Miracle on 34th Street (United States, 1947)

Figure 1.--

Miracle on 34th Street is certainly one of the classic Christmas films. It is a charming film and certaibly one the entire family can enjoy at Chrstmas. The film is about a little girl whose rather cynical mother has taught her that there is no Santa Clause and a eldely gentleman who claims to be Santa Claus. He as a result, is institutionalized as insane. A young lawyer has to resign from a law firm to defend him. Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his portral of Kris Kringle (Santa). The film, however, is set around Susan Walker (Natalie Wood), the sceptical little girl who was so enchanting in the film. Gwenn or we should say Chris Kringle (Santa) Santa manages to convince the little girl that he is really is Santa. (Actually Natalie at the time firmly believed that Santa Clause did exist and that Gwenn really was Santa which no doubt adds to the charm of the film.) Kris unfortunately proves to be an all too honest department store Santa who really listens to the children's requests and advises parents to shop for some of them at, horrors upon horrors--rival Gimbels. This gets him commited for insanity. One of the most charming scenes concerns the district attorney. He is proscecuting Chris for thinking that he is Santa. During the trial, his son (Bobby Hyatt) was supenoned and testified that he believed in Santa. Under questionng he points out that he knows Santa exists because his daddy (the district attorney) told him that Santa existed. The boy wore a short pants suit with long shorts, an Eton collar, and paterened top kneesocks. He was about 5 or 6 years old. The film was sent around the New York retail competition between Macy's and Gimble's. Both stores whose owners appeared in the film were given the right to back out of it upon seeing the final cut of the film--quite a risk in making it. There have been remakes of this movie, but noe has proven the equal of this classic. Incidentally, the Macy's Santa still presides at the 8th-floor SantaLand, a tranported Alpine village with plenty of twinkling lights, fake snow, hugh lollipops, cuddly bears, and the requisite massive candy canes. The former extensive Macy's toy department, however, along with the entire Gimbels store are now a part of New York retail history.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: March 7, 2002
Last updated: March 7, 2002