A Christmas classic, this was actually released in the US in May 1947 (producers hoped that the ambiguous title wouldn’t tip off moviegoers to the fact it was a Yuletide movie). Kris Kringle (Gwenn, who won an Oscar for his performance) gets a job as Santa Claus at Macy’s, the famous New York department store. It’s there he meets little Susan (an eight-year-old Natalie Wood), who tells him she doesn’t believe in Santa, because her mother (O’Hara) has brought her up to think fairy tales and fantasies are nonsense. But Kris says he is actually the real Santa, a claim that first sees him sent to a mental institution and then to court, where he has to prove he is sane, and indeed the real Mr Claus.
A film positively brimming over with festive spirit, this manages to be a terrific feel-good movie without being remotely sickly or saccharine. One for the whole family (including cynics who don’t believe in Father Christmas!), this was remade in 1994, starring Richard Attenborough as Kris and Mara Wilson as Susan (fictional store Cole’s replaced Macy’s, who wouldn’t let their name be used for the remake). It’s not bad at all (and worth a look if you can’t find the 1947 one), but nothing beats the original.
Is Miracle On 34th Street suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
None, though parents should be prepared for some questions from little ones who still believe in Santa.