On 34th Street (1947)
Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood.
time: 96 mins..
Gwenn deservedly won an Oscar for his wonderful turn as a
Macy's store Santa in this Christmas classic. After A
Christmas Carol and It's
A Wonderful Life, this is third on my list of the Best
usually with the puritans when it comes to the issue of colourizing
old black and white movies, but I have to admit the technicians
have done a great job here - it really does look even better
than the superb original. However, if you don't even want
to look at it in colour, the good news is that Fox has packaged
both the original and colourized versions in a two-DVD set
from 2006 that also includes some great extra features.
story is deceptively simple, but winningly creative: Kris
Kringle (Gwenn), a dapper gent out walking in New York City,
comes across a drunken Santa about to star in the annual Macy's
Thanksgiving Day Parade. He complains to parade organizer
Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara), who begs Kringle to substitute
in the parade rather than disappoint the children.
does such a great job that Walker persuades him to be the
store Santa for the Christmas season. There's just one problem:
Kringle not only looks like Santa - he believes he IS Santa.
That leads to complications with Walker's daughter (Natalie
Wood), who is being raised to disbelieve myths and fairy tales
like Father Christmas.
is soon in bigger trouble when the store psychologist has
him committed for his beliefs. John Payne is the lawyer in
love with Doris who goes to court to prove the impossible
- that Kringle is the real deal.
fine cast, intelligent script and great remastered picture
and sound (in either version) make this a winner. A fascinating
documentary on the production, an audio commentary by Maureen
O'Hara and a featurette on the Macy's parade are among the