In My Backyard - Issue #6 - Red-Breasted Nuthatch

 With a quick flutter it lands on the fence, its every move sharp and yet as delicate as a ballerina on pointe. The Red-breasted Nuthatch wears a Zorro mask to hide its a identity and a slate-grey cape to mute its rust-colored body so as not to attract attention. What it looks like without its disguise, no one knows. The female wears a slightly dulled cap instead of the males deep black and has a paler underside, but is no less stealthy. And, oh yes, stealth is the name of the game!

Female Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Welcome to this months issue of In My Backyard. As you can see, I am whiddling on the name, trying to get it satisfactory, and on what exactly I cover in these monthly posts. I said before that I haven't had to struggle with finding an animal or organism of some sort to write about. Well, in these lean winter months, I have had to eat my words. The last issue was a bit of a stretch since I never exactly saw any mistletoe that month, but it was exciting to read and write about. I also wasn't sure I should write about the Red-breasted Nuthatch this month since I only a couple of months ago wrote about the Downy Woodpecker. I didn't want these posts to appear mostly bird oriented, not that that would be bad. But my Mum and sister encouraged me to not worry about it and go ahead. So I did. And here it is:

The Red-Breasted Nuthatch is an amazing creature that can move up or down the trunks of trees with ease, but unlike the woodpecker with this ability, it does not use its tail as a brace. Instead its feet and legs have all the muscle necessary.

It's Latin name is Sitta Canadensis and it is only about 4 1/2 inches, considerably smaller than the White-Breasted Nuthatch. When preparing the nest cavity the Red-breasted Nuthatch becomes aggressive and is known to chase away other birds like the before mentioned White-breasted Nuthatch, the House Wren, and the Downy Woodpecker (for more on the Downy Woodpecker, see here). Especially feisty nuthatches will go after even more species than that.

When the nest is ready the Nuthatch will lay between 5-8 whitish, red-brown speckled eggs. After 11-13 days of incubation by both parents, the eggs are then ready to hatch. Another 19-22 days and the juveniles are ready to take off on their own.

The Nuthatch, as well as the House Wren, are such fast little birds compared to the movements of, say, the Robin or Cardinal. At first I thought the Nuthatch was another species of Wren until I looked them up and realized that, although they have similarities, they are two different species. The House Wren is brown and speckled with a pointy beak and a streamlined body. I dubbed them "fence-hoppers" since they are so adept at maneuvering through the wooden slats of our fence. So adorable!

Though I don't see the Nuthatch hopping through the slats in our fence, it makes quick flights to our feeder, grabs a couple bites, and in an instant is off again. Where we live we first get them in early to late fall and they stay all winter. I love sitting at the table in our kitchen and watching the birds on our feeder through the sliding-glass door. At the moment, and other than the Nuthatches, we have many Sparrows, some Chicadees, a few Cardinals, doves, and a random Mockingbird. The Sparrows look a lot like the Eurasion Tree Sparrow but those are said to be rarely in this area. Their lines and colors are more intense than the House Sparrows though, so I am not sure.

I first saw the Nuthatch while eating lunch with my family. I was aimlessly staring at the feeder when it skittered up and landed with the Sparrows on the feeder. As a confirmed bird-watcher, I quickly pointed out the unexpected visitor to my family. But not being as "bird crazy" as myself, they took too long to look and the Nuthatch flew away before they could see it. After that it was a joke. No one ever sees the birds Amy does on the feeder. I was seeing things. Yada- yada. That's how jokes go in my family, and I suspect other families. You gotta have lighthearted picking, right? It also includes "boyfriend/girlfriend" jokes, but that's another subject.

After pointing it out every time a Nuthatch landed on the feeder, pretty much everyone has seen them at one point or another. Yep. I do my job.

Here's an extra random fact about the Nuthatch. After making the nest cavity, the male nuthatch collects resin from the conifer trees they frequent and rubs it around the outside of the hole while his "wife" puts it on the inside. It is said this keeps away predators but I have a feeling its for more than that. I don't know what though. The nuthatches themselves fly through the hole swiftly so as to avoid the resin.

