Macy’s event director Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) hires Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) as a santa, first for the Thanksgiving Day Parade and then at the Macy’s store… but it turns out that Kringle actually believes that he’s Santa. A perennial Christmas classic, a cute story about a jolly, elder man who is a real believer and a young girl who’s raised with the truth. Whether or not Santa is for real becomes a court case, and there’s a romance as well between Doris and a neighbor/attorney (John Payne). Wonderful New York sentiments, and I’m sure that Macy’s loved the myth-making attention. A superb cast, with Gwenn making an unforgettable impression, and Natalie Wood in her most famous child part.
1947-U.S. 96 min. B/W. Produced by William Perlberg. Written and directed by George Seaton. Story: Valentine Davies. Cast: Maureen O’Hara (Doris Walker), John Payne (Fred Gailey), Edmund Gwenn (Kris Kringle), Gene Lockhart, Natalie Wood, Porter Hall… Thelma Ritter, Jack Albertson.
Trivia: Ritter’s film debut. Remade as Miracle on 34th Street (1973) and Miracle on 34th Street (1994).
Oscars: Best Supporting Actor (Gwenn), Screenplay, Original Story. Golden Globes: Best Supporting Actor (Gwenn), Screenplay.
Last word: “Everyone felt the magic on the set and we all knew we were creating something special. I am very proud to have been part of a film that has been continually shown and loved all over the world for nearly sixty years. ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ has endured all this time because of the special relationship of the cast and crew, the uplifting story and its message of hope and love, which steals hearts all over the world every year. I don’t think I will ever tire of children asking me, ‘Are you the lady who knows Santa Claus?’ I always answer, ‘Yes, I am. What would you like me to tell him?'” (O’Hara, “Tis Herself: A Memoir”)