I fell in love with Natalie Wood the first time I saw this old black and white movie. One of my favorite scenes is when she is teaching Santa (Edmund Gwenn) how to blow bubbles with her chewing gum and it explodes in his beard. Another is when Santa is teaching her about imagination while demonstrating how to behave like a monkey.
The movie which premiered in 1947 ,was based on a story by Valentine Davies and went on to win Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Gwenn), Best Original Story and Best Screenplay (Davies). It was nominated for Best Picture but didn’t win.
Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade was a yearly ritual in our family and was an intoxicating mix of the smells of turkey roasting and pies baking, with the lure of Christmas literally around the corner. I grew up at a time when Thanksgiving was the gatekeeper for the Christmas holidays. The day after Thanksgiving meant that Christmas was officially on it’s way. Stores exploded with decorations and cities put up all their lights. Tree lots sprung up over night and Santa Claus became a beacon of hope for millions of children all over the world. It was truly magical. This story begins around the parade, Susan Walker’s (Natalie Wood) mom (Maureen O’Hara) works for Macy’s and helps with the parade.
I loved this 1947 version because it captured the diversity and universal spirit that Santa Claus represents. He isn’t just about presents, but is the symbol of international good will. When he speaks Dutch to the war orphaned, little girl sitting on his lap,and then sings a song with her in Dutch, you realize this isn’t just about retail consumption. A mesmerized Susan looks on. She realizes everything her mother has told her about Santa Claus being a myth, might not be true
I love Thelma Ritter (she’s a hoot) as the exhausted mom who decides to set Santa straight (when he tells her little boy he will get what he has asked for) when she knows there isn’t one to be had anywhere she has looked. She thanks the Macy’s manager for the wonderful “stunt” they are pulling in sending customers to other stores if you don’t have it, starting a new trend in shopping.
I had a simple Thanksgiving feast with my son today at the home of a long time friend. There is nothing better than great food and good friends, AND the kick off of my holiday movies. Tomorrow’s movie is a surprise. See you then. Happy Thanksgiving friends!