A 1989 addition to the Lampoon series, the best of which was the first — 1983's "National Lampoon's Vacation" — the Christmas version was written by none other than the late John Hughes. And it was directed by the estimable Jeremiah Chechik, best known to Spokane movie fans as the man who directed "Benny & Joon."
It stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, who reprise their roles as the married Clark and Ellen, with Juliette Lewis and a virtually unrecognizable Johnny Galecki taking over the roles of their children, Audrey and Rusty.
And if that isn't enough holiday fun for you, the two Regal theaters will screen "Elf." on Dec. 16.
Along with Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," Bob Clark's "A Christmas Story" and the various productions of "A Christmas Carol," "Miracle on 34th Street" gets trotted out every holiday season. And why not? There is something magical about Edmund Gwenn, playing a man who calls himself Kris Kringle, who gets hired as a Macy's Santa but then must defend himself in court because he keeps claiming that … well, that he is the real Santa.
Besides Gwenn, look for the always dependable Maureen O'Hara and a 9-year-old Natalie Wood. Interesting side note: The film was originally released in May because 20th Century Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck thought that, according to Wikipedia, "more people went to the movies in the summer."
Whatever the truth of that at the time (Zanuck would eventually be proven true), the first reviews were mostly good — and have remained so over time:
Bosley Crowther, the New York Times: "(L)et's catch its spirit and heartily proclaim that it is the freshest little picture in a long time, and maybe even the best comedy of this year."
TV Guide: "(Edmund) Gwenn won an Oscar for his role, and for many, his charming, endearing performance has been identified with the spirit of the Christmas season ever since the completion of this sentimental production."
Kate Cameron, New York Daily News: "It is light, it is charming, it is delightfully funny and completely captivating. It is all that, and something more. It has an undefinable spiritual quality that raises the spirits of the beholder into a happy, hopeful mood."
Anyway, seeing such a movie classic is a good way to start off the holiday season. Then you can resume shopping.
Below: Check out the trailer for the original 1947 version of "Miracle on 34th Street."