Miracle on 34th Street

Miracle on 34th Street

4.2 17
Director: George Seaton

Cast: George Seaton, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn

     
 

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Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, a bearded old gent who is the living image of Santa Claus. Serving as a last-minute replacement for the drunken Santa who was to have led Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, Kringle is offered a job as a Macy's toy-department Santa. Supervisor Maureen O'Hara soon begins having second thoughts about hiring Kris: it's bad enough that he is… See more details below

Overview

Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, a bearded old gent who is the living image of Santa Claus. Serving as a last-minute replacement for the drunken Santa who was to have led Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, Kringle is offered a job as a Macy's toy-department Santa. Supervisor Maureen O'Hara soon begins having second thoughts about hiring Kris: it's bad enough that he is laboring under the delusion that he's the genuine Saint Nick; but when he begins advising customers to shop elsewhere for toys that they can't find at Macy's, he's gone too far! Amazingly, Mr. Macy (Harry Antrim) considers Kris' shopping tips to be an excellent customer-service "gimmick," and insists that the old fellow keep his job. A resident of a Long Island retirement home, Kris agrees to take a room with lawyer John Payne during the Christmas season. It happens that Payne is sweet on O'Hara, and Kris subliminally hopes he can bring the two together. Kris is also desirous of winning over the divorced O'Hara's little daughter Natalie Wood, who in her few years on earth has lost a lot of the Christmas spirit. Complications ensue when Porter Hall, Macy's nasty in-house psychologist, arranges to have Kris locked up in Bellevue as a lunatic. Payne represents Kris at his sanity hearing, rocking the New York judicial system to its foundations by endeavoring to prove in court that Kris is, indeed, the real Santa Claus! We won't tell you how he does it: suffice to say that there's a joyous ending for Payne and O'Hara, as well as a wonderful faith-affirming denouement for little Natalie Wood. 72-year-old Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his portrayal of the "jolly old elf" Kringle; the rest of the cast is populated by such never-fail pros as Gene Lockhart (as the beleaguered sanity-hearing judge), William Frawley (as a crafty political boss), and an unbilled Thelma Ritter and Jack Albertson. Based on the novel by Valentine Davies, Miracle on 34th Street was remade twice: once for TV in 1973, and a second time for a 1994 theatrical release, with Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Miracle on 34th Street has been a favorite holiday movie since its release in 1947, and sharp-eyed observers may or may not have noticed that the film essentially retells the New Testament's story of the life of Jesus Christ. The movie was set in New York City in 1947 and utilized a large amount of location shooting (courtesy of Fox's Movietone News Studios, located in Manhattan) to give it a realistic texture; while screenwriter Valentine Davies' original story seems, superficially, to be the height of whimsy, about Santa Claus's appearance in the midst of that realistic setting, it becomes clear on closer examination that Davies borrowed liberally from the New Testament. Edmund Gwenn's Kris Kringle is almost more a substitute for Jesus than a screen-bound Santa. He enters a big city with his message of generosity and foresaking commercialism; he meets some doubters and some interested onlookers, and soon they're listening to him and starting to believe in him. Then he's betrayed and put on trial, not for his life but for his identity: he must prove he is who he says he is, or be imprisoned and labeled a madman and a pretender. The New York locations and use of New York "types," including Thelma Ritter's portrayal of a harried mother, Jack Albertson's postal worker, and Alvin Greenman as the simple, trusting Alfred (Greenman also appeared in the 1994 remake), only heightened the realism of this modified retelling of the trial of Jesus. And all of it was done so subtly--as opposed to, say, Frank Capra's more obvious retelling in Meet John Doe--that it was scarcely noticed by most viewers. However, the film adds a happy ending, reflecting a postwar feeling of confidence and helping to ensure its endurance across the decades.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/06/2009
UPC:
0024543617846
Original Release:
1947
Rating:
G
Source:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:36:00
Sales rank:
45,469

Special Features

Audio commentary by Maureen O'Hara; AMC Backstory: Miracle on 34th Street; Fox Movietonews: Hollywood spotlight; Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: Floating in History Featurette; Promotional short; Poster gallery

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Maureen O'Hara Doris Walker
John Payne Fred Gailey
Edmund Gwenn Kris Kringle
Natalie Wood Susan Walker
Harry Antrim R.H. Macy
Jerome Cowan D.A. Thomas Mara
William Forrest Dr. Rogers
Herbert Heyes Mr. Gimbel
Gene Lockhart Judge Henry X. Harper
Jack Albertson Postal Worker
Lela Bliss Mrs. Shellhammer
Teddy Driver Terry
William Frawley Charles Halloran
Robert Gist Window Dresser
Jane Green Mrs. Harper
Alvin Hammer Mara's Assistant
Percy Helton Santa Claus
Richard Irving Reporters
Robert Karnes Actor
Robert Lynn Macy's Salesman
Anne O'Neal Secretary
Steve Roberts Guard
Anthony Sydes Peter
Guy Thomajan Post Office Employee
Basil Walker Intern
Porter Hall Mr. Sawyer
Philip Tonge Mr. Shellhammer
Jeff Corey Reporter
Mary Field Mother
Alvin Greenman Alfred
Theresa Harris Cleo
Robert Hyatt Thomas Mara, Jr.
Harry "Snub" Pollard Mail-Bearing Court Officer
Thelma Ritter Peter's Mother
James Seay Dr. Pierce

Technical Credits
George Seaton Director,Screenwriter
Lloyd Ahern Cinematographer
Charles G. Clarke Cinematographer
Valentine Davies Original Story
Richard Day Art Director
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Richard Irvine Art Director
Arthur L. Kirbach Sound/Sound Designer
Ernest Lansing Set Decoration/Design
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Cyril Mockridge Score Composer
Kay Nelson Costumes/Costume Designer
Alfred Newman Musical Direction/Supervision
Ben Nye Makeup
William Perlberg Producer
Fred Sersen Special Effects
Robert L. Simpson Editor

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