Miracle on 34th Street
Stills From "Miracle on 34th Street" Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.  All rights reserved.


Cast:

Doris Walker - Maureen O'Hara
Fred Gailey - John Payne
Susan Walker - Natalie Wood
Kris Kringle - Edmund Gwenn
Judge Henry X. Harper - Gene Lockhart
Thomas Mara - Jerome Cowan
Mr. Shelhammer - Philip Tongue
Mr. Sawyer - Porter Hall
Dr. Pierce - James Seay
RH Macy - Harry Anatrim
Alfred - Alvin Greenman
Charlie -William Frawley
Lady in Macy's - Thelma Ritter
Mrs. Shelhammer - Lela Bliss

Director: George Seaton
Producer: William Perlberg
Screenplay: George Seaton
Cinematography: Charles Clark & Lloyd Ahern
Editor: Robert Simpson
Music: Cyril Mockridge

Based on a story by Valentine Davies

This timeless Christmas classic has been served up every Christmas holiday since it was released in 1947 and still remains an alltime classic favorite of fans throughout the world.  Today's Hollywood quite typically felt they could modernize it with the passing years and all re-makes proved to be dismal failures at the box office.  Much of this popularity of the genuine item has to do with the impressive cast - in particular  - Edmund Gwenn, John Payne, Maureen O'Hara, Natalie Wood, and Gene Lockhart.  Maureen O'Hara seems to have a knack for performing in Holiday classics; first "Miracle on 34th Street" - then "The Quiet Man" which returns with frequency every St. Patrick's Day, and then, much later in 1997 O'Hara brought her magic to a Christmas seasonal TV movie, "The Christmas Box."

Ironically, "Miracle" is the story of a working, single mother, Doris Walker, who holds an administrative position at Macy's Department Store in New York City.  This is not the typical theme of that late 40's era. Mothers in films were mostly housewives - conveying the "Woman's place is in the home" mentality.  Natalie Wood played the darling, but precocious little daughter, Susan, and her mother, Maureen O'Hara, is struggling to raise her after a divorce.  Bitter because of her failed marriage, Doris makes it a point to have teach her daughter that you must accept reality. Fantasy and make-believe have no room in her world.

Two very special men enter the lives of Doris and little Susan, and in true Christmas spirit, it would be Santa Claus who brings them all together. Fred Gailey (played by John Payne) is the handsome young attorney and neighbor who befriends little Susan and becomes smitten with Susan's mother, Doris. Edmund Gwenn plays the quaint gentleman who professes to be the "real" Santa.  Problems unfold for both Santa and Fred as they try to convince little Susan that it's okay to have dreams and that they do come true. The biggest obstacle is when Santa is taken to court and must prove he is indeed the real Santa.  The ending for this Christmas story is predictably that of blissful happiness.

In the true spirit of Christmas stories, Doris, Fred and Susan not only become a family, but they almost magically find a little cottage in the suburbs. Santa, having proven his true identity, mysteriously disappears into our dreams.

NOTE:  This was a movie that Maureen recalls as being "A very pleasant experience." She was privileged to work with very charming people and it remains a pleasant memory for her. When Maureen and John Candy were on Johnny Carson show in 1991 promoting their film "Only The Lonely" Johnny asked Maureen about "Miracle on 34th St." She said that not long ago she was in New York and was coming out of Mass and these two little boys came up behind her and tugged on her coat. once said, "Are you the lady that knows Santa Claus?" and Maureen smiled and said, "Yes I know him well." Then, commenting on two of her holiday classics, Maureen said, "A hundred years from now, long after I'm nailed into the box, you'll still be seeing Maureen O'Hara in 'Miracle on 34th Street' every Christmas and 'The Quiet' Man every St. Paddy's Day."

What a wonderful legacy!  God Bless you Maureen O'Hara!!!


Natalie Wood back stage with Maureen, whom she called
"MaMa Maureen."