Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)


An excerpt of a review recently posted on Schaeffer's Ghost:
Miracle on 34th Street is, in many ways, a quintessential example of the heart-warming ‘Christmas’ movie. There isn’t even a whiff of the real Christmas story, of course. That would be too much to ask. Instead, it celebrates Christmas by decrying selfish commercialism and encouraging kindness and goodwill—though it is worth noting that much of the ‘progress’ is itself motivated by pure, unadulterated self-interest. For example, Mr. Macy endorses Kris’s new policy of sending shoppers elsewhere if Macy’s cannot supply their needs because he believes that it will benefit him to be perceived as kind and customer-oriented. Gimbel follows suit so as not to miss out on the public relations benefits of this ‘kindness.’ The two retail giants compete for the role of generous benefactor not because they actually are generous, but because they wish to appear generous in order to receive a financial benefit. And Macy later defends Kris in court not because he actually believes his claims, but because to do otherwise would be bad for business. Similarly, the judge who presides over Santa’s trial is reluctant to lock Kris away not because it would be unjust to do so, or because of any desire to uphold the ‘spirit of Christmas’, but because he fears it would hurt his chances of re-election. Thus, there is a broad streak of humorous skepticism behind this touchy-feely tale, which gives the story a depth and complexity that is lacking in much of the usual holiday treacle.
Full review available here.

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