In conclusion, I believe keeping a watchful eye on the nature around us makes us more grateful and appreciative of the things God has given us. Were we not given this earth to take care of? Besides I was raised in a nature loving home, where long, quiet walks in the woods were coveted and moments of rare meetings with animals are savoured. I realize not everyone feels this way, but I don't believe its because of their nature. No, I believe even the most nature hostile person could eventually learn to appreciate God's gift. Its how you see things, a blessing or a curse. You can see a blessing in everything if you just look.

So thanks for joining me for the sixth issue of In My Backyard. As always, I hope you enjoyed reading it and feel free to tell me what you think in the comments below.

Happy New Year!

Classic Christmas Movie Review #4 - Holiday Inn

Welcome to the fourth of my Christmas movie reviews: Holiday Inn. Made in 1942, Holiday Inn is a musical about a performer, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), who becomes tired of his job and wants to take it easy on a farm. It also stars Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, and Virginia Dale. Featuring songs from Irving Berlin, such as White Christmas; Easter Parade; Be Careful, It's My heart; and many others.

As part of a dancing and singing trio, Jim Hardy's desire is to leave show business and relax "like everyone else". His partner, Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale), has agreed to marry him and the two are almost set for a life on a farm in Connecticut. But unfortunately for Jim, Lila doesn't want to leave show business. In fact, she's not even sure she loves Jim. Ted (Fred Astaire) tells Jim that the two of them, him and Lila, belong together, "dedicating their lives to making people happy with their feet".

Despite the news, Jim leaves for Connecticut anyway. He starts his farm and works it. But it isn't long before he realizes farming isn't what he thought it was. While resting up in a Sanitarium, he cooks up an idea to turn the lodge into an inn, "but what an Inn!" Performances only on the holidays leaves him most of the year to kick around in. So he heads back to his old friends to find some talent and tell them his idea.

His first, and only, audition is with an ambitious singer/dancer named Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds). The two hit it off well and before long Jim Hardy's dream idea becomes a reality.

New Year's Eve arrives and Holiday Inn is open for business. The Inn is packed and everyone is ready to bring in the new year, everyone, that is, except Jim's former dancing partner, Ted Hanover. He receives a telegram from Lila telling him that she has left to marry a Texan with millions. On a binge, he sets out for Connecticut and his dear friend Jim.

He meets Linda and while in a drunken stupor, dances a routine with her leaving everyone to think she's his new partner. Having already "proposed" to Linda, and envisioning another "Lila" instance, Jim rushes Linda home before Danny Reed, Ted's agent, is able to see her.

Another holiday passes but Jim manages to keep Linda from Ted and Danny by doing a black face number. Ted and Danny are only the more insistent on finding the "elusive" dancing partner and Jim is afraid he can't keep Linda from them for long.

Only working at the Inn on holidays, Linda arrives for Valentine's Day. During the rehearsal of Jim's latest song, a song he wrote just for her, Ted and Danny appear, discover Linda, and realize Jim has known about her all along. They offer her the job of being the famous Ted Hanover's dancing partner, to which Linda gladly accepts, but having made the commitment to play in all of Jim's shows for the rest of the year, refuses to leave the Inn.

The next holiday has come and it's the birthday of George Washington. No longer center stage and sore over having lost once again to Ted, Jim throws a few twists into the routine. Afterward, Ted hears from Linda of the two's engagement and prepares to bow out until Jim acts surprised, having considered it hopeful but not set in stone. Ted thinks that if a man doesn't know he's engaged, he can go ahead with his plans "with a clear conscience".

His plan materializes on Easter Sunday when he shows up at the Inn declaring he wants to spend lifes simple pleasures with them at the Inn. Jim knows something is up Ted's sleeve but he can't do anything. Skeptical, but not nearly as much as Jim, Linda accepts Ted back and the two prepare for the next holiday performance, the fourth of July.

Meanwhile, Jim overhears Ted and Danny discussing bringing in Hollywood producers to see Ted and Linda dance. Fearing this will be the one thing that will take Linda away from him, he plots to keep Linda from getting to the Inn by having his driver stall when picking her up at the train station. Gus, the driver, chooses to drive into a river.

Soaked to the skin, Linda hails an oncoming car to give her a lift to the Inn. She comes to find out the driver of the car is none other than Lila Dixon. Lila claims that Jim called her to come dance with Ted that night for the Hollywood directors.

By the time she arrives the show is over and Linda confronts Jim. She accuses him of selfishness and Jim sees that his plans didn't work out like he had hoped.

