Christmas Specials Wiki
Christmas Specials Wiki

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) poster.jpg
Oh, Christmas isn't just a day. It's a frame of mind.

— Kris Kringle, fairly summing up his character's outlook

Miracle on 34th Street (originally titled Christmas Miracle on 34th Street; initially released as The Big Heart in the United Kingdom) is a 1947 film starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn. Notably the first Christmas movie released by 20th Century Fox, it is a story set in New York City following the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in which people find themselves wondering whether or not a department store Santa might be the real thing. Because of its Christmas theme, the film has become a perennial Christmas favorite, even though it was released in June of that year (the reason being that studio head Darryl F. Zanuck believed that more people go to the movies in warmer weather[1]). Davies also penned a short novel version of the tale, which was published by Harcourt Brace simultaneously with the film's release.

The film has since seen at least five different remakes - as a one-hour TV special in 1955, another one-hour TV special in 1959, a made-for-TV movie in 1973, and most notably, a theatrical film in 1994. It was also adapted as a Broadway musical, titled Here's Love, in 1963.


Kris Kringle is indignant to find that the person assigned to play Santa in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is intoxicated. When he complains to the event's director, Doris Walker, she persuades him to take his place. He does such a fine job that he is hired to be the Santa for Macy's flagship New York City store on 34th Street.

Ignoring instructions to steer parents to goods that Macy's wants to sell, Kris tells one female shopper to go to another store for a fire engine for her son that they don't have. She is so impressed that she tells Julian Shellhammer, head of the toy department, that she will become a loyal customer. Kris later informs another mother that arch-rival Gimbel's has better skates for her daughter.

Fred Gailey, an attorney (United States terminology for a lawyer) and neighbor of Doris, is babysitting the young divorcee's nine-year-old daughter Susan and takes her to see Kris. When Doris finds out, she lectures him about filling Susan's mind with fantasy. Meanwhile, she sees Kris talking and singing with a Dutch World War II orphan girl in her native language and begins to wonder if perhaps he is real. (In the 1994 remake, he communicates with a deaf girl via sign language.) When Doris asks him to tell Susan that he really isn't Santa Claus, he surprises her by insisting that he is.

Doris decides to fire him before he can harm anyone. However, Kris has generated so much good publicity and customer goodwill for Macy's that a delighted R. H. Macy promises Doris and Shellhammer generous bonuses. To overcome Doris' misgivings about keeping Kris, Shellhammer proposes sending him to Granville Sawyer to get a "psychological evaluation". He easily passes the test, but antagonizes Sawyer by questioning his own psychological health.

The store expands on the marketing concept. Anxious to avoid looking greedy by comparison, Gimbel's implements the same referral policy throughout its entire chain, forcing Macy's and other stores to respond in kind. Eventually, Kris accomplishes the impossible: Mr. Macy shakes hands with Mr. Gimbel.

Kris and Susan.

Dr. Pierce, the doctor at Kris's nursing home, assures Doris and Shellhammer that his apparent delusion is harmless. Meanwhile, Fred offers to let him stay with him so he can be closer to his workplace. He makes a deal with him - he will work on Susan's cynicism while he does the same with disillusioned Doris, still bitter over her failed marriage.

Kris then learns that Sawyer has convinced a young, impressionable employee, Alfred, that he is mentally ill simply because he is generous and kind-hearted (Alfred plays Santa Claus at his neighborhood YMCA). He confronts him and, in a fit of anger, raps him on the head with his cane. Doris and Shellhammer arrive at that point and only see the aftermath; Sawyer exaggerates his injury in order to have Kris confined to Bellevue Mental Hospital.

Tricked into cooperating and believing Doris to be part of the deception, a discouraged Kris deliberately fails his mental examination and is recommended for permanent commitment. However, Fred persuades him not to give up. To secure his release, Fred gets a formal hearing before Judge Henry Harper of the New York Supreme Court. Warned by Mr. Macy to get the matter dropped, Sawyer pleads with Fred not to seek publicity. To his dismay, he thanks him for the idea. As a result, Judge Harper is put in an awkward spot - even his own grandchildren are against him for "persecuting" Santa Claus.

Fred quits his job at a prestigious New York law firm to defend Kris and has a falling out with Doris, who has no faith in his abilities and calls his resignation an "idealistic binge" over some "lovely intangibles." He replies that one day she might discover that those intangibles are the only worthwhile things in life.

At the hearing, District Attorney Thomas Mara gets Kris to assert that he is in fact Santa Claus and rests his case, believing he has prima facie proven his point. Fred stuns the court by arguing that he is not insane because he actually is him - and he will prove it. Mara requests the judge rule that he does not exist. Judge Harper is warned privately in chambers by his political adviser, Charlie Halloran, that doing so would be politically disastrous for his upcoming reelection bid. He buys time by deciding to hear evidence before ruling.

Fred calls Mr. Macy as a witness. Mara pointedly asks if he really believes Kris to be Santa Claus. He starts to give an equivocal answer, but when Mara asks him point-blank, he remembers the expressions on the faces of small children upon seeing Kris and firmly states, "I do!" On leaving the stand, he fires Sawyer. Fred then calls Mara's own young son to the stand. Thomas Mara, Jr. testifies that his father had told him that Santa was real and that "My daddy would never tell a lie! Would you, Daddy?" Outmaneuvered, he concedes the point.

