The American Film Institute has named Miracle on 34th Street number 9 on its list of most inspiring films, and the number 5 fantasy film. Uploaded by katiethoughts.wordpress.com.
Does Santa Claus really exist? Edmund Gwenn has made believers out of generations of movie lovers thanks to his performance as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street. This film, which also starred Maureen O’Hara and a very young Natalie Wood, is in the pantheon of Christmas classics that are a must-see every Christmas season. For me, the other movies in that category are Scrooge (the musical with Albert Finney), It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and White Christmas.
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20th Century-Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck was not enthusiastic about making this movie. It seemed just too corny for him. Director George Seaton eventually won him over, but only after agreeing to direct the next three films of Zanuck’s choosing. Zanuck also believed that the largest audience for movies is in the summer, so in spite of Miracle on 34th Street’s content, he dictated that it be released in May. The studio’s marketing department had to promote the movie without letting on that it took place at Christmas. Watch the trailer below to see how they accomplished this.
Miracle on 34th Street won four Academy Awards, losing out for Best Picture to Gentleman’s Agreement. The American Film Institute ranked it number nine in its list of inspiring movies, and as the number five fantasy movie of all time.
The Waltons was slotted opposite the popular series The Flip Wilson Show and The Mod Squad. It blew them both away. Uploaded by readthehook.com.
What was rural life like in Virginia during the Depression? It probably wasn’t as sweet as The Waltons, but we can hope. It was a simpler age, but an age when life was lived from day to day. And The Waltons showed us the importance of family in surviving the most difficult times.
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The series was created by Earl Hamner, based on his book Spencer’s Mountain, and was based on his own childhood memories of growing up not far from Charlottesville, Virginia. You may not remember, but there was a Spencer’s Mountain movie first, and Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara were the original Walton parents.
The TV show ran for nine seasons on CBS from 1972-81. It debuted against strong competition – The Flip Wilson Show and The Mod Squad. Wilson’s program was number one the previous two years, and it looked like The Waltons had been given a doomed time slot. But the show blasted the others, leading to the cancellation of The Mod Squad and causing Flip Wilson to pull the plug on his own show.
Lots of elements of the show resonated with a modern audience. Ike Godsy’s general store… the banter between loving but still irascible grandparents… the Baldwin sisters’ “recipe”… the approach of World War II. And, of course, “Good night, Mary Ellen.” “Good night, Ben.” “Good night, John Boy.”
Copyright 2009-2011, Robin G. Chalkley. All material on these pages, and the listing of items as Great American Things, is copyrighted. The exceptions are the photographs and videos, which remain the property of their respective owners.
Header photo used courtesy of Flickr photographer too melo.