Despite having been made into three TV movies, a radio drama, a stage play, a Broadway musical, a feature-film remake in color, and a book adaptation, the 1947 black-and-white film of Miracle on 34thStreet still remains the favorite version of this modern Christmas classic. The American public seems to echo what Macy’s stated when declining to participate in the 1994 remake: “We felt there was nothing to be improved upon.” In many ways, it is a perfect film in the sense that there really is nothing that could have been done better: the story, the casting, the acting were all spot-on. The decade from 1941–1951 saw a bumper crop of classic Christmas including Christmas inConnecticut, Holiday Inn, and It’s a Wonderful Life, but with the exception of the latter film none have had the staying power of Miracle on 34th Street. This book describes the origins of the story, the casting and production of the film, its marketing and publicity, and even how it elevated the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from a local New York event to a national celebration. Finally, it looks at the film’s legacy, including its high ranking among best Christmas movies of all time as well as its placement as ninth overall on the American Film Institute’s list of the most inspiring films.
Jeff Thompson worked as an archivist at Twentieth Century Fox from 2005–2016. During that time, he worked on hundreds of DVD/Blu-ray releases, including Miracle on 34th Street, and he took the opportunity to learn as much about this film as he could from the studio archives. Having worked at a major motion picture studio, he comes with the insider’s knowledge of how films are made and can provide a unique perspective. He was also a coauthor on the studio’s official corporate history Twentieth Century Fox: A Century of Entertainment (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017) and has an extensive knowledge of the studio’s history and the context of this film.