Edmund Gwenn dressed as Santa Claus in a scene from the film 'Miracle On 34th Street', 1947. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Miracle On 34th Street Took A Legal Gamble That Ended Up Paying Off
In Spades
The 1947 holiday classic, “Miracle on 34th Street,” sees a man claiming to be Santa defend his improbable identity in a court of law while also bringing a little Christmas cheer. The film’s criticisms of capitalism and its adverse effects on the holiday spirit remain relevant today. Ironically, some of those businesses that benefit from Christmas shopping almost stopped the movie’s production.
“Miracle on 34th Street” heavily features the department store giants and fierce rivals during the 1900s, Macy’s and Gimbles. Many creative works often use characters or institutions to represent reality because depicting actual people or entities in fiction comes with many legal issues, requiring some careful maneuvering to avoid slander and defamation claims, even if what is said is factual.
The film immediately needed to tiptoe around these retail giants; a task made difficult as the story revolves around a family deprived of the Christmas spirit, thanks to capitalist stooges. Neither company saw the film until it was finished, a gamble that could have set the movie back or even canceled it if either company was dissatisfied. The risk paid off as both companies approved of the film.