Thursday 18 December 2014

12 Days of Christmas - Day 5 Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

I’d heard of Miracle on 34th Street before Jenna told me it was on the list. Great, I thought! That’s the one with Matilda in, I’m looking forward to that. Nope, Jenna says, we’re watching the original. The one from the 40s. Ugh! I have never, up until now of course, seen a black and white film. I’ve just never had the interest, really. I decided I could make an exception for Christmas.

Miracle on 34th Street circles around the Thanksgiving Parade at Macy’s in New York. Their Santa is discovered to be blind drunk, and is replaced by the very man who found him, who calls himself Kris Kringle. Kris does wonders (miracles, even!) for Macy’s but soon lands himself in trouble when concerns spread about his mental health. Santa isn’t real they all said, and this Kris fellow seems to be convinced that not only is he real, but he is Kris himself! Entwined with this story is a secondary arc of a little girl who has been brought up to know that fairy tales are nothing more than tales, and so she doesn’t believe in Santa.

Once I got over the fact that widescreen didn’t exist back then, and stopped pressing buttons on my TV remote trying to fix the screen, I soon forgot about the lack of colour and enjoyed the film for what it was. I even marvelled at how good looking John Payne was.  I thought the same...swoon!! I reckon my Granny probably fancied him too when she was younger. I’ll have to ask.

When I think about it, Christmas films these days aren’t much different to this one, they all have the same themes and morals, although culturally they differ. Could you imagine letting your child watch a parade from the window of a man’s house you barely know these days? This really shocked me, I hadn't seen this film before so when the housekeeper (?) said she's across the hall in that mans apartment, I nearly had kittens!!  Definitely some culture changes in the world since came out...

I’m really glad I watched this original before any of it’s remakes you know. I can be ‘that gal’ who sits there muttering about how many changes they made, and how the original is far superior! Seriously though, for a film I really didn’t think I would enjoy, I was surprised. I got a little bored throughout the court scene as it was just too long, but I thought the ending was perfect and really brought a smile to my face.  I preferred this ending to the 1994 version, the way Gailey wins the court room battles is much more logical than in the 90's version, which now seems a little disappointing.  I was very tired by the time I got to the end of this movie but I still clapped and grinned at the happy ending.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this, I have always avoided black and white films (I know I shouldn't) but this was great.  I don't know if anyone else notices this though, scenes in black and white films seem to end quite abruptly in comparison to more modern films.  They seem to be half way through a conversation and the scene will close, I find it very odd.

I initially didn't Maureen O'Hara's character, what kind of woman refused to let her child believe in Santa and fairy tales, that's just a crappy childhood there if you ask me!  Obviously, she grew on me as she came to believe in Kris Kringle which was nice to see, although I didn't really understand why Fred Gailey (John Payne) would be so interested in her when she is a boring workaholic with no imagination. 

I might not watch this again, but I think it’s a film that everyone should see at least once around the Christmas season.

I think I'll be watching this every Christmas from now on because I really did love it.


1 comment:

  1. Haven't seen this since I was a little boy and don't remember anything other than the little girl pulling Santa's beard and discovering it to be real. Might be time for a rewatch.

    By the way, there are tons of great black and white films. I encourage you to check out more. On the flip side, there is a colorized version of this movie floating around somewhere. Great work!