Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 15

            I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. We are already at the half way point to Christmas and most of my preparations are still not done. Apparently, I didn't learn that much from Jingle All the Way. Regardless, let's find out what I'm watching for feature number 15.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

           It is safe to say that we are back with more traditional Christmas movie fare with this pick. I know that I have seen this version of Miracle on 34th Street at least once, but I'll admit that it is not the version that I am most familiar with. The one that I have seen most often is the 1994 remake. I almost selected that one for the list, but I opted for the original instead for two reasons. First, the 1994 remake is a John Hughes vehicle and with the Home Alone series I already had two of those. Second, my girlfriend has been watching these with me and somehow she is entirely unaware of the plot of Miracle on 34th Street. It wouldn't be fair to introduce it to her through a remake. Therefore, it had to be the original. This is the oldest film selected to this point and doesn't feature a single Muppet, how will I feel about this Christmas classic?


           Miracle of 34th Street opens at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. An old man sets about giving pointers to the man playing Santa during the parade line up. He is shocked to find that the man playing Santa is intoxicated. He sets off to find the person in charge to let them know that this is unacceptable. The person in charge, Doris Walker, agrees that they can't have a drunk Santa and hires the man, one Kris Kringle, on the spot as a replacement. He is such a hit in the parade that Macy's hires him as their in store Santa.

This it the only Santa with a nose redder than Rudolph's.

           While the parade is still going on Doris heads back to her apartment, we discover that she is a single mother and her daughter, Susan, has been raised by her to be practical and not give in to flights of fancy such as fairy tales or Santa Claus. We are also introduced to their next door neighbor, a lawyer named Fred Gailey who is friends with Susan and has a romantic interest in Doris. Things are going smoothly having Kris as Santa at Macy's until he starts making Susan start to believe that he is the authentic Santa. Doris seeks to get him to admit otherwise and is shocked to discover that his employee file lists his name as Kris Kringle (this is the first time she discovers this) and the reindeer as his next of kin. She decides to fire him but gets called to Mr. Macy's office before she can go through with it.
           In Mr. Macy's office she learns that Kris has been directing customers to which ever location has the presents they seek and not just internally to Macy's. Contrary to first impressions, this policy works as quite possibly the greatest public relations coup of the holiday season and Mr. Macy wants to adopt it store wide. Doris is still hesitant to keep Kris on but relents after speaking with the director of the old folk's home that he listed as his residence. Things keep going well. Susan and Doris grow to believe in Kris more and more and Doris and Fred are getting closer.
           Things take a turn for the worse when, after an argument over the treatment of another employee. Kris strikes the man who gives psych evaluations at Macy's with his cane. Kris is discouraged when, after this altercation, he is tricked in to going to Bellevue hospital. After meeting with Fred, he opts to make a legal challenge against his being committed. Through some interesting legal ploys and finally the fact that the U.S. Postal Service starts delivering letters to Santa to Kris in the courtroom he is found to be the legitimate Santa Claus.

Are we sure that the Post Office isn't just misdelivering these?
Final Thoughts

           Miracle on 34th Street is a classic for a reason. It is schmaltzy but it is the right kind of schmaltzy. Its story plays successfully with questions of sanity. As the viewer you are inclined to believe that Kris really is Santa early on, but the film does a good job of making you wonder whether you are right to do so. The simple story gets a boost from the quality of its acting. The two most important roles, Susan and Kris, are performed admirably by Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. The chemistry between them is enchanting and a joy to watch. Some may be put off by the fact that it is in black and white but that is a foolish reason to not give something a chance. This was a worth while watch and I wish it got a yearly network showing instead of It's a Wonderful Life. That's it for this one. Join me tomorrow to see what we'll be watching then. 

These two are really enjoyable to watch play off of each other.

No comments:

Post a Comment