I’m a big fan of the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street – perhaps surprisingly so, considering how much I’m in accord with the beliefs that the mother holds toward the beginning of the film. So when I saw a DVD of Miracle on 34th Street for sale at the 99 cent store for their now-standard desperation price of 99.99 cents (that’s an awful lot of effort to up your prices 1%!), I had to give it an extra look. A great and popular film like that isn’t that likely to end up on those shelves there, particularly in a cheap package. It’s not a public domain film. The manufacturer was one I’d bought cheap animation disks from before, but they seemed like a legit company; I didn’t think it was a knock off. Taking a closer look at it… a run time of 47 minutes? And wait, what’s this cast? I would’ve noticed immediately if it were either of the color remakes (the 1990s workmanlike John Hughes remake, or the gawdawful drained-of-all-magic 1970s telefilm.) But… that cast, that’s not the Miracle cast. No Natalie Wood. And Hans Conreid is listed!
So naturally, I invested the dollar (they don’t give you back that hundredth of a penny, the cheapskates!)
There is a slight changed title (It’s “The Miracle on 34th Street”; the original had no “The”). a couple of altered scenes, and a few stray changed lines (“Macy’s sending other people to other stores?” – which has to be a messed up line delivery – and “The district attorney’s Repulican” come to mind) to the degree that my memories can note, but for the most part it’s just the original edited down for length. The result feels a bit like a speed-through reading of a play, but overall is acceptable, except when contrasted with the original. The story is good enough that it survives the lost of the comfortable building of the reality of the work. And the couple of plot changes (such as the mom suggesting to the post office how they might clear out some of their dead letters) are, though not necessary, defensible and not significantly destructive (in contrast to the 1973 attempt.
Doing a bit of research, it turns out this was a 1955 TV adaptation (as I expected from its length), which was presented as an episode of The 20th Century-Fox Hour. This was actually one of two hourlong TV versions of the 1950s; the 1959 version stars Ed Wynn in the Kringle role.
This isn’t a must-see and certainly not a replacement for the 1947 film, but it’s an interesting curiosity for the Miracle fans out there. It was worth my 99.99 cents, and they can keep the change! (The disk is even padded out with a bonus cartoons;: a washed-out print of an English redubbing of a short by Soviet animation house Soyuzmultfilm