Written by: George Seaton (1947); Valentine Davies, George Seaton, John Hughes (1994)
Directed by: George Seaton (1947); Les Mayfield (1994)
Released: May 2, 1947; November 18, 1994
Summary: When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing. All the while bringing the Christmas spirit to an entire city.
This is one of the Christmas movies that I watch every year. In fact, I own copies of both versions (hence the double review). I don’t think that I would be able to choose just one of them anyways; they’re both favourites.
Between these two, it really makes it feel like Christmas. I mean, a story about Santa going to court because people think that he’s crazy for believing he’s Santa is just a fantastic concept if you stop and think about it. Aside from the actual St. Nicholas, to have a man in modern society going around and verbally making it known that he believes himself to be Santa is something that would instantly make people presume that he’s insane. I know I would. But this movie (from either year) makes it seem as though it would be completely possible to have happen and to have to judicial system believe in him as well. Not to mention an entire metropolis like New York City.
In fact, I met a man like Kris Kringle a few months ago while standing in line at the movie theatre. He was whistling Christmas songs – in November – and he looked like he could have been Santa. No joke.
But I digress.
There are several differences with these two versions. For example, I only noticed the other night that the remake doesn’t have the scene in the court room with all the Santa letters being brought in as evidence. No, that’s only in the original. And in the original it’s the Macy’s department store while in the remake it’s Coles. There are a bunch of other little things too, but the fact is that the underlying story and feeling throughout the movie remains the same.
These are two great movies to share with younger kids who still believe in Santa or ones who are just on the cusp of ending their belief. Plus, it’s a great family movie for the holidays. I give them both a 10/10.