Watch the full episode of EW Presents: The Top 10 Holiday Movie Moments, streaming now on People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the PEN app on Apple TV, Roku Players, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, iOS and Android devices.
Miracle on 34th Street is a timeless classic, so it’s easy to see how one iconic scene from the flick made No. 8 on EW’s list when some of our editors sat down for the EW Presents: The Top 10 Holiday Movie Moments special on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN).
As Kris Kringle himself points out, “Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.” And there’s no better movie for putting you in a holiday mindset than the 1947 hit. The film stars Hollywood icon Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwen as Kris Kringle, and is one of the most famous holiday films of all time.
“It’s the only film I’ve ever seen where Santa Claus won an Oscar,” says EW.com editor Christopher Rosen. “That’s a pretty great thing to have on the resume.”
The charming movie tells the tale of a man who believes he is the real Santa Claus and winds up taking a job as the Macy’s store Santa, where he meets a young girl who’s skeptical about Santa being a real thing. She even pulls his beard, believing it to be a fake. Undeterred, Kris Kringle sticks to his story and spreads the word that he’s the genuine Santa. Believed to be crazy by the general public, he soon ends up institutionalized and is forced to defend his story in court.
“The film culminates in this sort of amazing courtroom scene,” explains Amy Wilkinson, Entertainment Weekly senior editor. “Twenty-something bags of mail to Santa are delivered to the court room.”
It’s a genius argument really: Santa is receiving mail addressed to Santa because he’s the real deal. In the end, the court can’t help but recognize Kringle as Santa since the post office — a branch of the U.S. government — has identified him as such.
“It’s a really emotional, powerful moment for a holiday movie like this,” says Rosen. “To see Santa Claus proven as real? It’s a great scene.”
Adds Shirley Li, Entertainment Weekly correspondent, “The scene is timeless because who doesn’t love a happy ending, and it’s even better because it’s a happy ending for Santa himself, who has had to fight through this entire movie to prove he is Santa Claus.”
“Everyone wants to see their childhood continue,” concludes Rosen. “The film allows us to believe… and have a happy ending where yes, Santa is real and the world is a nice place.”