"Miracle on 34th Street" (1947): Blu-Ray, DVD Movie Review

11/27/2010 Posted by Admin

"Miracle on 34th Street" (1947)

Blu-Ray, DVD Movie Review

Directed by George Seaton, Written by George Seaton and Valentine Davies, Unrated, 95-minutes.

By our guest blogger, Matt Schimkowitz

Is there a more earnest film about the spirit of Christmas than "Miracle on 34th Street"? In its pursuits to prove the existence of Santa Claus, it reduces even the shrewdest business men to mush. The war against commercialism rages on in "Miracle on 34th Street," and through its simplicity, the film comes off as heartwarming and effective as ever in its new incarnation on Blu-ray disc.

After firing her mall Santa, Macy’s executive Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) hires Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn), a man convinced he is Santa Claus. His success at the store turns many heads, but Kris is still unable to convince his analyst and Walker’s overly rational daughter, Susan (Natalie Wood), of his identity. In spite of his desire to do good, Kringle is taken to court to prove the existence of Santa Claus once and for all.

"Miracle on 34th Street" succeeds because of its loyalty to the Christmas spirit. Director George Seaton takes ideas of goodwill towards men and peace on Earth and sets them against the backdrop of a cynic-filled Macy’s environment. Kringle finds ways to convince everybody of the need for Christmas cheer -- even teaching executives that generosity makes for a great marketing tool.

Gwenn’s performance is the embodiment of the film’s spirit. He’s both smart and innocent, playing off his charges with disappointment and confidence. Like Frank Capra’s "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," "Miracle on 34th Street" makes the money-making world seem silly for indicting charity, and Seaton takes this approach to make a sound argument for the spirit of Christmas.

The film finds ways to convince even the most steadfast cynics. Wood and O’Hara play the role of the fairytale-free modern family with charm and control, rather than simple Scrooges. Their growth delivers the connection needed to oppose the film’s satire, allowing "Miracle" to attack the heartstrings from a personal and an intellectual perspective.  All of this makes for a pretty solid case that only the coldest Grinch would deny.

"Miracle on 34th Street" is a smart case against the holiday’s commercial leanings and uses sentimentality to prove the need for sentiment. Christmas is a holiday that thrives on heartwarming notions and, as such, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a film more intrigued by these ideas than this one. With the right amount of intellect and heart, "Miracle on 34th Street" is the movie that keeps on giving.

Grade: B+

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