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In the untranslated dialogue with the Dutch girl, Kris asks her what she wants for Christmas. She says she wants nothing, telling him she got her gift by being adopted by her new mother.
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When Edmund Gwenn accepted his Best Supporting Actor Oscar, he said, "Now I know there's a Santa Claus."
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The film was shot during a bitterly cold New York winter. On several occasions, the cameras literally froze. Maureen O'Hara remembered that a woman named Vaughn Mele lived across the street from where they were shooting exteriors and allowed the crew to warm up in her house. In gratitude, O'Hara took her and her husband to the famed "21" restaurant and she was so excited all she could drink was a glass of milk.
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The house shown at the end of the film is a 1703-square-foot single family home built in 1943 at 24 Derby Road, Port Washington, New York. It looks practically the same as it did then, except the roof line has been altered by the addition of a window.
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According to Natalie Wood's biographer, during the shoot she was convinced that Edmund Gwenn was actually Santa Claus (by all accounts, he was a very good-natured man on the set). It wasn't until she saw him out of costume at the wrap party that she realized he wasn't Santa.
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Unbeknownst to most parade watchers, Edmund Gwenn played Santa Claus in the actual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade held on November 28, 1946. He fulfilled the duties of most parade Santas, including addressing the crowd from Macy's marquee after it was over. He was introduced to the crowd by Philip Tonge, who played Mr. Shellhammer, and 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 season there.
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Maureen O'Hara's time with Natalie Wood was something she always treasured. "I have been the mother to almost forty children in movies, but I have always had a special place in my heart for little Natalie," she said. "She always called me Mamma Maureen and I called her Natasha, the name her parents had given her."
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Both Macy's and Gimbel's were approached by the producers for permission to have them depicted in the film. Both wanted to see the finished film first before they gave approval. If either had refused, the film would have had to been extensively edited and re-shot to eliminate the references. Fortunately, at the test viewing both were pleased with the film and gave their permission.
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The cast and crew were unanimous in their opinion of Edmund Gwenn: they loved him. Alvin Greenman, who played Alfred, called him "a dear, dear man," and Robert Hyatt, who played Tommy Mara, Jr., said in a 2001 interview, "He was a really nice guy, always happy, always smiling. He had this little twinkle in his eye." Added Maureen O'Hara: "...by the time we were halfway through the shoot, we all believed Edmund really was Santa Claus. I've never seen an actor more naturally suited for a role."
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In her autobiography, Maureen O'Hara nicely summed up what the film had come to mean to her over the years. "Everyone felt the magic on the set and we all knew we were creating something special. I am very proud to have been part of a film that has been continually shown and loved all over the world for nearly sixty years. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) has endured all this time because of the special relationship of the cast and crew, the uplifting story, and its message of hope and love, which steals hearts all over the world every year. I don't think I will ever tire of children asking me, 'Are you the lady who knows Santa Claus?' I always answer, 'Yes, I am. What would you like me to tell him?'"
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The scenes at Macy's were shot on location at the main 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 basement.
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Valentine Davies got the idea for the script while struggling through the Christmas shopping crowds, trying to find a present for his wife. The commercialism he saw made him wonder what the real Santa Claus would make of it all.
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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 its 12,000 employees can see the first showing."
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On Kris' employment card, he's listed the names of Santa's reindeer as his next of kin. While Donner is used frequently, the correct spelling, according to a handwritten manuscript by Clement Moore, is actually Donder, and that's how it appears on Kris' employment card.
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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 third floor of an apartment building at 253 West 58th Street, in Herald Square, and on 34th Street at 7th Avenue. "It was a mad scramble to get all the shots we needed, and we got to do each scene only once," said Maureen O'Hara in her 2004 autobiography "'Tis Herself". "It was bitterly cold that day, and Edmund and I envied Natalie and John Payne, who were watching the parade from a window."
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The film received a "B" rating (morally objectionable in part) from the highly influential Legion of Decency because Maureen O'Hara played a divorcee.
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Robert Hyatt came up with his "because my daddy told me so" line. That wasn't in the original script.
