Since none of the channels I get are bothering to show the glorious original 1947 version this year, I decided to spend my nine dollars on the Miracle of 34th Street DVD. There is a treasure trove of added features including a very rare 1955 broadcast on the “20th Century Fox Hour of Stars” of yet another adaptation. I found it very well done for the limited 45 minute run time. There were of course deletions from the original but there was one scene that was in this adaptation that I saw for the first time on the stage: Mr. Sawyer giving his speech on the evils of myth at Susan’s Progressive School.
There were also a few behind the scene stories that were very informative:
- The filming of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was the real McCoy filmed on Thanksgiving Day, 1946. This was the second parade given following its hiatus during WWII.
- Edmund Gwenn (who played Kris Kringle and won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in the original) was Santa at the end of the parade.
- Many of the interior scenes for Macy’s Department Store were actually filmed at the flagship store during the holiday season. WOW! Imagine the chaos that must have caused! An identical duplicate was recreated on a Hollywood sound stage in the event that some scenes needed to be redone.
- Both R.H. Macy and the Gimbel Brothers loved the film much to the delight of the filmmakers.
- The film was released in June, 1947. Fox did not want audiences thinking they were going to a film about the Christmas season in the summer so in its publicity campaign, scenes were carefully selected that would not draw attention to the fact. The risk paid off and “Miracle” became a hit that ran in theatres for an unheard of 6 month stand.
A holiday treasure that teaches everyone that “faith is believing in something when common sense tells us not to.” Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?