It’s sad, and I know it. I never watched “Miracle on 34th Street” before this year. I had seen a couple of minutes as I walked in and out of the family room in my childhood home (my dad loved watching old movies). I remember vaguely the courtroom with Santa in his chair, but that’s it.
And, yes Virginia, I’ve missed out. This is a fabulous film.
“Miracle” opens with Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade with Doris Walker, the producer of the parade, being faced with a drunk fake Santa. She’s given this information by a delightful old man who himself could be Santa, and she quickly pulls him into action, placing him on the float. Her daughter Susan (played by a young Natalie Wood), is excited when she sees this new Santa and tells her mom as much. As do many others, and soon this man becomes the Macy’s Santa in the store.
That’s when we learn his name: Kris Kringle. Yep. He’s the big man himself. Well, the store reps think nothing of it, until he starts sending people to other stores to find the items they want. “You know Gimbels has exactly what you’re looking for; Macy’s doesn’t carry it.” This almost gets him fired (because why would you send people to your competitors?).
Yet it endears patrons to Macy’s, and when Mr. Macy hears, he can’t believe the brilliance behind it. Kris, of course, was just being honest. It’s brilliant.
Kris comes to live with Doris’ next door neighbor and love interest Fred during the holiday season as he has a spare bed. Soon, however, Kris’ eccentricity begins to show, and Doris—and avowed disbeliever—feels that he’s taking the Santa thing too far. Susan, however, knows he’s really Santa.
The plot moves us to Kris’ meeting with doctors and ultimately a court case trying to prove he’s really Santa. It’s truly wonderful.
It shouldn’t be surprising then that I give it my highest rating:
This movie really zeroes in on the true meaning of Christmas, the sharing of joy with all the world and not being overcome by materialism.
Next up: 8 Women.