"The 20th Century-Fox Hour" The Miracle on 34th Street (TV Episode 1955) Poster

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It's a "Miracle" Santa didn't go to jail for assault!
AbeStreet20 January 2004
To begin with this movie is only 50 minutes long about half as long as the original 1947 version. It moves at a swift clip and feels rushed. I would guess that this made for TV movie was an hour long program with 10 minutes of commercials and 50 minutes of show.

Much of the script is word for word taken from the '47' version. I swear that the scene in which the balloon or a baseball player seen through a window is taken directly from the '47' version. This is not unexpected as this movies production costs were no doubt limited compared to the '47' version.

What I disliked the most was the character interaction. There were good actors/actresses in the film. Teresa Wright, the mother, and Thomas Mitchell, as Santa, have won Oscar's. Ray Collins, the judge, is well known and respected as Lt. Tragg from the PERRY MASON show. Hans Conreid was a recognized supporting actor and an animated voice actor back in his day. Despite these qualifications the actors just don't mingle well. The worst is Thomas Mitchell as Santa. He seems less jolly and more angry. The one story line that leaves the original film is when Santa hits the story psychiatrist with his cane. In the "47" film it is done in private and is more of a smack to the head. In this film Santa clubs the man in from of an audience full of kids and parents. It is almost vicious! I felt no sympathy for this cranky Santa.

However, if you are a fan of the story adding this film to your collection is not a bad idea. It is nice to compare all the different productions of this film. You can obtain it from various auction sites.
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THE MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (TV) (Robert Stevenson, 1955) **1/2
Bunuel197622 December 2007
Frankly, I had never even heard of this condensed TV version (the first of four remakes!) of the original 1947 Oscar-winning classic when I chanced upon it at my local DVD rental shop.

While understandably not up to the standards of the earlier film, a capable director leads a rather remarkable cast: Thomas Mitchell, Teresa Wright, Macdonald Carey, Hans Conried, Dick Foran, Ray Collins, Don Beddoe and Whit Bissell. The child actress playing the little girl seemed awfully familiar to me even though her name – Sandy Descher – didn't ring any bells; it eventually transpired that she had been the girl dumb-struck by the giant ants' attack at the beginning of the sci-fi classic THEM! (1954) – which, ironically, starred the original Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn)!

Although I quite liked this made-for-TV version overall, I think the brief 45-minute running time ultimately worked against it – as the narrative seemed awfully rushed in spots! Besides, the cast – while commendably entering into the spirit of the thing – seemed somewhat less sympathetic than the performers of the previous version (Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, etc.) had been.
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Yes Virginia....
jotix10020 February 2005
This abridged TV episode was done by 20th Century Fox as part of a way to keep up with the emerging popularity of the new medium. The shortness of the piece explains the format of under one hour for the program.

As far as the remake is concerned, its director, Robert Stevenson, does a good job in recreating the atmosphere. The young actress, Sandy Descher, as Susan, is pretty intense for a girl her age. If one adds the likable actress Teresa Wright, as the mother, who happens to work for Macy's and McDonald Carey, as the neighbor, Fred Gaily, the casting is excellent.Both had appeared in Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt", and they have an easy time with one another.

Thomas Mitchell makes a delightful Kris Kringle. Also in the cast, we see Ray Collins, a veteran film actor and Hans Conried, who is Ms. Wright's supervisor.

A timeless story told with conviction.
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First Television Version of Classic is Entertaining Retelling!
cariart22 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Thanks to the recent 'Special Edition' release of the 1947 classic "Miracle on 34th Street", this first 'remake' of the tale, included in the 'Special Features', is available for everyone to enjoy...and while it lacks the magic of the film, it is certainly entertaining in it's own right!

There were, surprisingly, five versions of the Valentine Davies Christmas story produced over 47 years, each offering a different emotional 'spin' to the question, "Could Santa Exist in a Materialistic World?". The 1955 version, aired as an episode of "The 20th Century-Fox Hour", was certainly the closest in 'look' to the original (utilizing footage from the film, to help offset a tiny budget, and offering Herbert Heyes, reprising his role as Mr. Gimbel), and benefits from a first-rate cast of major stars (Teresa Wright and MacDonald Carey, who had worked together in Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt", John Ford 'stock company' stars Thomas Mitchell and Dick Foran, Orson Welles' Mercury Theater alum Ray Collins, and veteran character actors Hans Conried and Whit Bissell). While 10-year-old Sandy Descher lacked the skeptical sweetness of Natalie Wood in the key role of young Susan, veteran director Robert Stevenson, juggling a large cast and short running time, kept things moving so quickly that her shortcomings were easily overlooked.

