Greatest Film Scenes
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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

 





Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions
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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

In director George Seaton's perennial Christmas classic, a dramatic comedy about the commercialization of Santa Claus and Christmas itself:

  • the marvelous character of the charming NYC Macy's Christmas Santa 'Kris Kringle' (Edmund Gwenn), an older bearded gentleman given the job of the toy department's Santa
  • the scene of toy department boss Mr. Julian Shellhammer (Philip Tonge) urging Kris Kringle to memorize and push a list of overstocked toys on undecided children: ("Before you go up on the floor, I just want to give you a few tips on how to be a good Santa Claus...Here's a list of toys that we have to push. You know, things that we're overstocked on. Now, you'll find that a great many children will be undecided as to what they want for Christmas. When that happens, you immediately suggest one of these items. You understand?") - and Kringle's disgust at X-mas commercialization: ("Imagine - making a child take something it doesn't want just because he bought too many of the wrong toys. That's what I've been fighting against for years, the way they commercialize Christmas")
  • the sequence of Macy's event director Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara), a single divorcee, urging Kris Kringle to tell her delightfully skeptical young 2nd grade daughter Susan Walker (Natalie Wood) that Santa didn't exist: ("Would you please tell her that you're not really Santa Claus, that there actually is no such person?"), and Kringle's insistence that he really was Saint Nick: ("Well, I'm sorry to disagree with you, Mrs. Walker, but not only is there such a person, but here I am to prove it"); Doris' skeptical 6 year-old daughter Susan didn't believe that the actual, warm-hearted, white-haired Kris Kringle was real, and pulled his beard to test him
Kringle with Skeptical Susan Walker
  • Doris' shocking discovery that Santa was recommending that shoppers go elsewhere if they couldn't find toys that they wanted at Macy's; also her finding that Kris Kringle's employment card revealed that his address was the Brooks' Memorial Home for the Aged in Great Neck, Long Island, NY
  • Kringle's concerned conversation with Doris about the loss of the real meaning of Christmas: ("For the past 50 years or so, I've been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we're all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster, and look shinier, and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle...Christmas isn't just a day. It's a frame of mind. And that's what's been changing. That's why I'm glad I'm here. Maybe I can do something about it").
  • Kringle's kind-hearted speaking to a non-English-speaking immigrant Dutch girl/orphan (Ida McGuire) in her own native language (and performing a duet of a traditional Dutch carole together) while Susan watched from the side and was impressed
  • in the stirring finale and happy ending set in the NY Supreme Court on Christmas Eve, a battle between lawyers tried to determine Kris' sanity or lunacy; Susan wrote a letter to Kris Kringle to cheer him up while in court for his insanity hearing (with her mother's added postscript: "I believe in you, too")
  • the heartwarming courtroom scene when handsome bachelor lawyer Fred Gailey (John Payne) Doris' love interest and next-door neighbor, proposed to defend Kris in an 'insanity hearing'; he asked questions of the District Attorney's young son Tommy (Bobby Hyatt) on the witness stand: "Do you believe in Santa Claus?" and "Why are you so sure there's a Santa Claus?" - and eventually won the case to prove that Santa Claus actually existed
  • the climactic display of US mail evidence in the courtroom - 21 bags and stacks of thousands of letters addressed to Santa Claus, brought into the court and proving that Kris was Santa Claus, and causing the case to be dismissed: ("Your Honor: Every one of these letters is addressed to Santa Claus. The Post Office has delivered them. Therefore, the Post Office Department, a branch of the federal government, recognizes this man, Kris Kringle, to be the one-and-only Santa Claus!")
Arriving at Susan's Dream House
Kringle's Cane
Fred's Proposal to Doris
  • the concluding scene of Susan in a car, repeatedly trying to persuade herself to have faith: "I believe" - and then her overwhelming joy at driving up to the house of her dreams - a house (with a "For Sale" sign) that Santa promised to her (with Kris Kringle's red cane found inside); she told Fred and Doris after wildly running through the house: ("But this is my house, Mommy, the one I asked Mr. Kringle for. It is! It is! I know it is! My room upstairs is just like I knew it would be! Oh, you were right, Mommy. Mommy told me if things don't turn out just the way you want them to the first time, you've still got to believe. And I kept believing, and you were right, Mommy! Mr. Kringle is Santa Claus!")
  • in the ending, Fred kissed Doris and proposed to her in their future home; Susan helped to persuade them to think about purchasing the house - but Fred also expressed his doubts about winning the case: ("I must be a pretty good lawyer. I take a little old man and legally prove to the world that he's Santa Claus....Maybe I didn't do such a wonderful thing after all")


Kris Kringle with Toy Department Boss Mr. Shellhammer

Divorcee Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) With Friend Fred Gailey (John Payne)

Kris Kringle's Address

Kringle with Dutch Girl


Believers in Kris

'Insanity' Court Hearing

Bundles of Letters Addressed to Santa

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