In 1994, John Hughes produced and wrote the screenplay for an updated version of the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street. Elizabeth Perkins was cast as the tough and practical single-mom Dorey Walker, and Mara Wilson played her daughter Susan, who’s been taught not to believe in fairytales–and that includes Santa Claus.
Watching the movie again, I was struck by how they tried to give the sets a timeless look. First, let’s take a look at Dorey’s New York City apartment, and you’ll see what I mean.
Although there are some signs of the ’90s if you’re looking for them, the apartment isn’t as dated as you’d expect it to be after nearly 20 years. The white kitchen with stainless-steel appliances, for example, still looks great:
Unlike the original, which was filmed in New York City, this version was shot in Chicago. Macy’s refused to give producers permission to use their name for this one, so they substituted the made-up Cole’s Department Store for it. (When we were watching it over the weekend, my daughter Lily asked, “Kohl’s? It doesn’t look like a Kohl’s!”)
Sure enough, Kris comes through for her. Bryan and Dorey get married (in one of the oddest wedding ceremonies ever, while Susan is apparently back at the apartment by herself), and the next day they’re handed the keys to Susan’s dream house:
Just a little bigger and fancier than the one in the original! Our vision of what a “dream house” is seems to have grown a lot since the ’40s. (You can see Natalie Wood’s Cape Cod from the first movie here.)
The rooms in Susan’s new house in the 1940s were were all empty. But here they’re all lavishly decorated for Christmas:
Last week I showed you the sets from the original Miracle on 34th Street. Do you have a favorite version?
All three actors have been in other projects with great houses I’ve featured:
- Dylan McDermott is an unlucky homeowner on “American Horror Story”
- Elizabeth Perkins was Diane Lane’s sister in Must Love Dogs
- Mara Wilson was Robin Williams’ daughter in Mrs. Doubtfire