Last week I asked you what your favorite holiday-movie houses were and was amazed by the number of tweets, Facebook comments, and emails that came pouring in. One of the most mentioned was the classic Miracle on 34th Street, starring a precocious 8-year old Natalie Wood as the little girl who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus.
My favorite part of the movie has always been when Susan sees her dream house and realizes that Kris Kringle has gotten it for her. That made a big impression on me as a kid. “You mean I can ask Santa for a HOUSE?”
Maureen O’Hara starred as Doris Walker, a single mom who works for Macy’s, organizing the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Let’s take a look at her New York City apartment. There are curtains on either side of the entry:
The movie was deemed “morally objectionable” by the Legion of Decency at the time because it featured a divorced woman. We see her neighbor Fred Gailey does a double-take when Susan tells him that her parents divorced when she was a baby.
It was also less common to see a successful professional woman onscreen in 1947, when the movie came out.
Edmund Gwenn played the kind-hearted old man who insists he’s Kris Kringle. He’s still one of my favorite onscreen Santas.
Maureen O’Hara always seemed so, well, grown up in this movie that I was surprised to learn she was only 27 when she filmed it.
One of my favorite things to see in old movies are the kitchens because those are the rooms that have probably changed more than any other over the years. Considering how roomy the rest of the apartment is, this one is pretty cozy!
The Apartment Kitchen:
Susan shows Santa this picture of a Cape Cod on Long Island she wants for Christmas:
Doris could look through her window into her neighbor Fred’s apartment and see her daughter watching the parade with him:
Fred (played by John Payne) had the perfect view of the parade from this windowseat:
The impressive scenes of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were footage of the actual parade held in 1946. Edmund Gwenn was really Santa that year, too. They had to get all the shots they needed that day because retakes were impossible to get later.
In the end, Susan thinks Kris Kringle hasn’t come through for her, but she keeps telling herself, “I believe. I believe,” as she’s riding in a car with Fred and her mother. Then she sees the simple Cape Cod she had wished for with a “For Sale” sign in the yard.
I still get chills every time she cries, “Stop, Uncle Fred, stop!” and then runs up to the front door.
The House Santa Gives Susan for Christmas:
Susan’s “Miracle” House Today:
Love the scene where little Susie runs around the empty house, squealing with delight.
Every time I see the movie I’m disappointed that we don’t get the full tour of the house. Or get to see it after they move in with all their furniture in it! Is that too much to ask?
Kris Kringle’s cane is in the corner by the fireplace, which convinces them that maybe there is a little Christmas magic involved in all this, after all…