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“Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.”
Is there a more classic Christmas movie than Miracle on 34th Street? I make sure to watch this one during the week of Thanksgiving, and it is a treasured part of my holiday traditions.
- Year: 1947
- Starring: Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwen and Natalie Wood
Synopsis from IMDB: After a divorced New York mother hires a nice old man to play Santa Claus at Macy’s, she is startled by his claim to be the genuine article. When his sanity is questioned, a lawyer defends him in court by arguing that he’s not mistaken.
Why I Love It:
- Movies set in the 1940’s are some of my favorites. I love the clothes, the hair, and their etiquette.
- Mareen O’Hara is one of my favorite leading ladies. I’ve always admired the character she plays here – a strong, confident and composed working mom who is an excellent hostess and shows kindness and compassion to those in her life.
- It’s funny! There are so many great lines and quotable moments. William Frawley has a small part as a friend of the judge, but his character is one of my favorites.
- I love how it discussed popular psychology of the day (latent maniacal tendencies and being mal-adjusted), politics (“The district attorney is a Republican!”) and economics (“There’s a lot of bad ‘isms in the world, but one of the worst is commercialism”).
It’s Worth Mentioning That:
- The film takes place from November 28 to December 25, 1946.
- There is a colorized version of this film, but I much prefer the classic black and white.
- Filmed on location in NYC, the scenes of the Thanksgiving Day parade are from the actual parade that year! The actor who played Kris Kringle really appeared as Santa in the parade. Can you imagine being able to say you were in the crowd that day?!
- “Lux Radio Theater” broadcast a 60-minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 22, 1947, with Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn, John Payne, and Natalie Wood reprising their film roles. You can hear it here!
Here is a little taste of the movie:
It’s impossible to watch this scene without tearing up. Loosely translated, Kris Kringle asks her what she wants for Christmas and the little girl replies that she got everything she wanted when the kind lady adopted her.
Here’s an example of Maureen O’Hara’s character as I described her – composed, confident and kind.
This scene does contain spoilers (if you haven’t seen this movie yet – what are you waiting for?!) but it is one of the best in the movie. I love the way he spins her around to kiss her! It’s classic Hollywood romance.
I’ve always been confused about the last line where Fred says “maybe I didn’t do such a great thing after all…” I did some research and it seems that lots of people scratch their heads about what he meant there. Here are a few possible explanations:
- He realized that Kris bought the house, and thus they would all be living together. (That’s always been my best guess!)
- He was patting himself on the back for winning the case and getting the courts to concede that an eccentric old man was Santa (when he actually wasn’t Santa). Seeing Kris’s cane, Fred realizes that Kris actually is Santa and all he did was prove the truth…which shouldn’t be hard to do. He’s saying “maybe I’m not as amazing a lawyer as I thought I was.”
- It is supposed to be open to interpretation.
What do you think?
Where To Watch It:
You might even be able to find it for free on YouTube. Just search the movie title or “[movie title] full movie.”
If You Like This, You Also Might Enjoy:
- The Shop Around The Corner
- White Christmas – next month’s Comfort Classics Review!
Have you seen Miracle on 34th Street? If not, have I convinced you to give it a watch?
This post is part of my Comfort Classics Series, where I review a classic film from my list of favorites.