AMC Unwraps an Early Christmas Gift When it Presents “Miracle On 34th Street” and “Backstory” on Thanksgiving Day

JERICHO, N.Y., October 26, 2001- It was a miracle of marketing, of casting and of timing. A yuletide tale that opened in June, it was an unexpected success that became an Academy Award® winner. MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET was both endearing and enduring, a message of hope and faith wrapped in sparkling performances and an enchanting script.

On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22, AMC presents the beloved holiday film in its entirety at 8:00 PM ET, followed by a special episode of BACKSTORY: MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET at 9:45 PM.

BACKSTORY: MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET reveals how the movie that 20th Century Fox thought would be a trifling stocking stuffer became one of the greatest Christmas films ever made. Candid interviews with stars Maureen O'Hara, Alvin Greenman and Robert Hyatt, actress Natalie Wood's sister Lana Wood, film historian Rudy Behlmer and Wood biographer Suzanne Finstad, along with behind-the-scenes footage, film clips and the film's original theatrical trailer illuminate the story behind the story of this timeless holiday favorite.

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) was inspired by a frustrating Christmas Eve shopping trip through a Los Angeles department store in 1944. Screenwriter Valentine Davies, searching for a gift for his wife, wondered what Santa Claus would think of the rampant commercialism that marked the Christmas season. He took his idea to director George Seaton, and together they developed a script about how a jolly old man convinces all of New York that he's Santa, and a sophisticated, cynical little girl and her no-nonsense single mom learn that "faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to."

At the center of the film's success is a perfectly matched cast whose joy in making the film shines through onscreen. British character actor Edmund Gwenn was so convincing as Kris Kringle that young Natalie Wood believed he truly was Santa Claus, according to BACKSTORY: MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET.

Seaton took a big risk with the plot of the film. BACKSTORY: MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET explains that to use references to the R.H. Macy & Co. and Gimbel Bros. department stores, including a storyline about their rivalry, he had to give store executives approval of the final cut. He had shot the opening scenes on location in the midst of the actual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in 1946, and filmed additional scenes inside Macy's at Herald Square. If either mogul objected to any part of the film, he would have to rewrite and re-shoot those and other key scenes. Fortunately, each one gave Seaton their O.K.

Studio head Darryl Zanuck was eager to release the film right away to capitalize on the larger summertime film audiences. But the studio had no idea how to promote a holiday film in the heat of summer. BACKSTORY: MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET features their innovative solution