Mara then demands that Fred prove that Kris is "the one and only" Santa Claus, on the basis of some competent authority. While he searches frantically, Susan, by now a firm believer in Kris, writes him a letter to cheer him up, which Doris also signs. A mail sorter sees that it is addressed to the courthouse and realizes that the post office could clear out the many letters to Santa taking up space in its dead letter office by delivering them to him.

Kris is uplifted by Susan's letter. Just then, Fred learns that over 50,000 pieces of mail have been delivered to him. Seeing an opportunity, Fred presents Judge Harper with three letters addressed only to "Santa Claus" and notes that they have been delivered to Kris by the United States Post Office, a branch of the federal government. When he demands that Fred produce the "further exhibits" he mentioned, he is soon hidden behind the bags of letters - 21 in all. He rules in favor of Kris. Afterwards, Doris invites Kris to dinner, but he reminds her that "it's Christmas Eve!"

On Christmas morning, Susan is disillusioned because Kris was unable to get her what she told him she wanted most. As they are about to leave, he gives Fred and Doris a route home, supposedly to avoid traffic. Along the way, Susan is overjoyed to see the house of her dreams (exactly matching the drawing she had given him earlier) with a "For Sale" sign in the front yard. Fred learns that Doris had encouraged her to have faith, and suggests they get married and purchase the house. He then boasts that he must be a great lawyer, since he managed to do the seemingly impossible, proving that an eccentric old man was the real Santa Claus. However, when he notices a cane leaning against the fireplace that looks exactly like the one Kris used, he wonders who had the miracle, saying "Maybe I didn't do such a wonderful thing after all."


The film was released on VHS in 1980 by Magnetic Video.

The film was rereleased on VHS and Laserdisc in 1987 by CBS/FOX Video's Playhouse Video division.

In 1985, the film became one of the first full-length black-and-white movies to be colorized. The 4½-month process was carried out by American Film Technologies. The colorized version was released on VHS and Laserdisc in 1993, and was followed four years later by a "50th Anniversary Edition" on both formats.

The film's first DVD release came in October 1999, with the only bonus features being the original theatrical trailer and a television commercial. In November 2006, it was released again as a two-disc "Special Edition" DVD, which featured both the original black-and-white film and a newly computer-colorized version by Legend Films. It also included a documentary interviewing many of the actors and production crew, a full-length audio commentary by Maureen O'Hara, and the 1955 TV remake.

In October 2009, 20th Century Fox released the black-and-white version on Blu-ray. It included all the extras from the 2006 DVD except for the 1955 remake. A 70th Anniversary Edition DVD and Blu-ray were released on October 10, 2017.


The film won the 1947 Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Edmund Gwenn, who said "Now I know there's a Santa Claus" in his acceptance speech), Best Story (Valentine Davies), and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Picture, which it lost to Gentleman's Agreement.

In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant", and was officially preserved by the Academy Film Archive four years later.[2] In 2006, it was ranked #9 on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.

References in other Christmas media

  • In Home Alone (another Christmas film released by Fox), when Kevin McCallister turns on the kitchen television set, it plays the opening scene from this film.
  • A clip of the ending can be seen on the den television in The Preacher's Wife.
  • A clip from the film appears on the TV at Moe's Tavern in The Simpsons episode "I Won't Be Home for Christmas", with Moe commenting that "few people know that [Judge Harper's] verdict was overturned in the sequel."


2011 miracle.jpg
Actor/actress Character
Maureen O'Hara Doris Walker
John Payne Fred Gailey
Edmund Gwenn Kris Kringle
Gene Lockhart Judge Henry X. Harper
Natalie Wood Susan Walker
Porter Hall Granville Sawyer
William Frawley Charlie Halloran
Jerome Cowan District Attorney Thomas Mara
Philip Tonge Julian Shellhammer
Jack Albertson Al
Harry Antrim Mr. R.H. Macy
Lela Bliss Mrs. Shellhammer
Walden Boyle Judge's clerk
Kevin Burke Child on Santa's lap
Dorothy Christy Secretary
Dick Cogan Department store head
Jeff Corey Reporter
Mike Donovan Court Bailiff
Teddy Driver Terry
Mary Field Dutch girl's ddopted mother
William Forrest Doctor Rogers at Bellevue
Jack Gargan Chauffeur
Robert Gist Department store window dresser
Jane Green Mrs. Harper
Alvin Greenman Alfred
Alvin Hammer George
Theresa Harris Cleo
Percy Helton Drunken Santa Claus
Herbert Heyes Mr. Gimbel
Clark Howat Patron in Macy's lunchroom
Robert Hyatt Thomas Mara Jr.
Richard Irving Reporter
Robert Karnes Second Bellevue Interne
Fran Lee Customer
Marlene Lyden Dutch Girl
Robert Lynn Macy salesman
Mae Marsh Woman in Santa line
Ida McGuire Drum Majorette
Joseph McInerney Bailiff
Jean O'Donnell Miss Adams
Anne O'Neal Secretary to Mr. Sawyer
'Snub' Pollard
Bob Reeves
Ray Spiker
Mail-bearing court officers
Lorin Raker Macy's salesman
Thelma Ritter Peter's mother
Stephen Roberts Security Guard
Jeffrey Sayre Courtroom Reporter
James Seay Dr. Pierce
Irene Shirley R.H. Macy's secretary
Patty Smith Alice
Ann Staunton Mrs. Mara
Brick Sullivan Guard
Anthony Sydes Peter
Guy Thomajan Lou
Basil Walker Bellevue Intern


