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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

aka Miracle on 34th Street

"Capture the spirit of Christmas with this timeless classic!"

Directed By: 
Details: 96 mins · English, Nederlands

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Taglines:

"Capture the spirit of Christmas with this timeless classic!"

"Experience the Miracle."

Plot:

Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) is indignant to find that the person assigned to play Santa in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Percy Helton) is intoxicated. When he complains to event director Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara), she persuades Kris to take his place. He does such a fine job that he is hired as the Santa for Macy's flagship New York City store on 34th Street.

Ignoring instructions to steer parents to buy from Macy's, Kris directs one shopper (Thelma Ritter) to another store. She is so impressed, she tells Julian Shellhammer (Philip Tonge), head of the toy department, that she will become a loyal customer. Kris later informs another mother that archrival Gimbels has better skates.

Fred Gailey (John Payne), Doris's attorney neighbor, takes the young divorcee's second grade daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) to see Kris. Doris has raised her to not believe in fairy tales, but her lack of faith is shaken when she sees Kris conversing in Dutch with an adopted girl who does not know English. Doris asks Kris to tell Susan that he is not really Santa Claus, but Kris insists he is.

Doris decides to fire him, worried that he is delusional and might harm someone. However, Kris has generated so much good publicity and goodwill for Macy's that a delighted R. H. Macy (Harry Antrim) promises Doris and Julian generous bonuses. To alleviate Doris's misgivings, Julian has Granville Sawyer (Porter Hall) give Kris a "psychological evaluation". Kris easily passes, but antagonizes Sawyer by questioning Sawyer's own mental health.

The store expands on the marketing concept. Anxious to avoid looking greedy by comparison, Gimbels implements the same referral policy throughout its entire chain, forcing Macy's and other stores to escalate in kind. Eventually, Kris accomplishes the impossible: he reconciles bitter rivals Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimbel (Herbert Heyes).

Pierce (James Seay), the doctor at Kris's nursing home, assures Doris and Julian that Kris is harmless. Kris makes a deal with Fred – he will work on Susan's cynicism while Fred does the same with Doris, disillusioned by her failed marriage. When Susan reveals her wish for a house, Kris reluctantly promises to do his best.

Kris learns that Sawyer has convinced impressionable young employee Alfred that he is mentally ill simply because he is generous and kind-hearted. When Kris confronts Sawyer and finds him to be intractable, Kris raps Sawyer on the head with the handle of Sawyer's umbrella. Sawyer exaggerates his pain in order to have Kris confined to Bellevue Hospital. Tricked into cooperating, and believing Doris to be part of the deception, a discouraged Kris deliberately fails his mental examination and is recommended for permanent commitment. However, Fred persuades Kris not to give up.

At a formal hearing before New York Supreme Court Judge Henry X. Harper (Gene Lockhart), District Attorney Thomas Mara (Jerome Cowan) gets Kris to assert that he is Santa Claus and rests his case, believing he has prima facie proven his point. Fred argues that Kris is not insane because he actually is Santa Claus. Mara requests the judge rule that Santa Claus does not exist. In private, Harper's political adviser, Charlie Halloran (William Frawley), warns him that doing so would be disastrous for his upcoming reelection bid. The judge buys time by deciding to hear evidence before ruling.

Doris quarrels with Fred when he quits his job at a prestigious law firm to defend Kris. Doris calls his resignation an "idealistic binge" over some "lovely intangibles". He replies that one day she might discover that "intangibles" are the only worthwhile things.

Fred calls Mr. Macy as a witness. When Mara asks if he really believes Kris to be Santa Claus, Macy starts to equivocate, but when pressed, states, "I do!" Afterward, Macy fires Sawyer. Fred then calls Mara's own young son, who testifies that his father told him that Santa was real. Outmaneuvered, Mara concedes the point.

Mara then demands that Fred prove that Kris is "the one and only" Santa Claus on the basis of some competent authority. While Fred searches frantically, Susan, by now a firm believer in Kris, writes him a letter to cheer him up, which Doris also signs. When a mail sorter (Jack Albertson) sees Susan's letter, he comes up with a way to clear out the many letters to Santa taking up space in the dead letter office.

Fred presents Judge Harper with three letters addressed simply to "Santa Claus" and delivered to Kris, asserting the U.S. Post Office has thus acknowledged that he is the Santa Claus. When Harper demands "further exhibits", mailmen bring in 21 full bags. He dismisses the case.

On Christmas morning, Susan is disappointed that Kris could not get her what she wanted. Kris gives Fred and Doris a route home that avoids traffic. Along the way, Susan sees the house of her dreams with a "For Sale" sign in the front yard. Fred learns that Doris had encouraged Susan to have faith, and suggests they get married and purchase the house. He then boasts that he must be a great lawyer since he did the impossible. However, when they spot a cane inside that looks just like Kris's, he is less sure.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 1947-05-02 : United States of America

DVD : 1999-10-05

DVD : 2001-10-16