Film Review: “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) ★★★★★


If you think Santa Clause does not exist, and all the beautiful stories about him are nothing more than fantasy, then it`s probably time to see “Miracle on 34th Street”, where the debate, discussion, and arguments will take everyone who watches into the court room, where even the judge will find himself confused about whether to believe in Santa or not? In this old classic, and heartwarming film, we certainly want to believe that Santa Claus really exists, or at least that he can easily be found at his temporary address, 34th street, where miracles happen every day.

It all begins one afternoon on 34th street of New York City. Outside of Macy`s department store, the Annual Macy`s Thanksgiving parade is underway. The store director, Doris Walker (Maureen O`Hara) is giving instructions about how she wants things to go during the parade. Meanwhile, a kindly old man with a long, white beard, makes his way into the parade, where he discovers that the man hired to play Santa Claus is drunk.  The old man is furious with him, and feels so ashamed of him that he informs Doris of the situation. She becomes mad and desperate; she has no replacement for him… Until she sees this nice, old man and realizes that he would be an excellent Santa Claus for her parade. The old man, who introduces himself as Mr. Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwen), kindly agrees to replace the drunken Santa. And from that moment on, the Macy`s parade turns out to be a huge success. But, everyone wants to know only one thing: who is Mr. Kringle?

Doris Walker, played by Maureen O`Hara does not believe in Santa Claus or any magic at all, and this is why she makes sure that her adorable little daughter Susan, played by young Natalie Wood, thinks the same way. Doris almost achieves her goal in making her daughter not believe in anything that is told in fairy tales, or anything related to Santa Claus. All that will soon change once both Doris and Susan witness the Miracle on 34th street, where Susan (Natalie Wood) will start to believe in something they could have never imagined.

Everything happens so fast in the film; giddy success, happy children running around, and the store owners that are incredibly happy about Mr. Kringle, that nobody notices when things begin to go awry. This is the best part of “Miracle on 34th Street” where you never have a break because as the film progresses it brings you from one situation to another, making us more curious and amazed by everything that happens on 34th street.  Everything begins to happen when Mr. Kringle is hired on as the Santa Claus for the department store after his appearance in the parade, and he instantly has children lined up to see him. But, when Mr. Kringle claims that he is the real Santa Claus, he is institutionalized as insane. A young attorney, Mr. Gailey (John Payne), with the support of Doris and Susan, decide to defend him and they argue in court that Mr. Kringle is the real Santa Claus.

George Seaton directed this film back in 1947, when Hollywood was still golden. Not sure if he himself knew that even today, when 2015 is just around the corner, his “Miracle on 34th Street” would be one of the most watched Christmas films ever, and a true delight from a very different era. Seaton takes an interesting approach in his film; he makes Santa Claus look more lifelike than ever. The cast he brings is absolutely outstanding. The match between Maureen O`Hara and John Payne is contagious and unforgettable, while Natalie Wood will certainly be remembered by all of us as Susan from “Miracle on 34th Street, and as Maria from West Side Story.

In conclusion, Miracle on 34th Street” is one of those films that does not have heavy dialogue, or any scenes we would want to skip. It`s a perfect Christmas movie filled with much love, heart and caring, in every single scene of Seaton`s film, which makes it one of the greatest Christmas films ever made and truly stands the test of time.

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