External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed
content from Wikipedia (view authors).
20th Century
Miracle on 34th Street (1955 remake) (1973 remake) (1994 remake) • Die HardDie Hard 2Home AloneHome Alone 2: Lost in New YorkGeorge Balanchine's The NutcrackerTrapped in ParadiseJingle All the WayHome Alone 4The Family StoneDeck the Halls12 Men of ChristmasHome Alone: The Holiday HeistJingle All the Way 2Home Sweet Home Alone
Television episodes and specials
20th Television
M*A*S*H "Dear Dad" • "Dear Sis" • "Death Takes a Holiday" • "All About Christmas Eve"
Tracey Ullman "Santa Baby" • "Kay's Gift" • "Merry Catnip"
The X Files "Christmas Carol" • "Emily" • "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas"
Malcolm in the Middle "Christmas" • "Christmas Trees" • "Pearl Harbor" • "Hal's Christmas Gift
Bones "The Man in the Fallout Shelter" • "The Santa in the Slush" • "The Goop on the Girl"
How I Met Your Mother "How Lily Stole Christmas" • "Little Minnesota" • "False Positive" • "Symphony of Illumination" • "The Over-Correction" • "The Final Page, Part 1" • "The Final Page, Part 2"
Glee "A Very Glee Christmas" • "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" • "Glee, Actually" • "Previously Unaired Christmas"
New Girl "The 23rd" • "Santa" • "LAXmas" • "Christmas Eve Eve"
The Mindy Project "Josh and Mindy's Christmas Party" • "Christmas Party Sex Trap" • "Christmas" • "When Mindy Met Danny"
Last Man Standing "Last Christmas Standing" • "Putting a Hit on Christmas" • "Elfie" • "Wedding Planning" • "Gift of the Wise Man"
Other shows "Christmas Story" • "The Worst Noel" • "Amends" • "Blue Christmas" • "A Christmas Story" • "Cookies for Santa" • "In God We Trust" • "Road to Tradition" • "Afternoon Delight" • "Christmas" • "The Glitch That Stole Christmas" • "Secret Santa"
20th Television Animation
The Simpsons "Simpson Christmas" • "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" • "Marge Be Not Proud" • "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace" • "Grift of the Magi" • "Skinner's Sense of Snow" • "She of Little Faith" • "'Tis the Fifteenth Season" • "Simpson Christmas Stories" • "Kill Gil, Volumes I & II" • "The Fight Before Christmas" • "Holidays of Future Passed" • "White Christmas Blues" • "I Won't Be Home for Christmas • "The Nightmare After Krustmas" • "'Tis the 30th Season" • "Bobby, It's Cold Outside" • "The Way of The Dog" • "A Springfield Summer Christmas for Christmas" • "Manger Things"
King of the Hill "The Unbearable Blindness of Laying" • "Pretty, Pretty Dresses" • "Hillennium" • "'Twas the Nut Before Christmas" • "The Father, the Son, and J.C." • "Livin' on Reds, Vitamin C and Propane" • "Ms. Wakefield"
Family Guy, American Dad!, and The Cleveland Show "A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas" • "The Best Christmas Story Never" • "The Most Adequate Christmas Ever" • "Rapture's Delight" • "A Cleveland Brown Christmas" • "Road to the North Pole" • "For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls" • "Murray Christmas" • "Season's Beatings" • "Die Semi-Hard" • "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" • "'Tis the Cleveland To Be Sorry" • "Minstrel Krampus" • "Christmas Guy" • "Dreaming of a White Porsche Christmas" • "The 2000-Year-Old Virgin" • "How the Griffin Stole Christmas" • "Ninety North, Zero West" • "Don't Be a Dickens At Christmas" • "Santa, Schmanta" • "Christmas is Coming" • "Yule. Tide. Repeat." • "The First No L" • "Christmas Crime"
Futurama "Xmas Story" • "A Tale of Two Santas" • "The Futurama Holiday Spectacular"
Bob's Burgers "God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins" • "Christmas in the Car" • "Father of the Bob" • "Nice-Capades" • "The Last Gingerbread House on the Left" • "The Bleakening" • "Better Off Sled" • "Have Yourself a Maily Linda Christmas" • "Yachty or Nice"
Other cartoons "Hook's Christmas" • "A Christmas Surprise for Mrs. Stillman" • Olive, the Other ReindeerIce Age: A Mammoth Christmas • "The War on Grafelnik" • "Miracle on Culpepper Slims Boulevard" • "Solar Opposites Christmas Special"