Starring: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne
Director: George Seaton
Running Time: 96 mins
Miracle On 34th Street is an American film about a nice old man who appears in New York City claiming to be the real Santa Claus. After being accused of being insane, a lawyer sets out to prove to the world that he really is the jolly old man himself.
This is a perfect example of how a gentle, pleasant and simple idea can create both an enjoyable and happy film, but also avoid dropping into the area of Christmas cheesiness, which is all too common in festive films nowadays, but looking back into the past, it’s something like this that can really cheer you up.
The main thing that I absolutely loved about this film is that it has a properly Christmassy feel to it. Whatever people say nowadays about the commercialisation of Christmas, that it’s lost its meaning is irrelevant to the fact that it still gives everyone that distinctly cosy feeling, like watching chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and that’s exactly what this film feels like.
That’s mostly because of the brilliant performance by Edmund Gwenn as the nice old man, also known as Kris Kringle, who claims to be Father Christmas. Amazingly, his performance never feels forcefully happy or cheesy, the niceness and sweetness of his character really shines through in the most pleasant way possible, making him probably the most likeable film character I’ve ever seen, and whilst his character gets a little ruined by real-world events later on in the story, every time I saw him, I still had a grin on my face from ear to ear.
But beyond just Father Christmas, this film also triumphs in another aspect where the majority of festive films fall flat on their face. It manages to talk about the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ and bringing joy to all without ever being horribly schmaltzy, and instead manages to convincingly, pleasantly and enjoyably talk about that, keeping me not only even more interested in the film, but also even happier to watch it, and that’s why this gets a 7.6.