Sunday, June 4, 2017

Miracle On 34th Street

Premiered June 4, 1947

As the date above indicates, Miracle On 34th Street was released 70 years ago today. That's right, one of the all time classic, most beloved Christmas films was released in June!  We suspect that most people reading this blog are familiar with the story, so rather than summarize it, we figured we'd discuss some interesting aspects and behind-the-scenes stories about the movie.

Why was it released out of season?  It seems Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox Studios, believed more people went to the movies during summer months.  Miracle On 34th Street was promoted with no mention of its Yuletide-themed plot.  The original movie poster seen below emphasizes the romance between Doris (Maureen O'Hara) and Fred (John Payne).  Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwen) and Susan (Natalie Wood) are relegated to the background of the poster.

Miracle On 34th Street begins on Thanksgiving Day.  Kris takes on the role of Santa in the Macy's Parade when the man hired to play Mr. Claus (Percy Helton) is too drunk to go on. Viewers of the film today might be surprised to learn that Edmund Gwenn actually did play Santa in the 1946 edition of the Macy's Parade!  Here's a photo:

This is a rare case of a 1940s film being shot on location.  This means we get to see actual vintage footage of the 1946 Macy's Parade!

Character actress Thelma Ritter made her film debut in this movie.  She appears uncredited as a Macy's shopper.

While her role is brief, Ritter managed to make a nothing-role memorable and it lead to her being cast in more movies.  Ritter went on to a distinguished career, racking up six Oscar nominations, one Emmy nod and a win at the 1956 Tony Awards for New Girl In Town.

We love this film and watch it every holiday season, Edmund Gwenn is still the best movie Santa Claus seven decades after he won an Oscar for the role.

Needless to say, Miracle On 34th Street gets our highest rating.

RigbyMel and J.A. Morris' rating:

4 Candy Canes!

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