25 Days of Christmas - The Nice List: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

My biggest Christmas blindspot (since marking It's a Wonderful Life off the list last year), is without a doubt Miracle on 34th Street. I've been so much in the dark about it, that the only inkling I had of the plot was "Santa gets put on trial." Thankfully there's more to the story than just that, because Christmas and courtroom dramas don't mix.

I was immediately drawn to the story of single mom Doris (Maureen O'Hara) and her determination to stifle her young daughter, Susan's (Natalie Wood), belief in any fairytale, including and especially Santa Claus. But when Doris hires kindly, old Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) to be the new Santa at Macy's, she fights even harder against the myth as her new employee brings a fresh sense of holiday spirit to everyone, since he really thinks he's Santa.

This aspect of the film caught my attention immediately. As I've stated, I'm not dead set against our children believing in Santa, but I'm not pushing the idea. I want them to make up their own minds, and if they ask questions, I'll be as honest as I can without having the one kid that ruins it for all her classmates. Doris on the other hand, is a bitter divorcée that doesn't want her daughter believing in anything remotely happy because she's convinced life has other plans, like it did for her. At least I'm not that bad.

Unfortunately, I wasn't thrilled when the film made it to the courtroom, as a hearing ensues to determine if Kris is crazy or actually Santa Claus. It is eventually cleverly resolved, but taking up a third of the film to run through various legal issues was tedious, to the point I fell asleep and finished the movie the next day. It just became dull until the sacks of letters arrived.

So in the end, Miracle on 34th Street is a pleasant enough Christmas film overall, and I'm glad I eventually watched it, but I don't feel like I've been missing out all these years by skipping this classic.

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