Movie Review: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Synopsis: A Macy's department store Santa impresses shoppers and inspires a nation-wide spirit of goodwill. There's just one problem, he insists he really is Santa Claus and ultimately faces being committed to a mental institution as a result. His only hope is a young lawyer who is determined to prove Kris Kringle really is Santa.

Who's in it? The movie stars Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Gene Lockhart.

Review: I wasn't planning on watching this movie last night. But, it happened to be on one of our movie channels and, since I hadn't seen it (at least in its entirety) in a long while, I decided to take the time to watch it. After doing so, I'm glad I did.

This is one of those movies that has been on TV so many times, people tend to grow a little tired of it after a while. But, 70 years after its first showing, I think it remains one of the best Christmas movies ever made.

I think the thing I like most about this film is the mystery surrounding Kris Kringle (Gwenn). Even though there is an effort made to prove he really is Santa Claus, the movie, technically at least, never really confirms that 100 percent. I, like many people, want to believe he is the real deal. And, there is plenty of evidence to support it. But, the movie never shows him with his reindeer, in the North Pole or (with one exception that is still left for interpretation) delivering presents.

This mystery adds to the overall charm of the film because it (much like the characters in the movie) requires you to rely on faith. A lot of other films need to learn from that.

Gwenn, himself, adds to that. He pulls of the Santa Claus role just the way I would expect it to be played. He looks and acts the part. But, he also manages to play it in a way where he also would be believable as a confused elderly man. And, either way, he remains one of the best Santas (real or fake) I've seen in a movie.

I think the only thing I still am not a fan of when it comes to this film is the annoyingly cute kids. This includes the skeptical Susan (Woods) and the somewhat irritating district attorney's son (Robert Hyatt). While it's not unusual to see the cute kid addition to a movie of this nature, too much cuteness can also be a bit of a distraction and never seems to win me over.

Final Opinion: This is a Christmas classic for a reason. If you haven't seen it or haven't watched it in a while, it's worth adding it to your must-watch list.

My Grade: A


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