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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 12/23/00

Miracle on 34th Street
1947 (1999) - 20th Century Fox

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Miracle on 34th Street Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/D-

Specs and Features

97 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with animation and music, scene access (21 chapters), languages: English and French (DD Mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

"I believe."

Okay, so Miracle on 34th Street isn't about finding the true meaning of Christmas. But it does address a problem that has grown to gargantuan proportions in the last half of the 20th century: the over-commercialism of Christmas. And, if that weren't enough, it looks like there are some people out there who have lost their faith in, well… faith. There's only one guy who can make this right - Santa Claus.

It's just another Christmas season for stuffy, single-mom Doris (Maureen O'Hara) and her equally stuffy daughter, Susan (Natalie Wood). A broken heart long ago caused Macy department store executive Doris to be cynical about life - an attitude she passed on to her daughter. They don't believe in fairy tales, magic or Santa Clause for that matter. But when Doris unknowingly hires the real, honest-to-goodness Santa Clause (Edmund Gwenn in an Oscar-winning role) to play himself at the store, good ol' Kris Kringle makes it his mission to become friends with Doris and Susan, and turn them around. Kris slowly tears down the pair's sad facade, and wins their hearts and faith. However, Kris gets into trouble, when the state of New York wants to throw him in the nut house for claiming to be the real Santa Claus. Kris won the hearts of his new friends, but can he convince the entire state of New York?

Putting aside the glaring irony that the filmmakers are preaching about the over-commercialization of Christmas by making Santa Claus the savior of the characters, Miracle on 34th Street is truly a heart warming and classic holiday film. Edmund Gwenn is the reason. His portrayal of Kris Kringle is sincere and completely touching in every respect. I mean this guy really IS Santa! He has enough twinkle in his eyes, charm in his character and love in his voice to succeed in being the most convincing Santa Claus in the history of film.

Fox has presented Miracle on 34th Street on DVD in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The black and white image is good with decent shadow delineation, and an impressive gray scale. Print damage is never an issue a - the film is in as good of shape as you can expect for its age. My only issue with this disc is that the image looks overly hard and "digital" - maybe a little too much edge enhancement was used. The monaural audio is aged, but acceptable, without harshness or excessive hiss. As for extras, the theatrical trailer is the only present you'll find in this stocking.

Miracle on 34th Street remains a true holiday classic, and has captivated children young and old for more than five decades. The story is as timely now as it's ever been, reminding people that faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. We all gotta believe in something, and I for one still believe in the big guy in red!

Greg Suarez
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