Miracle on 34th Street

Next to It’s a Wonderful Life, this may be the best classic Christmas movie. It surely has the best script among any of the classics. In fact, it won two Oscars in the writing category: Best Original Story (Valentine Davies) and Best Screenplay (George Seaton). Seaton also directed the movie, which was nominated for Best Picture in 1947. The film’s third Oscar win went to Edmund Gwenn as Best Supporting Actor.


Kris Kringle substitutes for a drunk fake Santa in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and is so convincing that he is then hired to be Macy’s Santa for the whole season. He tries to convince not only the daughter of the department store’s publicity department but also her daughter that he is the real Santa. After a dispute with someone in the HR department, Kris is sent to Bellevue where Kris intentionally fails a psychological test and is slated to be sent to an asylum. During the bench trial, things look bad until a minor miracle occurs, thanks to the Post Office and the judge dismisses the case, and Kris has convinced all the reluctant believers that he really is Santa Claus.


Santa Claus, parades, shopping, a massive tree, and transformational miracles.


This may be the most New York of all the Christmas classics. It was shot on location, including the start of the Macy’s parade in 1946. There are views of Central Park as the parade is readied. (Notice how small the trees are!) Then, of course, numerous scenes in Macy’s and in the Pearl Street Courthouse. And, of course, it’s one of two films in our watchlist with a name of a famed Manhattan street in the title.


Gene Lockhart plays Bob Cratchit in the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol and the mayor in Meet John Doe. Porter Hall appears in The Thin Man, and The Miracle on Morgan’s Creek. William Frawley appears in Good Sam and The Lemon Drop Kid.


Jerome Cowan, the district attorney, appeared in Shall We Dance? with Fred Astaire.


Great writing, clever acting, smart directing, shot in the world’s greatest city. What’s not to love?