MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1973)
Article 5056 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Fielder Cook
Featuring Sebastian Cabot, Jane Alexander, David Hartman
What it is: TV-Movie remake of a classic
The new Santa for Macy’s turns out to believe he’s the real thing, and complications ensue.
The direction is not particularly inspired, the touches designed to make it seem more contemporary are unnecessary, and I can live without the songs, but fortunately, there’s only a very few of those. Beyond that, I mostly don’t have a problem with this remake of the perennial Christmas classic. For one thing, it’s well cast and there’s a lot of familiar faces in appropriate roles; on top of those listed above, the movie also features Jim Backus, Roddy McDowall, Tom Bosley and James Gregory. It also sticks fairly closely to the original story, and the story is sturdy enough so that I do find myself smiling and laughing at the right places. The most striking difference to my eyes is one I can understand; Kringle’s attack on the psychiatrist uses a different and gentler weapon than the one used in the original movie. Yet, when all is said and done, the movie suffers because it is a remake that doesn’t really have anything strong of its own to add to the mix, and the movie feels rather unnecessary. This is probably why this version has largely been forgotten while the original is still revived regularly.