So, Arthur Christmas and The Santa Clause both gave their interpretation of Father Christmas. Now it’s time for one of the best versions of Santa ever put on film.
And today it’s…
20th November, Day 21
Miracle On 34th Street (George Seaton, 1947)
A kindly old man calling himself Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) takes exception to a drunk and unconvincing Santa in the annual Macy’s parade. He demands to see the person in charge, Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara), who persuades him to replace the drunkard. Kringle is a hit, and becomes the permanent Santa for Macy’s. Doris’s thoroughly realistic daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) is taken to see Father Christmas by their neighbour Fred Gailey (John Payne), much to Doris’ annoyance. She wants her daughter to be raised to be practical and truthful, and so doesn’t want her head filling with stories and fantasies.
Walker also comes to realise that Kris Kringle really does believe that he is Father Christmas, and so sends him for a psychoanalytical evaluation. He passes with flying colours, but decides to move in with Fred, ostensibly so that he can travel to and from work easier, but also to allow him to spend more time with Susan and Doris. He sees them as a test case – if he can win them over and persuade them that he is real, then “there’s still hope”.
While working as Santa, Kringle starts recommending shoppers go to other stores if Macy’s are too expensive. At first outraged, the store manager is inundated with thanks from grateful shoppers pledging their future loyalty because of Kringle’s actions. This leads to the management deciding to make this an official policy, which is a move then copied by rival store Gimble’s. Firstly in New York, and then nationwide, this kind man’s simple action has resulted in a more friendly and less commercial Christmas. However, the jealous company doctor (who Kringle had slighted during his test) has it out for him, and goads Kringle into hitting him with a cane. This results in Kringle being arrested and put in a medical facility, after he deliberately fails the tests because he has let down Susan. Fred will not give up on Kringle though, and takes his case to court. Can Fred persuade the city of New York – and Susan – that Kris Kringle really is Santa?
This is a truly magical film. Edmund Gwenn is brilliant as Kringle, and you can almost feel the warmth between him and each of the other characters. He’s funny, charming, kind… I’m not sure anyone other than Richard Attenborough could possibly have be considered for the remake.
Also, for a film made in 1947 (and also when compared to the remake) this isn’t a soft, sentimental film. The film is basically about the commercialisation of Christmas, and there is a definite cynical streak to the film. Doris Walker is a divorced career woman trying to raise her daughter so she doesn’t rely on anyone but herself. The bad relationship with her ex-husband is hinted at, and O’Hara is fantastic. Payne as the kind lawyer (it is a fantasy film I guess!) is brilliant as well, and the supporting characters are all entertaining.
Overall, I give this
As if there was ever any doubt! Miracle on 34th Street is deservedly regarded as a classic, and it really is. A fantastic movie.
Well, that was good, so I wonder if the could remake it in and cast a film legend in the main role? We’ll find out tomorrow when I review MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Here’s my list so far
31st October, Day 1: The Nightmare Before Christmas
1st November, Day 2: Rocky IV
2nd November, Day 3: Edward Scissorhands
3rd November, Day 4: Trading Places
4th November, Day 5: Batman Returns
5th November, Day 6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
6th November, Day 7: Gremlins
7th November, Day 8: Eyes Wide Shut
8th November, Day 9: Love Actually
9th November, Day 10: Lethal Weapon
10th November, Day 11: Die Hard / Die Hard 2
11th November, Day 12: About A Boy
12th November, Day 13: Trapped In Paradise
13th November, Day 14: Reindeer Games
14th November, Day 15: Joyeux Noel
15th November, Day 16: Nativity / Nativity 2 / Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?
16th November, Day 17: Jack Frost
17th November, Day 18: Jack Frost
18th November, Day 19: Arthur Christmas
19th November, Day 20: The Santa Clause / The Santa Clause 2 / The Santa Clause 3
20th November, Day 21: Miracle On 34th Street