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Unusually, there were two Christmas films nominated for Best Picture at the 1947 Academy Awards - this one and Henry Koster's The Bishop's Wife (1947). They join It's a Wonderful Life (1946) the year before as the only three Christmas movies to be nominated for Best Picture.
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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!"
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The entire cast enjoyed a special bond, according to Maureen O'Hara, and always got along beautifully throughout the production. "Each evening, when we were not working," recalled O'Hara, "Edmund Gwenn, John, and I went for a walk up Fifth Avenue. Natalie had to go to bed, but we didn't. We stopped and window shopped at all the stores, which were beautifully decorated for the holidays. Edmund especially loved those nights and acted more like the kid who might be getting the presents instead of the Santa who would be giving them. I got such a big kick out of seeing the expressions of window dressers when they saw Edmund peering in at them - I knew then that he was going to make a big splash as Santa Claus."
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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 he rather conveniently fails to recall his name. This was a reference to Michael Romanoff, owner of Romanoff's in Hollywood, a popular hangout for movie stars at the time.
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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.
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The film grossed over four times its budget.
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Alvin Greenman, who played Alfred, was the last surviving cast member at the time of his death on July 14, 2016 at the age of 86.
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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.
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In 2006, the film was ranked #9 on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.
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The Dutch girl spoke true Dutch, but with a heavy American accent.
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In 1999 Macy's chose the film as the theme of its famed Christmas windows display. The 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, "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.
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In the 1970s, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner were approached about doing a TV remake of the film with Natalie Wood's daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, as Susan. Wood turned it down because she'd been a child star herself and didn't want Natasha to start acting at such an early age.
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The Macy's Christmas window displays were sold to FAO Schwartz, which in turn sold them to Marshall & Ilsley Bank of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are displayed in the lobby every December in its main branch on North Water Street.
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Unusual for a major studio film, characters identified with a competing studio (Warner Brothers' Bugs Bunny, Beaky Buzzard, etc.) are prominently featured on the walls of Macy's Santa Claus display.
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John Payne hoped to do a sequel to his dying day, and even took matters into his own hands. "John really believed in and loved Miracle on 34th Street (1947)," said Maureen O'Hara, "and always wanted to do a sequel. We talked about it for years, and he eventually even wrote a screenplay sequel. He was going to send it to me, but tragically died before he could get around to it. I never saw it and have often wondered what happened to it."
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The real R.H. (Rowland Hussey) Macy died in 1877, 70 years prior to the time of the film.
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The rivalry between Macy's and Gimbels depicted in the film was very real. They were just blocks from each other in New York and major competitors for the same business. The rhetorical question "Does Macy's tell Gimbels?" was a popular phrase used throughout the 1930s-1960s, which meant that business competitors are not supposed to share trade secrets with one another.
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Percy Helton, who played the drunk Santa, was also in White Christmas (1954), where he played the train conductor.
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Maureen O'Hara was welcomed back to Macy's in 2004 where she made an official appearance to sign copies of her autobiography "'Tis Herself".
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According to the number of toothpicks on the table next to the telephone, Mrs. Shellhammer has apparently drank nine martinis by the time she calls Mrs. Walker.
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The film was one of the first ones to be colorized in 1985, resulting in some controversy and an uproar from film purists.
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This was Alvin Greenman's film debut in the uncredited role of Alfred. He later played another Alfred in the 1994 remake Miracle on 34th Street (1994), which was his final film. He is the only actor to appear in both films. He is also credited as Santa in his final film.
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John Payne, who had starred in many films at 20th Century Fox, had been unhappy about the quality of roles he was being given, and when he read the story, it was rumored (and later disputed by his daughter) that he bought the film rights as a starring vehicle for himself.
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20th Century Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck was very much against making this film because he thought it was 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 film made, agreed. The three subsequent films he went on to direct for 20th Century Fox after it were "Apartment for Peggy" (1948), "Chicken Every Sunday" (1949), and "The Big Lift" (1950).
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Natalie Wood was making two other films concurrently with this one: Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948) and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947).
