6.5/10
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Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

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3:14 | Trailer
A lawyer and a little girl must prove that a man claiming to be Santa Claus is the real thing.

Director:

Les Mayfield
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Attenborough ... Kris Kringle
Elizabeth Perkins ... Dorey Walker
Dylan McDermott ... Bryan Bedford
J.T. Walsh ... Ed Collins
James Remar ... Jack Duff
Jane Leeves ... Alberta Leonard
Simon Jones ... Donald Shellhammer
William Windom ... C.F. Cole
Mara Wilson ... Susan Walker
Robert Prosky ... Judge Henry Harper
Kathrine Narducci ... Mother
Mary McCormack ... Myrna Foy
Alvin Greenman ... The Doorman
Allison Janney ... Woman in Christmas Shop
Greg Noonan ... Cmdr. Coulson
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Storyline

A little girl discovers dreams do come true if you really believe. Six-year-old Susan has doubts about childhood's most enduring miracle, Santa Claus. Her mother told her the "secret" about Santa a long time ago, so Susan doesn't expect to receive the most important gifts on her Christmas list. But after meeting a special department store Santa who's convinced he's the real thing, Susan is given the most precious gift of all, something to believe in. Written by Robert Lynch <docrlynch@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Discover the Miracle. See more »

Genres:

Family | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

18 November 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Miracle on 34th Street See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,753,208, 20 November 1994

Gross USA:

$17,320,136

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$46,264,384
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bryan Bedford (Dylan McDermott) is the only main character whose name differs from that of Miracle on 34th Street (1947) (Fred Gailey). Bedford is the name of the town in which George Bailey resides in It's a Wonderful Life (1946), another Christmas classic. See more »

Goofs

(Around 61 minutes) the judge says the hearing is set for "Thursday morning, 9am." AM means in the morning so he should have said either "Thursday morning, 9 o'clock" or "Thursday, 9am." See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Grandson: Ask him. Ask him. Look at him, Grandpa. Ask him.
Judge Henry Harper: Uh, I'm sorry. He, uh he thinks you're Santa Claus.
[Kris Kringle and Judge Harper laugh]
Kris Kringle: [quietly to Harper's grandson] I am.
[to Harper]
Kris Kringle: Merry Christmas.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film 2017: Episode dated 2 December 2014 (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Performed by Dionne Warwick
Written by Meredith Willson
Produced by Jeremy Lubbock and Elliot Lurie
Courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Do you believe? If so, why?
23 December 2007 | by OctSee all my reviews

Richard Attenborough returned to acting after 14 years behind the camera in "Jurassic Park", and followed it swiftly by daring to challenge comparison with Oscar-winner Edmund Gwenn in this remake.

As a heartwarmer for those inadequates who won't sit through a 60-year-old monochrome movie-- albeit one which rivals "It's a Wonderful Life" as Hollywood's answer to "A Christmas Carol"-- this John Hughes revamp will probably serve. Anyhow, there are plenty of copies on sale at the checkout of my local supermarket. But it is a bit too laid-back and, latterly, too bogged down in argument for younger kids or older boys. It may warm more cockles among the grandparents.

The main thematic interest is how Hughes chooses to tweak the original screen story as adapted (unusually for the time) by the director, George Seaton. Whether he sought to or not, the remake has thrown up some intriguing twists for a more skeptical and secular time.

The oldie caught the mood of an America yearning to get back to normalcy amid the perils of the post-war, Cold War world. Location shooting in New York City, with much co-operation from Macys, gave a touch of realism to the fantasy, whereas in 1994 it's an imaginary store and (for Americans, at least) an incongruously "veddy British" claimant to the chair of Santa Claus- although his nationality is not the issue when the legal meanies of the State of New York try to get him confined to the bughouse.

What is striking is the judge's rationale for allowing Kris's plea for freedom. Because US bills have "In God We Trust" on them, he reasons, it means New York is allowed to have blind faith in the existence of a supernatural being who lays presents on 1.7 billion children in one night, operating from invisible workshops with reindeer which cannot be made to fly in a courtroom demonstration of his powers because it isn't Christmas Eve. Besides, the sneery prosecutor's kids were raised to believe in him, so there- case closed.

In real life the ACLU would be appealing such a judgement all the way to the Supreme Court for allowing too much religion into the law and the public square. "In God We Trust" was only put on the money during the Cold War, to cock a snook at "Godless bolshevism"; but this film is refreshingly disrespectful to the newer orthodoxy of playing down most Americans' beliefs in their films.

Kris asks if he should swear in the Bible, the Pope's ruling on Nicholas's sanctity is debated, and the ethos is quietly but unmistakably Christian. No "spiritual" Santa or "Happy Holidays" here. In a very light fashion, the film does revolve issues of how far it is legitimate to maintain a metaphor as a source of inspiration when rationalism of the Dawkins and Hitchens strain is sniping at it. The screenplay also looks quite beadily at the way commercial operators use holy myth to make money, even if the message comes muted from Hollywood.

That is the good news. There's plenty to carp at as well.

Attenborough's quiet, gentle but firm performance (most atypical of one who spent his previous acting time mainly playing unreliables or martinets) suffuses the film. He gets little competition, save from the contrasted crustiness of Windom. Most of the support is so-so, on the level of a Yuletide TV special, and not excluding little Wilson as the girl who has faith in Mr Kringle's claim to be St Nicholas. She is no Margaret O'Brien, if no worse in her way than the kewpie-doll Natalie Wood. In fact, she's a John Hughes moppet who did little later and nothing since 2000.

The narrative's departures from the well shaped original are no help. Once off the legal hook, Kris, wearing a brown suit, just disappears-- we don't see any triumphal sleigh ride to bid him adieu-- while attention shifts to a ridiculous post-midnight-mass impromptu wedding in a Catholic church. Then follows a trip out to a dream house in the snowy country, ushered by a silly salesman. The film does not seem to know when to call a halt, and there's not so much as Clarence's tinkling bell to bring back Kris at the close. It's as if the whole object of the exercise was to unite two bland characters in matrimony.


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