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. Anyone else experiencing deja vu?
And today it’s…
21st November, Day 22
Miracle On 34th Street (Les Mayfield, 1994)
Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough) has an argument with the man due to play Santa in the annual Cole’s parade. The man is drunk, so Dorey Walker (Elizabeth Perkins) sacks him and asks Kringle to take his place in the parade. Kringle agrees, and is a runaway success, becoming Cole’s full time Father Christmas. Dorey’s daughter Susan (Mara Wilson) is watching the parade from their neighbour’s apartment with Dorey’s boyfriend Bryan Bedford (the ever dependable Dylan McDermott), but is rather unimpressed. She’s a realistic and practical child, who doesn’t believe in Santa. When Bryan takes Susan to see Kringle, she still doesn’t believe in him, although she does take a liking to him.
Kringle starts telling parents where they can get expensive presents cheaper, even sending them to Shopper’s Express, Cole’s main rival. This leads to a huge increase in sales from the grateful shoppers, although it leads to some of Shopper’s Express management getting jealous of his success. They get the man got fired from being Santa to follow Kringle one night, and goads him into a physical confrontation. This leads to Kringle being arrested, and, heartbroken, he deliberately fails some tests and ends up in a medical facilities. Bryan goes to visit him, and persuades him to not give up on the modern, commercialised Christmas. He goes to court to prove the Kris Kringle really is Santa. Does the city of New York still believe in Santa Claus?
This is another magical Christmas film. Modernising the concept gives a new dimension, and the trial takes on even more importance than in the original. The supporting roles are beefed up a bit, with James Remarr and Jane Leeves as Shopper’s Express managers being particularly enjoyable. There’s also a lovely turn from Robert Prosky as the judge who has to preside over the Kringle case.
I actually didn’t enjoy the court case as much as in the original, which seems to paint Kringle as slightly delusioned, explaining that his workshops are invisible and his reindeer only fly at Christmas. No matter how good-natured he is, he would understand how silly he sounds, especially when he realises how important winning the court case is. Still, picking apart the legal case is a bit silly in a film as heart warming as this.
And of course, Richard Attenborough is perfect as Santa. Absolutely perfect.
Overall, I give this:
The remake is not quite as good as the original, but with Richard Attenbrough taking the role of Kris Kringle, it’s a magical Christmas film.
So, that’s my run on Santa done. Six films in four days! Next up, I’m having a look at some of the various depictions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starting with the Bill Murray star vehicle SCROOGED!
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
21st November, Day 22: Miracle On 34th Street