Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Miracle on 34th Street|
Actors: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Gene Lockhart, Natalie Wood
Director: George Seaton
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy
The original 1947 version of this Valentine Davies story follows the misadventures of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) as he gets a job playing Santa Claus at Macy s department store in New York City. Natalie Wood is the little... more »
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Not one, but three versions of this story on this Special Ed
Darren Harrison | Washington D.C. | 11/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's not until you are well and truly wading through the wealth of special features on the 2-disc special edition DVD of the 1947 Christmas favorite "The Miracle on 34th Street" that one realizes that the release features not just two versions of the movie, but three.
For not only does the release feature the original black & white version shown in theaters and the circa 1980s colorized version of the same feature film, but also hidden away on the second disc is the curiously titled "20th Century Fox Hour of the Stars: The Miracle on 34th Street," which turns out to be a 46 minute 1950s remake for television that is surprisingly in incredibly good quality.
The inclusion of this feature is indicative of Fox's loving tribute to this family movie gem that is this 2-disc release. Prior to its release the studio had no idea how to market what it considered to be an "unimportant program picture" and stuck it in the middle of its summer schedule with a trailer (shown here as a 5-minute promotional short) that did not feature one single clip from the movie and went at lengths to conceal it's Yuletide theme.
The story is so well known that it hardly bears relating in this review. Suffice to say that it charts the efforts of a man (played in an Academy Award winning performance by British actor Edmund Gwenn) to be legally recognized as Santa Claus, which in fact he is and to persuade a doubting young girl (played by Natalie Wood in a star-turning performance) and a practical realist (played by Maureen O'Hara) that he is indeed Father Christmas. Picked to replace a liquor induced Santa as the Macy's Parade Santa he is a smashing success and indeed Gwenn's performance is so incredible that Natalie Wood really did believe that she was acting opposite Santa Claus.
Perhaps the best special feature in this release (in what is a tough choice given its incredible company) is the feature length audio commentary by Maureen O'Hara. Recorded at her home in Ireland this past August the DVD warns us that this is merely excerpts of that interview with frequent silent sections. But I must say that this is happily not entirely accurate. O'Hara is clearly watching the movie (discussing elements on the screen as they occur), but also is more talkative than other commentaries that I have listened to that do not have a similar warning.
In the commentary O'Hara recounts being forced to remain in the United States following the outbreak of hostilities in World War II and subsequently furious when (after being allowed to return to her native Ireland) on being ordered back to the U.S. to make this film. She tells us that other considered titles were "The Big Heart" and "It's Only Human" and how once she read the script she was determined to be involved in what she saw as a warm and affectionate movie. O'Hara also talks about the parade itself and reveals that it was the actual parade with people in the crowd not being aware that Fox was shooting a movie that day.
Also included in this release is the 22-minute "AMC Backstory" that takes us behind the scenes of the production. Including are on-camera interviews with film historian Rudy Behlmer, actress Maureen O'Hara, actor Robert Hyatt (who played Thomas Mara Jr.), actor Alvin Greenman (who played Alfred), Natalie Wood biographer Suzanne Finstad and Natalie's sister Lana Wood. The documentary traces the genesis to the movie back to a fateful trip to a Los Angeles department store by screenwriter Valentine Davies. Fighting through holiday shoppers on 1944's Christmas Eve in an effort to buy a gift for his wife, Davies wondered what Santa Claus would make of the commercialism of Christmas. After working on the screenplay for over a year the project was optioned by Fox, who evidently had no idea what they had.
In what was a huge risk the filmmakers agreed when Macy's and rival store Gimble Bros. said they would withold permission for their names to be used in the film until they had seen the finished film. Thankfully they loved it for if either store had objected Fox would have had to drastically re-cut and re-shoot major portions of the movie.
So it was that at the height of the 1946 shopping season over 100 cast and crew descended on the Macy's store in New York City to shoot interiors of the movie and when it wrapped used the likes of Rex Harrison and Anne Baxter (who were on the Fox lot shooting other pictures) to rave about the production. Fox need not have worried though because it was a critical and commercial success staying in theaters for over six months and taking home three of its nominated four Oscars. In fact its popularity is such that it has not only been remade in the included 1950s TV production, but again in a 1970s TV movie and then in a 1994 big budget production (and clips from all three are featured in the AMC Backstory).