The men from Hollywood, on the otherhand, prove to be more interested in the Inn than the dancing partners. They offer to buy the idea from Jim, with Ted and Linda thrown in. At first reluctant, Jim finally caves and throws his hopes away with it.

Its off to Hollywood with Ted and Linda. Becoming the dancing team of the public, its not long before they announce their engagement.

Jim once again is faced with losing another girl to his pal, Ted. Thanksgiving Day finds him back where he started, sulking and alone. His maid, Mamie, gives him a piece of her mind, telling him all he needs to do is go up there and tell Linda he loves her. At first Jim just pushes her words aside until he remembers what Ted did despite their being engaged.

When Jim arrives in good spirits, Ted and Danny's suspicions are aroused. In light of the quarreling going on between the two former "partners" neither one trusts the other. Danny tricks Jim and locks him in Ted's double sided closet. Jim manages to slip out the other door and lock the two in their room. Frantic now, Ted and Danny climb out the second story window of his dressing room but arrive too late to enter the set.

The set is a complete look alike to the Inn in Connecticut, which only makes Linda all the more homesick for Jim. During filming, she sits down at the piano to sing White Christmas. She stumbles over the words when she sees Jim's pipe on the top of the piano and runs into Jim's awaiting arms when he appears on the set the next moment.

Back at the Inn, Jim and Linda are finally together, while Ted gets another dancing partner in the form of Lila. The Inn is full and the new year bright.

My Opinion:

The idea for an inn that is only open on the holidays was created by Irving Berlin, I believe, and then the movie was written. Its a great idea, full of romance and excitement. Too bad it couldn't work today. I love the music the most. Irving Berlin wrote some definite hits, many of which also appear in his later movie also starring Bing Crosby, called White Christmas. Stick around, I'm hoping that one will be next on my list of reviews.

Because this is a movie I have watched every year for as long as I could remember, I grew up thinking Fred Astaire was a one of those actors typecast as a nasty person, always stealing other guys girls, making life tough on everyone else, that sort. But as I started watching other movies, especially the many he did with Ginger Rogers, I began to like him a lot more. This really is a funny role for him in that he is so selfish. In many other movies he's the one your rooting for.

Marjorie Reynolds as Linda Mason does very well but I can't help wishing every year that she wouldn't be so fooled by Ted's fame and stay instead with Jim. But that's not gonna happen. And it all works out anyway. So in a way I get what I want.

Well, thanks for reading my fourth review. As usual, I hope you liked it and would love to hear your thoughts. You can leave a comment, or email me at the address mentioned in my bio just above.

Merry Christmas!

Classic Christmas Movie Review #3 - A Christmas Carol

 Welcome! This is the 3rd installment in my Classic Christmas Movie Review. Today I will write about "A Christmas Carol". More than just a movie, A Christmas Carol must first be addressed as a book. But I will discuss the movies in a moment, so don't go away.

First published in December 1843, A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens at a time when he was losing popularity in public opinion. It was also becoming the machine age, when people were struggling for work and the winters were incredibly cold. In the midst of these hardships, Dickens wanted people to remember why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. And up from the imagination of this young author sprung one of the most inspiring and imitated stories of Christmas.

Most of us are very well acquainted with the story so I don't think a full synopsis is necessary. But in brief, Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly man who scorns all manner of human kindness and goodwill. Some of this obviously stems from past heartbreaks, of which Scrooge has let make him utterly bitter and resentful.

Because of his unfeeling attitude, he is sent the spirit of his former partner to make him come to his senses. From that visit, Scrooge entertains three more spirits, the Ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. They each show him the affects, directly and indirectly, he has on the people of London. At first Scrooge is unmoving, but as he sees the kindness of others, with much less luxury than he has himself, and further, the eventual end of himself, he begins to see just how important simple actions of kindness are in the world today. By the end of the book, the hard, cruel man from the beginning has become a caring, considerate, and totally reformed old man.

Its an amazing story that people love to hear again and again. Having been made into a number movies, and even audio dramas, the wonder and feeling of the original story is something we all long to have.

Now, like I said there are many versions of this story made into movies, but I will only address three.

