Some time ago, I wrote about my reaction to Entertainment Weekly’s Top 100 Books, focusing on genre titles. Today I write about just one genre title, “Miracle on 34th Street,” because the Huffington Post just posited “Ten Reasons by the ‘Miracle on 34th Street Remake is Better Than the Original.” Needless to say, the article is utterly wrong.
I’m not going to discuss each of their ten points, because more than half of the reasons given in favor of the remake have no parallel in the original (e.g., the use of TV stars when there was no TV to speak of in 1947, not that using TV stars is any mark of quality. In fact, the author seems way too enamored of TV for my taste.). But if we concentrate on the remaining four…
“Elizabeth Perkins Puts Christmas Displays To Shame With Her Glow And Beauty.” Ms. Perkins is a lovely woman. But the original featured Maureen O’Hara. Elizabeth Perkins does not compare to Maureen O’Hara. No woman compares to Maureen O’Hara (except for Myrna Loy).
“It Stars Your Favorite Child Actor Of The ’90s,” i.e., Mara Wilson. Again, with no disrespect to Ms. Wilson (I loved “Mrs. Doubtfire,” too, and we share the same birthday), the original featured Natalie Wood. Hello? Ms. Wood was one of the great actresses of the 20th century, and and while Mara Wilson may have been somebody’s favorite child actor of the 90s, she hasn’t exactly been burning up the screen since.
“Reindeer Are Brought Into The Courtroom As Evidence That Santa Exists.” Really? The “Post Office Department of the United States” wasn’t good enough? Maybe if you wanted to be more contemporary you should have brought in a FedEx guy. Sorry, using the reindeer was cliched and lame.
“Nothing Says “Merry Christmas” Like A Good Ugly Cry.” They replaced the war orphan in the original with a hearing-impaired girl. Fair enough. It’s not like we still have war orphans, right? This way your feel-good fable about peace on Earth doesn’t have to deal with the lack of peace on Earth. Good call.
(At least there was no asserting that the new version was better because it was in color.)
I saw the 1947 “Miracle” a few days ago, up close and personal on the big screen. The acting, particularly from Ms. Wood, is impeccable. The climax had the audience in tears. Some movies should not be remade; they don’t need it.