I'm a great fan of Oscar-winner Thomas Mitchell, and his portrayal of Kris Kringle is a gem, but he seems more a bearded leprechaun than Santa Claus, with a 'snap salute' greeting, and Irish mischief concealed behind those twinkling eyes! In a major divergence from the film, he actually DOES strike Sawyer (John Abbott), in front of a roomful of children, for attacking his claim of being Santa Claus (which, in the original, was a trumped-up charge to get Kris committed). Edmund Gwenn's portrayal was, and still is, the yardstick by which all "Santa Clauses" are measured...and, truthfully, no one else has ever come close.

The major problem in the 1955 production isn't in the casting, however; it is in the brevity. A magical story of renewing one's sense of wonder and innocence, of rediscovering love and why we need Santa Claus, requires time to unfold, and less than an hour simply isn't long enough! Despite all of the talent involved, this version never comes across as more than an 'abridged' copy of the original, and would be easily 'passed over' without it's classic ancestor's name attached to it. But it is still fun, and worth viewing!
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A Favourite Choped to Pieces
MadDoctor6119 December 2016
Miracle on 34th Street is one of my favourite stories. I found this in a DVD collection of Christmas movies. I was hoping it would be a redeeming factor to the uninspiring collection. I'm sad to say it wasn't. There is very little new or original here, though with its short run-time, there is lots missing. Do yourself a favour and skip this version and watch the original, its basically the same movie. Or else try one of the other available versions. This one was a waste of time.

It's even sadder that I have to write ten lines of dreck to fill up the minimum length requirement. There's not much to say. Half the movie is missing. I wouldn't have minded that so much if they tried to do it in an original way, but instead, they just chopped out half the movie.
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I liked it!
cinnamonbear195930 October 2010
I liked this very entertaining TV version of Miracle On 34th St. Although the film had to be cut to a shorter running time, all the key scenes are there. Thomas Mitchell, Teresa Wright, Hans Conried to name a few were some of the fine actors of the time. Thomas Mitchell, one of my favorite actors appeared in such great films as Gone With The Wind and It's A Wonderful Life. I didn't care for one scene in this film.The clubbing scene with the cane didn't work for me.It was a little too much over the top for Santa Claus. The scene in the courtroom with the letters was actually a little better than the 1947 version, I thought. A nice adaptation and a decent version to add to anyone's collection of holiday films.
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The Reader's Digest version
FlushingCaps16 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Condensing one of my favorite film's--the 1947 version, into a 45-minute show had to be a mistake. Scenes that made the original great were omitted or condensed. One of everyone's favorite scenes in the original was when they hauled in all those bags of mail in the court room. This quickie version had just two men shown bringing in mailbags! The opening where Kris had applied and been hired for the job of Santa instead of filling in on an emergency basis definitely started this train going off the tracks and it became a total train wreck with the added scene described by other reviewers here.

The original had a scene in Sawyer's office where Kris, frustrated, gave him a light tap with his cane. Most viewers could easily side with him at that point. This 1955 version has it played where Kris gives a full overhead swing clobbering Sawyer on his head from behind, in front of a room full of children and their parents.

I cannot picture any type of Santa Claus viciously clubbing someone in front of a bunch of children. To me, this changed the whole tone of the show.

Even without that scene, the rest of this show seemed speeded up. My DVR can play things where you hear everything but it runs faster than it took to record. I kept checking to make sure I wasn't doing this by accident.