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Natalie Wood was eight years old when she made this film.
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"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.
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The film's original title was "Christmas Miracle on 34th Street" but because the release date was moved to the summer, the first word was dropped from the title . Other working titles included "The Big Heart," "My Heart Tells Me," and "It's Only Human."
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The character of 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, who played him, and Dewey bear a strong physical resemblance and both wore mustaches, highly unusual for professional men of the time. Also, Judge Harper mentions that the District Attorney is a Republican, which is also a rarity back then for elected officials in New York City.
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The "wonderful bargain" of $8.50 for the toy fire engine would be worth $99.32 in today's money.
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Gene Lockhart, who played Judge Harper, costarred in another Christmas classic, playing Bob Cratchit in Edwin L. Marin's A Christmas Carol (1938).
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After Thomas Mara's son, Thomas Jr., finishes testifying he tells Kris, "Don't forget, a real official football helmet." Tim Mara was the owner of the New York Giants at that time.
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This film is included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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The film ranked #5 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Fantasy" in June 2008.
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The Post Office Department was a Cabinet-level department of the executive branch of the U.S. federal government from 1829 until 1971.
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The film was shot on location in New York City, which was new for the studio, 20th Century Fox. This was only their second movie shot there. The first was The House on 92nd Street (1945).
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The film was the only one to feature an Oscar-winning Santa Claus portrayal, as played by Edmund Gwenn.
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The role of Kris was originally offered to Cecil Kellaway, who turned it down. The role went to Edmund Gwenn, Kellaway's cousin. Kellaway did play Santa in Bewitched: A Vision of Sugar Plums (1964), which featured child star Bill Mumy.
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Susan's letter to Kris contains a three cent stamp (first class postage) and a 13 cent stamp (special delivery).
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The film won three of the four awards it was nominated for at the Academy Awards, but lost Best Picture to Gentleman's Agreement (1947).
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"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. It broadcast another 60-minute adaptation, also with Gwenn, on December 21, 1954.
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The film was the only Best Picture Oscar nominee of the year to be also nominated for Best Story.
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The film takes place from November 28 to December 25, 1946.
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Kris Kringle makes a reference to the B-29, a World War II bomber aircraft. While enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces during that war, costar John Payne had recently starred in a training film as a B-29 co-pilot.
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Granville 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.
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"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30-minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 23, 1949, with Edmund Gwenn reprising his film role. It broadcast a 60-minute version, also with him, on December 21, 1950.
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The film was the only one of 1947 to be Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, but not Best Director.
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When Maureen O'Hara first got the script, it was called "The Big Heart".
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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 Sr. replaced him.
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In a separately filmed promotional trailer, Rex Harrison, Anne Baxter, Peggy Ann Garner, and Dick Haymes, who were appearing in other 20th Century Fox productions at the time, but not in this one, discuss its merits.
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In a separately filmed promotional trailer, 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.
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Kris's velvet costume doesn't appear to be fresh from the Fox studios wardrobe department. The area around and under his big belt shows well-worn nap.
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When Kris is talking to Granville Sawyer he first implies that Granville presents himself as a psychiatrist then he switches to him as a psychologist.
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When Charlie talks to Judge Harper he says "the CIO and the AF of L" will be upset if the judge says there is no Santa Claus. The two labor federations would merge in 1955 to become the AFL-CIO.
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When Judge Harper is talking to his political friend he says the CIO and the AF of L instead of the traditional way the AF of L and the CIO, since this was before the merger of the two unions in 1955.
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When Kris prints he is "as old as my tongue, and a little older than my teeth," he means he didn't have teeth as a baby.
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An oversized coffee table book on the film, "Miracle on 34th Street: A Hollywood Classic" by Sarah Barker Danielson was published in 1994 by Smithmark.
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The house that Susan sees at the end of the movie that she, Doris, and Fred enter is, according to the Nassau County Tax Records, located at 24 Derby Road in Port Washington, New York.
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21 mailbags are carried into the courtroom at the end of Kris' hearing.
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