“This is quite an opportunity!” Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) tells Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) when she offers him a job “playing” Santa in MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947).
The same might be said for Turner Classic Movies, which has announced a full day of screenings of the Christmas classic outside the iconic department store in which it’s set – Macy’s Herald Square in New York City. On Thursday, November 20th, TCM will present MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET seven times, with on-air host Robert Osborne introducing the
6:15 p.m. 6:00 p.m. screening live. (No word yet on whether he’ll arrive by sleigh.)
MIRACLE ON 34th STREET will screen at 8:15 a.m, 10:00 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. in beautiful black-and-white on a large LED screen outside in Herald Square Plaza on Broadway between 34th and 35th streets. (This is the area in which Macy’s stages musical numbers for their annual Thanksgiving Day parade.) Limited seating will be available to the public, but fans are permitted to bring chairs of their own to insure seating (just not this one). Macy’s is accessible via the B/D/F/M/Q/R and PATH trains to 34th Street and 6th Avenue, or the 1/2/3/A/C/E, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit to Penn Station at 34th and 7th Avenue.
In addition to Osborne’s appearance, the
6:15 p.m. 6:00 p.m. showing will kick off with “a special holiday greeting on behalf of TCM and Macy’s” and an appearance by Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (essentially the job Maureen O’Hara’s character had in the film). And all screenings are FREE.
So what exactly is the “opportunity” here for TCM?
The network does not currently control broadcast rights to MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, so this day-long marathon is the only chance to connect the TCM brand with one of the best-known Holiday films of all time. For reasons that are beyond my comprehension, viewers who avoid older films like sour egg nog most of the year often rediscover a select few during the Christmas season. Films that benefit from this – IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) on NBC, WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954) on AMC, A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) on TBS – tend to become viewing traditions for families, and can help to introduce new fans to the classics.
And what better way to initiate an old-movie-weirdo-in-training than by watching a great old movie with other fans (weird or otherwise)? Whether it’s at an historic theater in Hollywood as part of TCM’s annual Classic Film Festival, or outside Macy’s during the Holidays, this is one of the things TCM does best: creating live experiences that transcend the television.
“It’s our mission to share the greatest movies of all time with new audiences,” newly minted TCM general manager Jennifer Dorian said in a statement. “And this is a treat for the whole family.”
Best of all: the forecast calls for unseasonably mild temperatures on November 20. That truly is a Christmas miracle.
Here are my Instagram shots from the 1:30 p.m. screening:
Watch my video of Robert Osborne’s introduction to the evening screening here.