The scenes they took out were instrumental in making the original a great movie. I imagine most anyone seeing this version first would have no interest in watching any of the other fine versions that got the full treatment. As presented, the show is disturbing and lacks most of the charm of the original.
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A 'Miracle' it was ever aired!
FredGailey30 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
If I could have I would have rated this -10! This movie is a disaster and what makes it so is the acting. Its amateur and thats putting it as nicely as possible. Its as if they're all reading straight off the cue cards with no expressions on their faces or inflection or emotion in their voices. I despise the '94 remake but this version makes the '94 film seem Oscar worthy. Now I hate when people imply sinister things that aren't really there in a film thats wholesome fare, but there's something about the way this Santa interacts with Susan, it comes off creepy. Made me uncomfortable watching their scenes together. And his portrayal of Santa didn't help matters, his performance was awkward at best. He had this wild look in his eyes throughout the whole film, that really did make him look like he should be committed. And when he hit Mr. Sawyer, it was not the innocent "V8 bop" Gwenn gives in the '47 version, instead he literally clubs him and in front of the children and then after stands there with this evil grin on his face, makes the viewer hardly sympathetic to his plight. Also, the whole plot that involved Mr. Sawyer giving a speech about the non-existence of Santa at Susans school, where the incident I just mentioned took place, was beyond contrived. What kind of school would hold an assembly for the purpose of ruining the fantasy idol of grade school children?? I understand that this is fiction, but there still has to be a basis in reality somewhere. The scene I just described was one of many deviations from the original movie. Another that didn't sit well was that Doris only finds Kris after he applies for the job as Santa instead of stumbling upon him at the actual parade....I think that sort of took some "magic" out of the tale. It just seemed the lightheartedness, innocence, sentiment and charm captured by the 1947 original was completely lacking in this. It was wholly miscast and poorly acted and it completely missed its mark. They should have just aired the original movie back in 1955 and made an annual tradition of it similar to what they did with 'The Wizard of Oz' and maybe the original 'Miracle' would be just as beloved. I could go on and on about what a travesty this picture is, but I have a 1000 word limit, just stick to the 1947 version is my sound advice.
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Other than a curiosity, I don't see a lot of point to this film...
MartinHafer18 November 2011
This is a television version of "Miracle on 34th Street". In most ways, it's the 1947 film all over again but with a few plot lines eliminated and an insanely fast delivery. The actors literally deliver their lines at break-neck speed--and it makes for a curious and unimpressive film. In no way at all is the film better than the classic version--and in most ways it is inferior. While Macdonald Carey and Theresa Wright try their best, they just aren't as good as John Payne and Maureen O'Hara. The same can be said for Santa. While Thomas Mitchell was okay--he just wasn't as sweet and wonderful as Edmund Gwen. However, the biggest difference is little Susan Walker. While Sandy Descher was competent, she wasn't even close to Natalie Wood--who delivered one of the best performances of a child in any film of the era.

So, if this film is based very closely on the original, is VERY rushed and in no way is as good, you may be tempted to say 'why bother watching this 1955 version?'--and I'd insist that you are 100% correct! An odd curio but nothing more.
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As a dollar bin DVD it's worth it
hocfocprod28 December 2005
I haven't seen this in quite some time, but when my wife spotted the DVD in the $1.50 bin at a party store (and then 50% off because it was after Christmas) it seemed like a no-brawnier. The title, "Meet Mr Kringle" was used, but the photo is from the theatrical 1947 Miracle on 34th Street. That is more than a little misleading, but I wanted to know if this was the TV version I had seen so many years ago and it was worth 75 cents to find out. If you're interested in owning a little part of early remake history troll the $1 bins at your local Wal-Mart or Target or check the DVD's at the Dollar stores.

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Condensed Version of the classic story
Christmas-Reviewer21 April 2017

This television adaption of the story is well made. The film is quick and to the point. I just saw this for the first time and I really did enjoy it. The story seemed fresh and new but then it has been 20+ years since I have seen any version of this story.

In case you don't know the story A department store Santa Claus must prove that he is, in fact, the real Santa in a court of law.

You can find this version on DVD in multi-packs of films selling for bargain prices. I bought my set of 20 Christmas Movies for $12
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Good Version of the Classic Story
Michael_Elliott22 December 2011
Miracle on 34th Street (1955)

*** (out of 4)

Made-for-TV remake of the 1947 classic has Thomas Mitchell playing Kris Kringle who gets a job at Macy's where he tries to convince a non-believing mother (Teresa Wright) and her daughter (Sandy Descher) that he is real and there's nothing wrong in believing. This film doesn't come close to the 1947 movie and I'd say it also falls well short of the 1994 version but there's still enough here to make it worth viewing. Clocking in less than an hour, there's no doubt that the film flies by and I think the story itself is just so charming that it would be nearly impossible to mess it up. As with the earlier version, the story itself is just so good that even the most jaded adult will find themselves wanting to believe in Santa and that's why the story itself is so priceless. Another strong thing this version has going for it are the performances. Mitchell, best remembered for IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, does a very good job in the role of Santa. He's certainly looks the part quite well, which shocked me but he's also got that certain charm that was just made for the role of Santa. It also doesn't hurt that he too has the charm to make you want to believe the character really is Santa. Wright is also very good in her role as the mother who doesn't want to believe and Descher is good as the daughter, although her crying scenes aren't that impressive. Macdonald Carey plays the love interest/lawyer and Dick Foran makes an appearance as well. Again, there's certainly nothing ground-breaking about this version and if you must watch only one then it's best to go with the original but if you're curious about all the different versions out there or if this one here is just within reach of you, it's certainly worth viewing.
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Stick with the 1947 classic
stuprince6 May 2002
A bad TV remake of a Christmas classic. Little known actors speak the exact same lines as the 1947 theater version, but they do it so badly you begin to feel bad for all of them. I wish I could come up with a positive...well, at least they left the script alone!
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A Decent, Truncated Version
gavin694218 December 2012
One Kris Kringle (Thomas Mitchell), a department-store Santa Claus, causes quite a commotion by suggesting customers go to a rival store for their purchases...

So, of course, this is not as good as the original, which has since become one of the all-time Christmas classics. And unlike the original, which had a few names in it, this one really has no stars that anyone has ever heard of. And, yes, it does not look as good as the original because no one has bothered to remaster it.

But for what it is, it is not a bad little film. If you want to watch the original story but do not have two hours, here you go: the basic plot in under an hour. I appreciated it, because sometimes you just do not want to invest that much time in television.
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Shortened version can't compare to classic original
SimonJack28 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Is there anyone who has not yet seen the original (1947) "Miracle on 34th Street?" Should there be such a person and he or she comes across this 1955 shortened TV remake of the film, it's worth watching -- but, just barely. This probably never plays on TV anymore, and one can understand why. It's no match for the original.

One would have to pity the writers who had to reduce the 96-minute original to way under 60 minutes. There was too much in that original to even try to condense it all. Something had to go, and that usually was the filler that tied the parts together. So, this TV adaptation comes across as choppy. Viewers are robbed of too much information to have the story unfold smoothly, as in the original. Still, there is the semblance of the main story here, and the performance of Thomas Mitchell as Kris Kringle helps make it at least palatable. His performance and a rough but still evident main story are the only reasons why this adaptation deserves even five stars. Note though, that this is a different, rougher Kris Kringle character.

Unfortunately, for this film, Mitchell's is the only part worth mentioning. There isn't another performer who comes close to the counterpart performance in the 1947 film. And, the subplots of the film – i.e., the romance between Doris Walker (Teresa Wright) and Fred Gaily (Macdonald Carey) and the transformation of Doris are incomplete and hardly believable. They happen too fast, with so much missing in between.

I can excuse some significant changes from the original (i.e., the courtroom scene with reindeer), as an effort to spice up the gutted remnant of a great film. Other changes alter the substance of the story (i.e. Doris having the idea for the Post Office to deliver Santa's mail to the courthouse).

I had seen this film on TV long ago, and watched it again recently since it was on my DVD of the original movie. Once the original film's copyright expired and it became part of the public domain (early 1970s), all the remakes before and since then were probably doomed to any future viewing. This second-rate scaled back remake fits in that group.
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The one and only Santa Claus
bkoganbing10 July 2016
That Scottish accent of Edmund Gwenn's could never be duplicated in this cut down made for TV version of Miracle On 34th Street and Thomas Mitchell doesn't try. Still Mitchell does a fine job as the man who thinks he's Santa Claus and convinces a lot of people he is before this is over.

What's lost here a lot is the romantic connection between Macdonald Carey playing the lawyer and Teresa Wright as the Macy's executive stepping into the familiar roles that John Payne and Maureen O'Hara made memorable. Also the scenes with mother and daughter where war widow O'Hara tries to educate daughter Natalie Wood that it's not a world for fairy tales. Sandy Descher plays Natalie Wood's part.

This is an acceptable, good, but not outstanding version of a classic.
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A thrill for early TV audiences, and for us years later, not bad for a shortened version of the Christmas classic.
mark.waltz22 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Best known for his feisty role as Pop O'Hara in the epic "Gone With the Wind", Thomas Mitchell was a delightful character actor whose old world spirit made him a fan favorite. To be cast as Kris Kringle, the Macy's Santa who claims to be the real deal, was an inspired idea for T.V. anthology series, and he grabs the role with gusto just as young Sandy Descher does his beard. Equally as lovable but forgotten in this role thanks to the Oscar Winning performance of Edmund Gwenn, Mitchell is even more jolly thanks to his Irish charm and holiday spirit. Descher is perhaps a more natural actress than Natalie Wood who sometimes seemed forced and cloying in her attempts at acting. Teresa Wright lacks the warmth of Maureen O'Hara, even in that character's initial cynicism, you could tell that O'Hara was laying on her emotions while Ms. Wright is far less glamorous and thus seems icier even as the character warms up to Mitchell's charms.

Taking over the John Payne part is that Mr. "Sands of the Hour Glass" himself, MacDonald Carey, who would dress up on occasion as "Days of Our Lives'" Tom Horton. His performance is nicely layered as he manages, along with Mitchell, to warm up Descher to the joys of childhood, and breaks through Wright's frozen form as he romances her much to Ms. Descher's delight. Also very funny are Hans Conried as the head of personnel, John Abbott as an ultra-nervous psychiatrist, Ray Collins as the perplexed judge and Don Beddoe as Mr. Macy himself.

I am not much of a Santa Claus fan in the year 2015 as the obsession with going crazy to find the perfect gift and the lack of the real meaning of Christmas has been over-shadowed with his presence and not in the old-fashioned manner. However, in growing up, there was a correlation between Santa and the real meaning of Christmas, and here, it is given more than just the slightest hint that Santa believes in more than just gift giving, just as the hints would be made about the very first Christmas by Mickey Rooney's Santa in "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". This helped remind me of what joy I used to feel at Christmas and returned my somewhat missing holiday spirit.

While this isn't a classic in the sense of the original version (and greatly overshadowed by it), it is certainly remarkable and nicely done in the sense that at this time, the movie had not been made ready for T.V. broadcast. Probably still shown in repeat movie theater runs, it would be held for years in addition to other holiday classics. So even at just 45 minutes, this is perfectly joyous and to see Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimble shaking hands and laughing over the irony of it really does bring out the true meaning of what the real Father Christmas wanted: Peace and joy and good will between men. If big business rivals can shake hands on the holidays, why can't the rest of us?
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Great TV production even though it was less then an hour
unkadunk08017 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Like everyone I fondly recall the 1947 version with Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle and can remember seeing it on TV and telling my father "He is Santa Claus Daddy!"and when my father me how I knew that in my childhood innocence i said "I just know that Daddy!"and of course at the end i said "See Daddy I was right!" and even now when ever I have the chance to watch it I still enjoy it and as for the 1955 version since it was less then an hour they did the best they could and it had a great cast with Thomas Mitchell as Kris Kringle ,Mcdonald Carey as Fred Gailey,Teresa Wright as Doris,Sandy Descher as Susan(who had a role as the little girl in Them!In 1954)along with a great supporting cast including Dick Foran,John Abbott,Hans Conried,Ray Collins Whit Bissell and others as well and this was a good version and while they had to cut some things the cast did a great job .And I must take exception to an earlier comment from another reviewer who said that it was a cast of unknowns !While I hate to say this he was wrong because the cast was composed of reliable character actors who all did a fantastic job in the little time they had to work with And I really enjoyed this
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A fine adaptation!
Sylviastel22 January 2014
This television version of the screen classic is less than an hour long with a great cast. Thomas Mitchell does a fine job as Kris Krinle also known as Santa Claus who is hired as the Christmas Santa at Macy's department store in New York City. Teresa Wright is great as the mother and skeptical personnel manager at the store. Her friend, neighbor, and handy attorney is played by Macdonald Carey. The film does seem rushed but fine to me because I actually haven't seen the classic film version or the updated one. This short but sweet hour is quite a treat. While the episode is a part of staged theatrical television programs that was popular at the time.
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