Miracle on 34th Street

I’m a sucker for movies like “Miracle on 34th Street.” I like my Christmas movies the same as my Christmas trees: sappy. I want to be able to pretend for two hours that “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I want to be there when young attorney Fred Gailey (John Payne) pulls out all of the stops to prove that Edmund Gwenn is indeed Kris Kringle.

I always cry when Mary Steenburgen realizes that a letter to Santa is the key to her happiness in “One Magic Christmas.”

Yes, I’m a sucker for films like “Miracle on 34th Street,” and was thrilled to get a copy on DVD. The image on the DVD is superior. It’s like watching a new print of the film. Gone are the scratches and reel marks that have marred syndicated prints of the film.

“Miracle on 34th Street” is such a good film that you can enjoy it any time of the year. It spawned two remakes, a television film starring Sebastian Cabot, and a theatrical film starring Sir Richard Attenborough. I love all three versions, but none are as magical as the original.

There is something in Edmund Gwenn’s performance as Kris Kringle that makes you believe he is indeed Santa Claus. His performance is so seamless you never once question his identity. His identity is questioned when Kris is hired by Macy to serve as their Santa.

While the children believe Kris to be authentic, Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara), the woman who hired him, has her doubts. She believes him to be a kindly old gentleman who believes he is Santa Claus. How Kris Kringle changes her mind and that of her no-nonsense daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) is just part of the magic of this holiday favorite.

Director and writer George Seaton treats us to a wonderful courtroom scene where attorney Gailey not only finds himself defending Kringle’s sanity, but the spirit of Christmas as well. “Miracle on 34th Street” is filled with memorable performances and memorable moments.

Wood is excellent as the young girl who finds her sense of reality challenged when she’s asked to believe in Kris. O’Hara is marvelous as Doris, a woman still scarred by her divorce whose beliefs are also challenged. John Payne is endearing as the white knight who rides into their lives. You may not believe in Santa Claus now, but you will after you watch “Miracle on 34th Street.”


VISION: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) 1.33:1 Full Screen

check.gif (406 bytes) Outstanding presentation of a classic. The black and white images are incredibly sharp and vivid. I was expecting lots of scratches and fading, but the original negative looks marvelous. The images have a creamy texture that betrays their age. The flesh tones look smooth and attractive, while blacks and whites are at their best behavior. Depth of field is amazing, while attention to detail is specific. During the overhead shots of the parade you can actually count heads.

HEARING: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) Dolby Digital Mono, English & French Language

check.gif (406 bytes) The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is clean and free of any audible hiss or distortion. Strong dialogue mix makes it easy to hear each and every word of wisdom.

ORAL: Good

check.gif (406 bytes) Closed captions in English for the hard of hearing, subtitles in Spanish.


check.gif (406 bytes) Handsome main and scene access menus.

check.gif (406 bytes) Original theatrical trailer, plus a television spot for the film’s debut. The theatrical trailer is a keeper.

PROGNOSIS: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) There’s no snow job here. I believe in Santa Claus.


check.gif (406 bytes) $29.98/Rated G/96 Minutes/B&W/21 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#4112755



HMO: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Comments are closed.