Comparing the Versions: 

 1938 - With Reginald Owens in the part of Ebenezer Scrooge, this has to be one of the most heartfelt versions I have ever seen. Reginald Owens himself does a good job of portraying Scrooge as a grumpy old man, too busy and uncaring to bother with Christmas or relationships. But what I like the most about this version is the Cratchit family. Their joy at such simple pleasures manages to leave me feeling humble and grateful every year. Though they don't have much, they are so happy for what they do have: being able to prepare the meal together, eating it together, and telling stories by the fire. So insignificant but so special, just the same.

1951 - This version features Alastair Sim as the odious Scrooge.

Having grown up watching the previous version, we were a bit skeptical of this one at the first. Now, I must admit, Alastair Sim plays a better Scrooge in that he brings so much more to the character than just grumpiness. He is bitter and scarred, obviously hardened by life, but it is still of his own doing. Difficulties with his father, and losing his dear sister, are evident in his bitterness. He sees no reason to be kind to a world that has dealt him such a harsh blow.

Another plus to this film, though it is slightly less in its joyful atmosphere compared to the '38 version, there is more of Scrooge's life depicted. It gives more of a reason for his hatred, and I must say, it sticks to the book better than any other version I know.

On a side note, Alastair Sim's portrayal of Scrooge's transformation is hilarious. An old man jumping around, smiling and laughing like a school boy, scaring his maid half to death, is just too good to miss.

2009 - When Disney put out this animated verison of the beloved story, we were delighted. Another to add to our list, we thought. People told us it was the best version they had ever seen, and that it stuck to the book better than any other. Great! So we watched it.

Ghost of Christmas Present, 1938
I was horrified! I can't begin to tell you just how awful it was. The animation and voices themselves were well done, but the story, the way it was enacted, was absolutely wrong. In short, it was dark and creepy. I realize that the story naturally has elements that are meant to scare you as they scared Scrooge in light of the plot. But when you can only tell the difference between the jolly Ghost of Christmas present and the deathly Ghost of Christmas future by their dress, and not their manner, something is definitely wrong. They turned our dear Christmas Carol into a horror film! I still can't see how people can say it is so good. Evidently they haven't seen any other version, or if they have, then they must have never read the book. One last statement and I will move on. Dickens desired to make people realize, along with Scrooge, that Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus birth, a time to be together and reach out to others. Not scare them into it by threatening nightmarish torture if not.

I realize many will not agree with me. To each his own. This is just my opinion, and naturally I think it good because it is my opinion. So feel free to comment and tell me your opinion but keep in mind I am not trying to squash anyone elses.

 To return to a lighter note, I mentioned earlier having the story on audio drama. Focus on the Family has a department dedicated to audio dramas, or radio theatres. They have put out many, from Little Women, The Secret Garden, and Anne of Green Gables, to Ben-Hur, Les Miserables, and Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom. They have also done our favorites series by C.S. Lewis, the Chronicles of Narnia. All theatres are done with expert voices and excellent skill. Some feature the talents of well-known actors, like John Rhys-Davies and Andy Serkis. For Andy Serkis, see The Screwtape Letters.

Every Christmas we turn on the radio theatre of A Christmas Carol and listen while we paint, work a puzzle, or travel. Its definitely a part of our Christmas celebrations.

We have a lot of Christmas traditions, and since the holiday in question is only a few days away I don't think I will be able to write about them. Only so much time in a day. Also, even though I only have three possible days to blog, I am going to TRY to post two more reviews. It's a Wonderful Life will not be posted till after Christmas. Once again, I will give the reason for why I have chosen to do that in the review.

Thanks for reading. I hope you liked it and will come back to read more. So until next time...

Merry Christmas!

Classic Christmas Movie Review #2 - Christmas in Connecticut

Welcome to the 2nd Classic Christmas Movie Review: Christmas in Connecticut. Made in 1945, it is the story of a woman who knows how to write a good magazine feature but doesn't know how to deal with the consequences. Starring Barbara Stanwycke as Elizabeth Lane, Dennis Morgan as Jefferson Jones, Sydney Greenstreet as Mr. Yardley, and S.Z. Sakall as Felix Bassenak.

Elizabeth Lane is a woman who has it all, a husband, a baby, a farm in Connecticut, an excellent talent with food, of which she writes in detail as a feature in a housekeeping magazine under the Yardley Publishing Company. The American public adores her every word, women for her knowledge and tips on success, men for her wonderful cooking and interesting articles. What they don't know though, is the truth.

In reality, she lives in an apartment in New York, is not married, and, worst of all, she cannot cook. But she sells magazines, and makes Mr. Yardley happy.

