Argumentative August #37 – Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – Tranquil Dreams
Rob and I would like to once again welcome you to another review for our Argumentative August Blogathon. This next film, Miracle on 34th Street is being reviewed by Kim at Tranquil Dreams. Let’s see what she thought of this movie….
Director: George Seaton
Cast: Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, Edmund Gwenn, Gene Lockhart
“When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.” – IMDB
As a kid, I watched the remake of Miracle of 34th Street. The one in 1994, of course. I’m a big fan of that one. Everything is perfect to me even it might not really be. Being in the blogosphere is when I first learned that the 1994 version was in fact a remake and that the original is black and white and made in 1947. I’m not sure what kept stopping me from watching this but thankfully for Rob and Ryan’s Argumentative August right here, I gave this one a watch for the first time.
I’m usually big fan of black of white movies. The age of it brings in a classy scene all the time and usually it has to do with using more “proper” English. Miracle on 34th Street is no different. While there are a few differences from the 1994 version, it still holds true to the story I remember of Miracle on 34th Street about our beliefs. However, I’m not saying that Miracle on 34th Street, this version isn’t great but maybe its because I grew up with 1994 version and there’s a sentimental value that I felt something was missing. It felt a little slow and honestly as a courtroom drama, which is what we’re discussing here, Kris Kringle gets all worked up and assaults someone literally halfway through the movie and the trial itself wasn’t really intense and it was partially humorous though.
I might sound like I’m hating on Miracle on 34th Street but there are quite a bit of redeeming qualities. For one, the cast, especially Maureen O’Hara and John Payne playing Doris Walker and Fred Gailey respectively has a better developed story. It really focuses less on their relationship than it is about Doris and her daughter Susan relearning what it is to believe in something and having faith/hope (whatever you’d like to call it) pretty much. This one also has a lot of really quotable lines. On the lines of Kris Kringle, while I’m a huge fan of the ’94 Richard Attenborough, Edmund Gwenn does a fine job as Santa Claus and he has a nice attitude and Santa Claus-y charm that I quite like as well. Now, Susan Walker is the central character here as well and while she doesn’t show up quite as much but Natalie Wood does a good portrayal. Susan Walker has a good balance between struggling versus wanting to believe, making her feel like a good balance between being mature and being a child, but that is what makes her character lovable.
I guess I do need to end this looking at the courtroom drama aspect of Miracle on 34th Street. The court itself is entertaining to watch. For one, the Judge is pretty hilarious because he just doesn’t want to be part of this. While, they still put the children on stage and then there’s the final part there Kris Kringle is recognized by the government and therefore makes him completely legit. Its a nice twist on the story. In its defense, I actually think that the aspect of using the psychiatrist (or whatever) who Kris Kringle hits is a more reasonable character for him to get worked up over. Regardless of the details, there is a joy in seeing Santa Claus and other people’s belief in him, plus seeing that he gets recognized by higher authority. There’s something always magical about watching Miracle on 34th Street that has to do with proving Kris Kringle (the old man in Miracle on 34th Street) of being the actual Santa Claus that makes it so magical and entertaining to watch.
Miracle on 34th Street is a solid movie. While nostalgia makes me like the 1994 version more, I do recognize how the 1947 original does a lot better. However, the courtroom drama portion is really just 50% of the movie but it is the core reason of what makes Miracle on 34th Street so heartwarming and entertaining as we watch Fred prove that Kris Kringle is actually the real Santa Claus, turning beliefs into facts.