George Seaton | 92 mins | TV (HD) | U
I saw the Richard Attenborough-starring remake of Miracle on 34th Street when I was younger and, while I don’t remember a great deal about it, I enjoyed it well enough at the time. As usual, however, all the People Who Know These Things say the original is much better.
I can’t compare (I don’t remember a great deal about the remake, remember), but I can say this version is a great Christmastime film, requisitely magical and heart-warming. The court case finale (or “second half”, more or less) is particularly enjoyable, not least The Bit With The Post Bags. I do like a good court room victory.
Edmund Gwenn is a marvellous, twinkly, thoroughly plausible Santa; John Payne a suitably lawyery lawyer, in the tradition of other crusading screen lawyers both before and since. And he looks so much like someone I could’ve sworn I’d seen him in something else; but I haven’t, so I’ve no idea who he looks like.
It’s wrong to post a review of such a Christmassy film in the middle of January — though not as wrong as the original release date which, at the insistence of Fox’s head Darryl F. Zanuck, was in May (May!) with promotion that played down the Christmas setting. Which, considering the whole story is about a man who thinks he’s Santa Claus, and whether or not he really is, is an impressively underhand piece of marketing.
Still, my January timing may explain the brevity of these remarks, but I’m not hanging onto this review for 12 months (Inglourious Basterds bugged me for most of last year, even if I only had myself to blame) — so, if you’ve not seen Miracle on 34th Street, do try to remember it come this year’s festivities — I believe they begin in about six months, knowing shops these days — because it’s worth a watch.