Friday, November 26, 2010

George Seaton’s classic Miracle on 34th Street

There are few movies from my childhood that I find my perspective more changed about than George Seaton’s classic Miracle on 34th Street. That’s not to say that I’ve stopped enjoying it since then, but rather that the way I view it has evolved so much over the years that it’s just as interesting for me to think back on how I used to look at it as it is for me to revisit the film itself. Viewed now, as an adult, it’s still a perfectly charming piece of holiday entertainment– granted, it’s by no means up there with Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, the Alastair Sim Scrooge or even any number of animated television specials from the season (nothing beats the Rankin-Bass Rudolph or Good Ol’ Charlie Brown), but nevertheless it’s still a smart, funny piece of Christmastime fairy-tale spinning that greatly benefits from its contemporary setting. Even today, there’s little dated about the 1947 film– sure, Gimbels may have long since gone out of business, but Macy’s still holds its annual balloon-assisted Thanksgiving day parade and fights fierce competition with rival stores for holiday bucks, and plenty of court-cases are still won on pure technicalities or publicity (though nowadays you need bigger help than the U.S. Postal Service).

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