Unfortunately, trouble comes in the form of a sailor. The sailor himself is not a problem, as Elizabeth soon finds out, but what Mr. Yardley asks concerning him is. The sailor and fellow seaman had been stuck on a raft for days with no food, and now that he is recovering in the hospital, the nurse contacts Mr. Yardley to see if he can organize a good home experience over the Christmas holiday to brighten his thoughts toward the two of them settling down together.

With the help of her editor and boyfriend/fiance, Elizabeth Lane manages to obtain a "husband, farm, and a baby" in time to have the sailor stay with them for Christmas. To make matters more difficult, Mr. Yardley himself decides to spend the holiday with them.

Its Christmas Eve and Elizabeth is preparing to marry her fiance, John Sloan, an architect, when the sailor, Jefferson Jones, arrives sooner than expected. With a mad dash, they hide the good-natured judge, and welcome their guest.

Jeff, preparing to meet an older woman he believes to be Elizabeth Lane, is dumbfounded when he sees Barbara Stanwycke meet him at the door. And he is not alone in his impressions. Elizabeth herself realizes Jeff is more attractive than she expected and both are taken with each other. But the fact that she is "married", at least in his eyes, begins to present problems to what Elizabeth wishes would become a beautiful relationship.

A stark contrast is made between her controlling and slightly self-consumed fiance and kind, unobtrusive Jefferson Jones. She finds his charms hard to ignore. But the eagle eye of Mr. Yardley is always present, to her chagrin.

Meanwhile, with her "uncle" Felix assisting her in the kitchen, everything seems to be going well. That is until Mr. Yardley insists, as only he can do, on seeing the famed housewife flip a flapjack for breakfast. Felix schools her beforehand with no success, but I won't ruin it by telling you how it turns out. You'll have to see it for yourself.

Christmas Day arrives and with it an invitation to a dance. The evening is going swimmingly until Elizabeth realizes Jeff will be going home the next day. Walking about in the snow, they board a sleigh that doesn't belong to them just to keep their feet from getting cold. The horse takes off, to their surprise, but being too content in each others company, they delay in returning to the dance. When they are picked up by the police for stealing the sleigh, the two find it amusing but little does Elizabeth know that Yardley, her boss, has seen them leaving and now suspects her of unfaithfulness.

Following the suspicious disappearance of Elizabeth and Jeff, Yardley comes back to the farm to discover the baby being kidnapped. Uncle Felix tries to explain that the baby actually belongs to the woman doing the kidnapping, but Yardley won't listen to anyone. Before long the house is surrounded by police and reporters, but Elizabeth is still not home.

Jeff and Elizabeth are released when the cops realize who they are but by then its already morning. The two are in high spirits when they arrive and find the house filled with sleeping newspapermen. After making a brash arrival, Elizabeth is finally told what has happened.

Her flippant attitude in Yardley's eyes is evidence that she is not the woman of high standards he thought her to be. She admits that she has fallen in love with the sailor and then explains to him how she was never married and does not own a farm. Yardley promptly fires her in a rage and at the same time Sloan dissolves their engagement realizing she is not the woman for an esteemed architect like himself.

Even though the cat is out of the bag, Elizabeth doesn't have a chance to tell Jeff the truth before his fiance, the nurse that arranged it all, comes to take him back. The gaiety of the evening before is now dampened as they all prepare to return to their lives.

While Elizabeth is packing, Uncle Felix finds out from the nurse she is already married. So he takes Jeff aside and tells him the truth.

Meanwhile, Yardley, afraid that his rival magazine might snatch the Elizabeth Lane feature from him tries to get Elizabeth back. All the pent up emotions finally snap as Elizabeth tells Yardley how "tired" she is of being pushed around. And for once Yardley is speechless.

Unknown to her the circumstance between the nurse and Jeff, Elizabeth tries to fend off Jeff's sudden advancements. She calls him a sea wolf as he declares that now he is the kind that kisses married women.

All turns out well as the two get together and Yardley holds no hard feelings. In the words of Yardley himself, "What a Christmas!" And what a Christmas movie.

My Opinion

Its a tie each year to say which of these classic Christmas movies are my favorite, but this one vies for the top. What do I like about it? First of all, as I have said again and again, the atmosphere of the World War II era is absolutely charming, but I also love the way the movie plays out. Imagine pulling off a con like that. As a writer myself, its evidence of someone who really knows how to spin a yarn.

