Miracle on 34th Street: to make Christmas a joyful one

A classic American movie, Miracle on 34th Street is regularly rebroadcast for the holiday season. Since its release in 1947, the original film has enchanted young and old alike. Go to New York and follow in the footsteps of this fantastic tale. Fantrippers puts stars in your eyes!
Réalité/fiction Miracle sur la 34e rue
Réalité/fiction Miracle sur la 34e rue

Miracle on 34th Street, the magic of Christmas in a movie

To fall back into childhood or to prolong it, nothing better than this masterpiece of American cinema. Winner of three Oscars (Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Story and Best Adapted Screenplay), this feature film was directed by George Seaton.

The filmmaker based his film on the eponymous novel by Valentine Davies. Released in 1947, it was not until November of the following year that the French version was released.

Kris, the real Santa Claus?

The action takes place in New York City. Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) works for the Macy’s chain of stores. She is looking for the most handsome Santa Claus to liven up the holiday season. She comes across the rare pearl in the person of Kris Kingle (Edmund Gwenn), an old man who looks like the gentle bearded man. He even claims to be the real Santa Claus.

1. Macy’s

Macy's Department Store in New York City by Mike Strand (CC BY 3.0)
Macy’s Department Store in New York City by Mike Strand (CC BY 3.0)

George Seaton uses all the magic of New York for this beautiful Christmas story. Thus, a large part of the film is shot in this big sign, very famous for its gigantic Thanksgivings parade. This show with a large audience lasts three hours. You can see floats and huge balloons with famous people on them. In the United States, the brand is available in 424 stores throughout the country. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the Herald Square building in Manhattan is the largest commercial building in the world at 198,500 square meters. It covers an area of two blocks, which means a two-minute walk along it.

While Macy’s was an integral part of this version, the chain did not wish to participate in the 1994 remake. She was replaced for this one by the fictitious Cole’s store.

Address: 151 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001, USA

2. New York State Supreme Court

The New York State Supreme Court courthouse by Beyond My Ken (CC BY-SA 4.0)

After Kris was hired, the owners of Macy’s were skeptical. They don’t believe the old man’s story about his secret identity. Doris’s daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) is also skeptical. To prove his good faith, Kris goes to this court to show everyone that he is the real Santa Claus.

Miracle on 34th Street is one of the very first films of the then nine-year-old Natalie Wood. The international star then played in West Side Story and Rebel Without a Cause.

Address: New York County Courthouse, New York, NY 10007, USA)

3. Madison Avenue

Madison Square, New York, 1910 (Public domain)
Madison Square, New York, 1910 (Public domain)

During the opening credits, Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) walks on Madison Avenue. Surprisingly, producer Darryl F. Zannuck decided to release Miracle on 34th Street in May, arguing that more people were coming to the theatre at that time. Surprising since the story imagined by George Seaton takes place during the Christmas holidays. The feature film won several awards including the Oscar for Best Actor for Edmund Gwenn and Best Original Story in 1948.

Address: Madison Ave, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Miracle on 34th Street (Les Mayfield, 1994)

George Seaton had in mind to create his own remake of Miracle on 34th Street. But he didn’t have time because he died in 1979. For this new version, John Hughes used his script and the camera was entrusted to Les Mayfield. He turns notably in Central Park West.

Central Park West

The director and his technical teams set up their cameras in Illinois, Chicago and Lake Forest. For the New York shots, they also used the Central Park West set for the giant parade. This grand avenue stretches for 81 blocks and features famous buildings, including the Majestic, the Dakota Building and the American Museum of Natural History.

Address: Central Park West, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA

A true Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street puts magic in the minds of young and old alike. Rerun every year at this time in the United States, George Seaton’s masterpiece brings together millions of viewers in front of their small screen.

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By Damien Canteau

Friday, December 6, 2019

Passionné par l'Histoire, les animés, les Arts et la bande dessinée en particulier, Damien est le rédacteur en chef du site spécialisé dans le 9e art, Comixtrip.

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