Classic Cinema: Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – By Jason S. Lockard

Born Edmund John Kellaway in Wandsworth, London, He began his acting career in the theatre in 1895 playing brash comic roles. In 1901 he married Minnie Terry, niece of the famous actress Ellen Terry.

After a failed production of Ben Hur the couple the couple appeared on stage together in London in a farce called What the Butler Saw in 1905. Over the years Gwenn would perform in many stage plays. When World War I broke out his career was interrupted by his military service, serving as an officer in the British Army. During the war their marriage broke apart and than devoiced, though they remained on good terms.

Gwenn began his film career in 1916 and appeared in more than eighty films included such films as; Pride and Prejudice, Of Human Bondage, Foreign Correspondent, The trouble with Harry and Our film for this month Miracle on 34th Street.

When a nice old man with a beard (Gwenn) claims he is the true Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane. Now it is up to a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the one and only Santa Claus. This film also starred John Payen, Maureen O’Hara, William Frawley and Natalie Wood. It is a beautifully magical little film that will have you believing there is a Santa again.

At the age of 78 he traveled from his home in California to London to visit his now widowed ex-wife. He proclaimed the reason he never married again was “because I was very happy with my wife. I simply stayed faithful to the memory of that happiness.”

On September 6th 1959 twenty days before his 82nd birthday Gwenn died from pneumonia after suffering a stroke. He was cremated and his ashes stored in the vault at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles. During his career Gwenn won an Academy Award and 2 Golden Globes and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

So if you’ve never seen Edmund Gwenn in a film, I highly suggest this one! So as always this is Jason S. Lockard reminding you if you want to see a good film check out a classic.

Moral Rating: Nothing offensive
Audience: families
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Length: 96 Minutes
Released: 1947
Rating: A