If you haven't noticed, the pictures showing the inside of the farm house reveals an extravagant interior that delights me every time I watch it. The rooms are vintage farmhouse style with a modern 40's touch. The window in the back ground of this picture is actually slanted out as it goes up. My family and I always wonder what the benefits of such a window might be. If you happen to know, please let me know so that our curiosity might be satisfied.

This is probably my favorite movie with Dennis Morgan. He's so charming, and that uniform does it all. You know what they say about a man in a uniform. And on the sideline, I love the song he is playing at the moment in the picture above. It is called The Wish That I Wish Tonight. It actually makes up a lot of the films score, and its gives a perfect feeling for it.

I think I'd have to say this is my favorite with Barbara Stanwycke as well. At times she seems almost wishy-washy (in this role, that is) but its more of a "pulled along by the situation" deal. She really gives out, though, when she tells Yardley off in the end. Finally someone tells the "fat man" whats what. And he turns out to be a good egg.

S.Z. Sakall is a grand actor. Out of all the roles he has played, he is still called Uncle Felix by us despite who he is playing at the time. Second to this role, my next favorite with him would probably be Doris Day's uncle in Tea for Two.

Sydney Greenstreet plays the overpowering Mr. Yardley and he plays it well. If you think he's unbearable in this role, you need to see The Woman in White (1948). Compared to that movie, his role as Yardley makes him look like an angel.

Reginal Gardiner is the selfish, if not a little slow, fiance. For years we had seen him play this part and when we saw anything else with him, we viewed him the same. That is until we saw him in A Yank in the R.A.F.. Absolutely hilarious! He played the funny character who just kind of hung around and made dry jokes. Very different.

And that sums up this review. I hope you liked what you read. And I hope I gave you a good idea of the movie. Unfortunately I am running behind in my reviews, but I am still hoping to get them all in before Christmas. That is, except maybe It's a Wonderful Life. I'll tell you why in the review. And if for some reason I forget to, remind me.

Thanks for reading. Merry Christmas!

Classic Christmas Movie Review #1 - Miracle On 34th Street

 For all those who were expecting this sooner, I ask your forgiveness. My schedule didn't work out like I hoped it would. But hopefully I will be able to be more consistent with the rest of the reviews.

My Synopsis (warning, full synopsis includes spoilers):

Directed by George Seaton in 1947, Miracle On 34th Street is a movie about a woman, Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara), who has been disillusioned by the world due to past circumstances, and teaches her daughter that she should only believe in what she can see. Fairytales are not allowed and least of all Santa.

When Kris Kringle becomes an employee at Macy's where she works, Doris has to come to terms with her beliefs and how helpful to life they really are.

In the apartment next to her and her daughter lives a lawyer by the name of Fred Gaily, (John Payne), who thinks a child should be able to believe in fairytales and Santa and have an imagination. At first Doris and Fred disagree but they soon become good friends, despite their difference in opinion.



Meanwhile, during his employment at Macy's, Kris, in the spirit of Christmas, wants to help people and does so by directing them to the nearest place they might find what they are looking when they do not have it, which happens to be Gimbles, Macy's competition. At first Doris and her fellow employee are shocked, but when Mr. Macy himself declares that it is a swell idea, they act more carefully.

Eager to see Susan, Doris' daughter played by Natalie Wood, act like a normal child, Fred takes her to see Santa at Macy's. Kris tells her that he really is Santa but Susie tells him her mother is the lady that hired him. Kris sees her skepticism, as well as her mother's, and plots with Fred to bring them around.

Unfortunately for Kris, Doris and her fellow employee view Kris' belief that he is Santa as potentially dangerous, being told by the staff psychiatrist Kris has "latent maniacal tendencies". To prevent any such thing happening, they decide to have Kris stay with someone during the time he is not working at Macy's. So Fred steps in and offers to share his apartment, hoping more time near Kris will change Doris' mind.

 While working at Macy's, Kris makes friends with a boy who loves playing Santa for the kids. Upon hearing the boy was told by the psychiatrist, Sawyer, his love for playing Santa is the result of a guilt complex, Kris goes to visit Sawyer. The psychiatrist is completely unreasonable, angering Kris to the point of causing him to bop the man on the head. Sawyer, angry at Kris anyway, sees the situation as a means of removing him to an insane asylum.

