Tonight while watching the first snow of the season continue to fall, I checked the tv listings and discovered two movies that piqued my interest: Santa Claus The Movie and the 1973 made-for-television version of Miracle on 34th Street. Since I have seen Santa Claus (the rather disappointing movie made by Alexander Salkind, producer of the Christopher Reeve Superman films), I decided to check out one of at least 2 remakes of the 1947 classic. It is a virtual who’s who of 1970s television stars. Sabastian Cabot (Mr. French from Family Affair), Tom Bosley (Mr. C from Happy Days), David Hartman (whom I remember as the co-host of Good Morning America back in the day… can’t say much for his acting ability), Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III and Mr. Magoo, himself), Roddy McDowell, and David Doyle (Bosley from the Charlie’s Angels tv series) were just a few of the actors that made the whole thing seem like a bad Love Boat/Fantasy Island episode. I think the best thing about watching remakes is the fun in which one can have discussing the merits of the different versions. I must correct myself; there are actually a total of 4 remakes. Three television versions (1955, 1959, and 1973) as well as the 1994 theatrical version.
One tidbit I learned from imdb.com, Mr. Cabot had to shave the trademark beard from his role on Family Affair and wear an “official” Kris Kringle beard. Another tidbit… upon the release of the 1994 version, 20th Century Fox offered a complete refund for anyone who did not enjoy the film. Over 1500 tickets were refunded. Not sure how many were legitimate refunds or if they just had a bunch of Scrooges. One thing is clear… one should not mess with an original.
Now if I could just locate a copy of that FINE classically bad classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I’ve seen bits of this what I am sure is a totally misunderstood gem but have never seen it in its entirety.