- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English Mono (Dolby 2.0); French Mono (Dolby 2.0) Spanish Mono (Dolby 2.0)
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- Region: A
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Release Date: October 6, 2009
- List Price: $34.99 [amazon-product align=”right”]B0029XFNA8[/amazon-product]
BestBuy.com: Purchase Miracle on 34th Street (1947) on Blu-ray from CD Universe Shop with us for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.comOverall The Film Video Quality Audio Quality Supplemental Materials
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Something just about all holiday films have in common is the necessity to suspend all disbelief and simply revel in the joy and glee of the holiday spirit. Very few holiday films come along that have the ability to do so without becoming so overly sentimental and saccharine that they merely lapse into the realm of the ridiculous. Thus, the term “holiday classic,” is one that is not endowed very often, but when it is, it means that a film has come along that has most likely transcended its genre, the trappings of its holiday to become an enduring and endearing bit of filmmaking history.
One such film is 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street. The film was amazingly not even released during the holiday season in 1947, but instead saw a summer release from 20th Century Fox who had no idea how to market a “Santa Claus” film and was looking to maximize their profits on the endeavor during the highest box office grossing period. With a stealth-marketing plan that never mentioned the film’s holiday trappings, Miracle on 34th Street released to wide acclaim and would run for six months, right through the holiday season.
With a story that out Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) on trial to prove that he was indeed Santa and starring a young Natalie Wood as the young Susan Walker, a girl with a great lack of imagination and a disbelief in Santa Claus, Miracle on 34th Street instantly became that ever-elusive “holiday classic.”
Strong, even if sentimental, performances by Maureen O’Hara as Doris Walker, little Susan’s strong-willed, modern-day, working woman with a determination to keep her daughter from dawdling on fantasies and John Payne as Fred Gailey, Doris’ love interest and Santa’s lawyer mean the film is solid straight through. But there is no doubt that Edmund Gwenn as Santa is the star attraction, as he might have even the most hardened cynic believing he is actually Mr. Kringle.
Miracle on 34th Street has been remade three times over the years, but it is still this 1947 version that is the true classic. It is a fun, family affair that promises that maybe sometimes fantasies really can come true.
I was apprehensive when I received my copy of Miracle on 34th Street to review that it was actually the colorized version contained on the disc. The cover art would certainly lead one to believe to be so, but thankfully, it is not that colorized version made for television that appears here on Blu-ray. To my amazement, looking around, there seems to be a bit of controversy over this. Why in the world anyone would actually want a classic film ruined with an artificial process, particularly on a format like Blu-ray, which can offer the truest form for film of any home video format to date is beyond my comprehension?
But, I digress; Miracle on 34th Street is provided by 20th Century Fox in its original black and white, 1.33:1 theatrical aspect ratio in a 1080p/24 AVC/MPEG-4 high definition encoding. Contrast is superb, blacks are quite solid, only occasionally washing out, and detail is relatively strong given the film’s age and filming methods. There are some occasional specks and scratches apparent, but they are quite reserved and overall Miracle on 34th Street looks very good for its age.
The film has been given the lossless treatment and has had its soundtrack spruced up a bit with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. It doesn’t offer much more than some low-level ambience in the surround channels, so listeners shouldn’t expect anything grand or aggressively discrete. The dialogue is crisp and clear in the DTS-HD MA mix, with a nice wide soundstage and good dynamic range with hardly any signs of crackle or other age damage. Thankfully, Fox has also provided the original monaural soundtrack in a Dolby 2.0 configuration. This mix does sound a little muffled in comparison to the DTS-HD MA version, but it is certainly the more authentic choice.
There are a few interesting supplements on this release all ported over in standard definition from the DVD, but the real highlight is actress Maureen O’Hara’s audio commentary filled with tidbits on the film’s production, her career in Hollywood, and her childhood in Ireland.
The supplements available on this release are:
- Commentary by Maureen O’Hara
- AMC Backstory: Miracle on 34th Street (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0.22.06) — A short documentary on the history of Miracle on 34th Street from US cable network AMC.
- Fox Movietonews: Hollywood Spotlight (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:01.46) — This archival newsreel shows the 1948 Academy Award ceremonies and Miracle on 34th Street’s Edmund Gwenn winning his award for Best Supporting Actor.
- Promotional Short (1.33:1; 0:05.08) — The original promotional trailer for Miracle on 34th Street.
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Floating in History (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:15.32)
- Poster Gallery (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
The Definitive Word
Fox has treated this classic with respect by providing this film in its original black and white incarnation, as it should be seen. Heading into the holiday season, I have no doubt there are many families out there who will want this film for viewing and they can’t go wrong with this new high definition Blu-ray edition.