 They trick him into a ride and take him to Bellevue, leaving Kris to believe Doris was in on it all. In light of that fact, Kris intentionally fails his intelligence test and has commitment papers drawn up against him.

Fred arrives too late to save Kris, but he instead pledges to be his lawyer in the case.

 To everyone's surprise, Fred tells the court that he is not only going to prove Kris' sanity but also that he is Santa Clause. The worlds eyes are on the New York County Courthouse as Santa Clause is on trial.

At first Fred endeavors to use the personal opinion of important people as proof, but his opponent challenges him to bring more sound proof, proof from a respected authority.

 Distressed at the turn of events, Doris, having become very fond of Kris and what he stood for, encourages Susie to believe in him and not give up hope.

She tells her that faith is believing in what you can't see. Sadly, Susie can't simply believe having been taught for years that the opposite is true.

 Fred comes to the point of almost giving up when he gets a message regarding the postal service.

Sacks and sacks of letters to Santa addressed to the courthouse are poured out in front of the judge (Gene Lockhart) who has to recognize the evidence as proof that a branch of the goverment believes Kris to be the real Santa.

 Kris is now free, on the eve of Christmas and just in time too.

 On Christmas morning, Fred, Doris, and Susie join Kris and many others for a celebration, but Susie is disappointed. Previously, she had told Kris that the thing she wanted most was a home in the country. When she doesn't find anything under the tree related to that, she tells her mother that she was right all along, Kris really was "just a nice old man with whiskers".

But Kris isn't finished.

On the way home, Fred is driving through a subdivision after taking directions from Kris to keep them out of traffic. Susie suddenly calls for him to stop. She runs from the vehicle, Doris and Fred hot on her heels, and straight into a deserted house, the house pictured in the magazine clip she had shown to Kris.

Fred proposes Doris marry him and they can all live in the house together. He is stopped short upon seeing something familiar in the corner. Fred realizes that his amazing feat of proving Kris was Santa wasn't so amazing after all.

My opinion:
Miracle on 34th Street has been a classic in my family for as long as I could remember. Definitely among the top six (which I labelled in the last post). The culture presented is utterly delightful. Or to put it more plainly, I love movies from the 40's and 50's. The clothing of the era are one of the things that attracts me the most. But not only that, I like the way of life. Naturally, people at that time were just as imperfect as we are today and people were a hundred years before. And yet there seems to be more of an ease to life compared to the way we are now. There are pros and cons to every era, but I digress.

Maureen O'Hara is one of my favourite actresses. Her temper, red hair, and Irish descent are all notable aspects of her character. She has played many good movies, almost all of which we have seen. Please don't ask me to pick my favourite. I don't think I could. Though The Spanish Main is at the top of the list. (I love Paul Henreid in that. The epitomy of a good pirate/buccaneer who has been wronged and wants revenge.)

John Payne, though never one of my top favourite male actors of the time, has played a lot of good movies and done a swell job of it too. Another movie with Maureen O'Hara and him is the wartime drama/comedy To The Shores Of Tripoli. O'Hara plays the strong tempered, hard to impress army nurse while Payne is a cocky marine who thinks because of his fathers good military reputation he should have the world. Its a good one.

Natalie Wood plays the little child Susie and does an excellent job of it, but other than The Searchers and The Great Race, I haven't seen anything else with her. Her acting, when she got older, was too risque. Not my type of movies.

Edmund Gwenn is best known to me for two parts he played, other than this one, his role as Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (1940) and the assassin in Foreign Correspondent (1940). Very different parts all together. Though as far as I know he never had a leading role, he was a supporting actor in many of the movies I've grown up watching. Even so, in my opinion his best role is the role of Kris in Miracle On 34th Street.

The movie was originally shot in black and white but as with so many of the classics, it has been restored and colorized. The restoration team does their best to choose the colors most accurate to the time, and if at all possible, the actual colors they were. I must admit, I like seeing them in color but its kind of bittersweet. You still know that the colors you are seeing isn't the original. But its nice anyway. When I do the review on Holiday Inn, I will speak more on this subject.

And this wraps up the first of my Classic Christmas Movie Reviews. Thanks for reading. I'd love to hear what you think of my writing so don't hesitate to leave me a comment. Until next time...