Are you one of the skeptic who believe in the idea of a Santa Claus? If yes and if you want to stay a non-believer then don't see George Seaton's Miracle on 34th Street (1947). It gleams with Christmas spirit and goodwill that are mostly thin in the other so-called Christmas films. Along with "Its A Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story" (1983), 'Miracle' is a definitive classic, which gets us in the holiday spirit and leaves us with a warm feeling no matter how many times you see it.
This quintessential feel-good movie tells the story of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) -- a high-spirited old man, who actually believes he is Santa Claus. Kris is hired by Macy's department store to be their in-store Santa. He insists his employer, Doris (Maureen O' Hara), that he is the real Santa Claus. Doris is divorced workaholic supervisor, who has a smart second grade daughter Susan (Natalie Wood). She asks her child not to believe in Santa Claus or fairy tales. So, Kris' assertion scares Doris.
In the meantime, their neighbor, a handsome bachelor lawyer, Fred (John Payne), doesn’t understand why Doris vows on bringing her daughter up in a matter-of-fact world, when childish wonder is what she really needs. But, where Fred fails in making Doris understand, Kris succeeds: the old man and the young girl become friends. Maybe he can get her - and her mother - to have faith, to believe in something unprovable and providential, such as, Santa Claus.
If the real Santa Claus want to retire or take a vacation,then a guy like Edmund Gwenn might be the right candidate. He plays Kris Kringle with such natural and warm benevolence. Gwenn's charm with little Susan and his genuine attitude of generosity toward everybody are cherishable in any dark day. Natalie wood as Susan is so adorable and sweet, who can even melt the most blackened disbeliever's heart.
This is one the rare movie to win both the Oscars for screenplay (Seaton) and story (Valentine Davies). The genius of the screenplay is that no one ever authoritatively declares that Kris to be Santa, nor does it prove in any way that Santa even exists. Like Susan and Doris, we viewers also slowly begin to gain faith in the unprovable. The sharply written tale even makes smart, edgy observations about corrupt politics and cheap psychology. The movie final moments has a legal case, which forms the crux. The case touches the much larger issue of having faith in anything, let alone Santa. That scene is rife with possibilities for getting too sentimental, but the clever script remains true and confident to the story.
Those who dislike to watch black-and-white version could see the colorized version rather than the mawkish 1994 remake under the same name. Watch "Miracle on 34th Street" this Christmas to feel how kindness and decency will win over even the most cynical hearts, without ever getting too mushy on us.
Miracle on 34th Street - IMDb