I’m in the middle of the Santa Letter season here at the Southern Standard, and I love it. When I started here 11 years ago, it was a department effort to type in all the letters – prior to them being mailed to Santa. However, I’ve commandeered that responsibility.
Those Santa letters remind me of “Miracle on 34th Street” with Maureen O’Hare (Doris Walker), Edmund Gwenn (Kris Kringle) and Natalie Wood (Susan Walker). Spare me all the remakes. They will never be as good. No way; no how. While I love many other Christmas-related movies, that one stands out as No. 1 for me.
Little known facts:
• Darryl D. Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, released the movie in May to maximize revenue and marketed it as a romantic comedy.
• The Catholic Legion of Decency rated it “morally objectionable” because O’Hara’s character was a divorcee.
• Opening scenes were shot at the 1946 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Gwenn was the parade’s Santa.
• The suburban house featured at the end of the movie is at 24 Derby Rd., Port Washington. Years ago, its owners paid the film homage by placing a replica of Santa’s cane by their fireplace.
• Director George Seaton, a Marx Brothers writer, voiced radio’s “Lone Ranger.”
• Does Kris Kringle’s Foley Square trial scene look familiar? Barzini (Richard Conte) in “The Godfather” was murdered on those courtsteps.
• The movie’s working titles were “It’s Only Human” and “The Big Heart.”
• Jack Albertson from “Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” plays a mail sorter.
• TCM auctioned Wood’s bound screenplay of the film. It sold for $2,125.
• In his Oscar acceptance speech, Gwenn said, “Now I know there’s a Santa Claus.”
• “Miracle on 34th Street” also won Oscars for best screenplay and original story.
• Gwenn nabbed the Kringle role after his cousin Cecil Kellaway rejected it.
• Brooklyn-born Jeff Corey, who plays a reporter, taught acting after being blacklisted during Hollywood’s Red Scare. Among his protégés were Barbra Streisand, Jack Nicholson, Cher, Jane Fonda, Robin Williams, Leonard Nimoy and James Dean.
• In 1985, the movie became one of the first colorized films.
• “Here’s Love,” a 1963 Broadway musical version, was written by Meredith Willson.
• William Hoehne Jr., who played Sam the clerk, appeared in “Gone With the Wind” and “The Grapes of Wrath.”
My favorite “A Christmas Carol” was from 1938. However, unlike “Miracle on 34th Street,” I did like a couple of remakes: “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and “A Flintstones Christmas Carol.” I love both those cartoons.
Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.