Greetings everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season. This can be a very stressful time of year for a lot of people for many reasons. The biggest reason, of course, is when it comes to shopping for Christmas presents.
That’s why I want to go over one of the great Christmas classics, Miracle on 34th Street. This film from 1947 is truly one of my favorite Christmas movies. It’s also one of those films that sounds kind of crazy when you try to describe it. For those of you that haven’t seen this film or the remakes, there are going to be plenty of spoilers.
The film starts with an old man wandering around New York, at the time of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. As he walks around, he discovers that the man that is supposed to portray Santa in the parade is drunk. The old man agrees to play Santa in the parade, and is so good in the role that he is offered the position of being the Santa at Macy’s.
From here, we learn that the old man believes himself to actually be Santa Claus, going so far as to call himself Kris Kringle. Everyone else thinks that Kris is insane, but he is so charming and likeable that they don’t really care if he is a little crazy. He also manages to, unintentionally, get the major store owners to commercialize good will.
Of course, every film needs an antagonist, so this film has a psychiatrist at Macy’s have Kris committed. I’m not sure why they decided to make a psychiatrist the villain of the film, but it kind of works for this story. The last third of the film revolves around a court case to determine whether or not Kris should be locked up in a mental institution.
One of the things I really like about this film is that it never explicitly reveals whether or not there really is a Santa Claus in this movie’s universe. The movie implies that Kris might actually be Santa, but it also lays enough clues to suggest that he is just a well-meaning old man that happens to be a little crazy. The ending does kind of lean in the direction of Kris being Santa, but it’s still open to interpretation.
Of course, like with any popular film, this one had a ton of remakes and adaptations. The first was a television special in 1955, which I sadly can’t find that much information on. This special shortened the story to an hour, so I imagine they had to leave out some of the better material from the original film.
The next adaptation was another television special in 1959. This one was notable for starring Ed Wynn as Kris. That’s right, the guy with the goofy voice that played the Mad Hatter in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (the good one, not the live action film).
The next remake came in 1973. This film was notable for being very faithful to the original. In fact, the only difference that I can think of is in the scene where Kris talks to a girl that doesn’t speak English. The original film had the girl only being able to speak Dutch, while the 1973 film has her only able to speak Spanish.
The last remake, and the version that most of the people reading this are probably familiar with, is the 1993 film. I never really cared for this film, as I thought they made too many unnecessary changes to the story. There are a lot of people that really enjoy this film though, so I’m not going to complain about this version of the story too much.
That about does it for the Miracle on 34th Street films. If you get a chance, I highly recommend watching the 1947 original. With that said, I really need to get my Christmas shopping done. If I manage to get that done early enough, I might go ahead and make some posts discussing some of the other classic Christmas films that I grew up with.