An archival MovieTone News reel (running 1:42) covers those awards presentations and includes the famous quote from a clean shaven Gwenn when receiving his statue, "Phew. Now I know there is a Santa Claus."
But that's not all this bumper release contains. Also included is a 15:30 featurette on the history of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and in particular its pivotal role in the movie. This new documentary features on-camera interviews with Robert M. Grippo (author of a book on the parade) and John W. Straus who worked on the parade for 22 years and coordinated with the studio that the filming of the parade (with their 14 camera's positioned along the route) went off without a hitch.
The special features are rounded out with nine posters for the movie.
Audio includes English 5.1 Dolby Surround, English mono, French mono and Spanish mono. There are English and Spanish subtitles."
Fantastic family Christmas movie!!
Seen Them All | SoCal Desert | 09/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie itself is one of the all time classic family Christmas movies and should not be missed.
I am, however, very disappointed that Amazon has not seen fit to tell the buyer whether or not this film is restored or remastered. They continue to list these movies with minimal information, even after repeated complaints to their "help" center. Come on Amazon....provide the proper information so we can decide if this really is a "new" version or simply one that has been "repackaged".........we DESERVE more info if you expect us to spend our money.....!!!"
Yes, Susie, there is a Santa Claus.
Robert S. Clay Jr. | St. Louis, MO., USA | 11/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Delightful Christmas fantasy of a charming old man who believes he is Santa Claus, and the wonderful change he brings to the people around him. This perennial holiday classic is on many short-lists of the all time great Christmas movies. The film just oozes with warm-hearted humor. Very young Natalie Wood sparkles as Susan, who learns to stop being so grown up, and enjoy childhood, with all its wide-eyed wonder. Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, and lives the role. He totally connects with the kiddies who visit "Santa" at Macy's department store. The brief scene with the little Dutch refugee girl is a definite emotional high point in this movie. The combined reaction of relief and wonder in the child's face as she visits Santa and finds he speaks her language is memorable. Gene Lockhart as the harried judge, and William Frawley as his street-wise political advisor provide the needed comic relief to keep the court-room segments from becoming too overwhelmed by lawyers and their tactics. Even Jack Albertson shows up as an ingenious postal clerk who helps Kringle solve his legal problem. The on-location scenes filmed on the streets of New York assist the viewer in suspending disbelief. An enthusiastic cast, crisp direction by George Seaton, a sentimental holiday message, and great humor make this movie a solid holiday treat for the entire family. Multiple viewing only enriches the rewards. Beware remakes! ;-)"
The best movie to watch every Thanksgiving weekend
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 11/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since "Miracle on 34th Street" begins with the Macy's parade on Thanksgiving Day, it is the obvious movie to watch on Turkey Day to begin the Christmas season (when you watch "White Christmas," "A Christmas Carol," and "It's a Wonderful Life" is up to you). I know am not alone in my belief that Edmund Gwenn IS Kris Kringle, which means he IS Santa Claus. Of course they gave Gwenn the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1948, but the film also won Oscars for Best Writing, Original Story (Valentine Davies) and Best Writing, Screenplay (George Seaton). Maureen O'Hara plays Doris Walker, a single mom who insists on bringing her daughter Susan, played by adorable Natalie Wood in one of the great childhood performances of all time, in a no-nonsense manner, which means no fantasy, no fairy tales and certainly no Santa Claus. Boy, is she ever wrong.This version of this classic holiday film offers up the long trailer in which the publicity department tries to figure out how to market the film to the masses. A nice added bonus. However, the point of owning "Miracle on 34th Street" is to be able to watch it when it fits our holiday schedule and cry over our favorites scenes. The best times to cry during this movie are as follows: (1) When Susan overhears Kris talking Dutch to the little refugee girl; (2) When Mr. Macy admits under oath on the witness stand that he believes Kris to be Santa Claus; (3) When Susan writes "I believe in you too" on Susan's letter to Kris; (4) When Susan yells, "Stop, Uncle Fred! Stop!" and (5) when Fred sees the cane in the corner. Please feel free to add others to this list as you see fit. Now, excuse me, as I have to go dry my eyes and remember that some films have become holiday classics for good reasons and that remaking something in color does not mean just because it is new it is improved. Happy Turkey Day, everyone!"