job make a great deal of sense. It would have been nice to see a few scenes showing her loosening up, perhaps at dinner with her boyfriend; no doubt those got left on the cutting room floor.

I really like the scene where Santa talks to the little Dutch orphan. First, this scene also must have resonated with the audience; in 1947 the western European countries had only started to recover from World War II, and probably many Americans were familiar with the idea of adopting a war orphan, just as many sent CARE packages. Second, by making Santa fluent in Dutch, the writer cleverly left the viewer thinking that hey, he might really be Santa Claus (isn't Santa Claus fluent in all languages)?

Some reviewers don't like the acting and think that modern actors are "better". I think the older actors aren't better or worse, just different. The audiences of the 1940s expected a certain style of acting, and the directors and actors gave that to them. Then as now, Hollywood paid top dollar and got very talented people, but like all of us they were shaped by their own time and place, more particularly the requirement to make movies that audiences would like. Move Maureen O'Hara to 2004, or Tom Cruise to 1947, and you'd see them acting in the style of that decade.


144 of 147 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 181 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Dutch

Release Date:

2 October 1947 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

It's Only Human See more »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,650,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed