Miracle on 34th Street: 70th Anniversary Edition

| October 14, 2017

It’s no secret that my holiday of choice is Halloween, as the things I review here on FilmMonthly more often than not tend to be horror films it seems. I self-identify as a horror hound, and nine times out of ten will choose to watch a horror film over a film of any other sort, no matter what the season. This is as true of my film viewing habits during the Christmas season as it is any other.

Yet, even as I spend my nights during the month of December watching all the Silent Night, Deadly Night films and Black Christmas (1974), I gleefully spend my days with the family gorging myself on every piece of sappy, heartwarming Christmas media I can get my hands on. I have a whole collection of Christmas movies in fact, which is every bit as full of Christmas Carol adaptations and Home Alone movies as it is full of Santa-related horror. I embrace the Christmas spirit almost as wholeheartedly as I do the Halloween spirit.

And in order to fill myself with that seasonally-required love of mankind and spirit of giving, I do what a lot of folks do: I turn to the classics. Annual screenings of It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Christmas Vacation (1989), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), Home Alone (1990) and as many as a half dozen Christmas Carols play at the Burnham household during Christmas for that exact purpose. Added to the rotation this year is a film I’d seen as a child and have hoped to revisit for some time: Miracle on 34th Street (1947).

The film is pure Christmas nostalgia of the sort that aims to make you laugh and cry in rapid succession. It’s a film about the magic of Christmas, the belief that the spirit of Christmas is so powerful it might in fact take the shape of a person such as ourselves in the form of old St. Nick. And boy doesn’t that sound sappy?  Well, it is, but all the best Christmas movies are, and sap it’s got in bucketfuls.  At the same time, though, as the film’s trailer promotes, it’s a film that’s got everything, something for every man, woman and child from romance to comedy to excitement.

So it feels like Christmas, but what’s it about?, you might be wondering at this point. It’s about putting Christmas on trial! And did I mention how much I love a good courtroom drama too? It’s about a Macy’s department store Santa, Kris Kringle, and the city that holds a magnifying glass up to children’s faith in Father Christmas after Kris is declared insane. In that, Miracle on 34th Street is a film that’s every bit as much about Christmas itself as films like Trick ‘r Treat (2007) are about Halloween—a loving celebration of our devotion to holiday traditions. (See how I made sense out of this whole Christmas-Halloween thing I started at the opening of the article?)

Except for Scream Factory’s release of the aforementioned Black Christmas, perhaps no recent Christmas-related home video release has excited me more than Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of the Miracle on 34th Street: 70th Anniversary Edition (also available on DVD and Digital HD). And I’m thrilled to have added the Blu-ray with its gorgeous transfer to my collection. Special features on the 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray include:

  • Feature Audio Commentary by Maureen O’Hara
  • Hollywood Backstories: Miracle on 34th Street
  • Fox Movietone News Footage: Hollywood Spotlight
  • Miracle on 34th Street TV Version [though this is apparently a DVD-ONLY special feature, which is disappointing for those of us who prefer high definition]
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Floating in History Featurette
  • Promotional Short
  • Poster Gallery

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
Filed in: Video and DVD
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