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Both the 1947 and the 1994 versions of Miracle on 34th Street have a character called Kris Kringle.

In the story this character is believed by some to be Santa Claus, but believed by others to be delusional and is thus confined to a mental institution.

Is there any supporting evidence from production notes or other documentation that the character of Kris Kringle in the film is truly meant to be Santa?

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    I believe (just finished watching it)
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 19:16
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    If memory serves, at the end of the 1947 movie he's definitively proven to be the real Santa Claus
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 19:38
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    It's pretty clearly meant to be ambiguous.
    – Buzz
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 23:22
  • Wait a minute, are you saying you don't think he really is Santa?!?
    – NJohnny
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 19:53

3 Answers 3

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The original film's co-writers, Valentine Davies and George Seaton, argued about whether their Santa should be "real" or not. Seaton, who also directed the film, described this in a later interview:

It was near Christmastime, and [Val and I] were getting so teed off about the commercialism of Christmas. And Val said, "gee, imagine if Santa Claus came back. What would happen?" Y'know. So we began working on that, and of course Val's idea was that it really was Santa Claus. And I said, "I don't think we can do that. You've got to have a man who thinks he's Santa Claus." And it's all through the film, y'know, he's—he's crazy, or isn't he crazy?

As I interpret this, Davies and Seaton decided to resolve their differences by not resolving them. Or to put it another way, they realized that leaving Kris as an ambiguous figure was more interesting than settling the argument in either direction.

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    I'm upvoting this answer, but I think the mere fact that it's a Christmas movie - and the fact that it has "Miracle" right there in the title - implies that we are supposed to resolve that ambiguity in favor of Kris being the actual Santa Claus. Technically, it's ambiguous in A Christmas Carol whether Scrooge actually is visited by ghosts or merely has a series of bad dreams as a result of indigestion - but the conventions of the genre dictate that we should believe that his experiences were real. This film is a very similar case.
    – tbrookside
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 20:30
  • @tbrookside You make a strong point, and I certainly believe that Kris was the real Santa. Though to play devil's advocate, the "Miracle" in the title could be used in the figurative sense of Kris making "impossible" things happen (e.g. Macy & Gimbel shaking hands, Doris telling Susan to have faith in other people). In fact, the film went through a number of working titles that did not reference supernatural elements (My Heart Tells Me, The Big Heart, It’s Only Human).
    – MJ713
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 21:04
  • @tbrookside And just to get really nitpicky: when Scrooge goes to his nephew's dinner party near the end of the story, he recognizes all the other guests from the vision that the Ghost of Christmas Present had shown him. ("His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when he came. So did the plump sister, when she came. So did every one when they came.") Hard to explain that in terms of indigestion. 😄
    – MJ713
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 21:06
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    That passage is really striking - thank you for pointing it out. That seems to eliminate most of the ambiguity, doesn't it? Of course, Dr. Railly from the original 12 Monkeys would tell us that Scrooge retroactively edited the memory of his own dream to "realize" that the faces in it matched the faces he saw in real life. :-)
    – tbrookside
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 22:39
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According to Wikipedia, in the 1947 film the judge dismisses the case when Fred suggests that because the Post Office delivered mail to him, this was evidence that at least one branch of the federal government acknowledges Kris as Father Christmas.

In the 1994 version: "As the judge is about to make his decision, ruling in favour of the prosecution, Susan approaches the judge with a Christmas card containing a $1 bill. On the back, the words In God We Trust are circled. The judge realizes that, if the US Department of Treasury can put its official faith in God on US currency with no required standard of evidence, then the people of New York can place their faith in Santa Claus in the same way. The judge dismisses the case, declaring that Santa is real, existing in the person of Kris Kringle."

In both cases, the judicial system didn't really want to be the people to say there was no Father Christmas and appeared glad to have some excuse to either get rid of the case or declare that Kris Kringle actually was Father Christmas.

I think in both cases it can't be argued that Kris was legally proven beyond all doubt to be Father Christmas.

The film was written by Valentine Davis who went on to write a book: "The inspiration for the story, about a disillusioned woman, her skeptical daughter and a mysterious man who believes he is the real Santa Claus". However, there seems no indication that Kris Kringle actually was Father Christmas.

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    While this answer provides details from within the film itself, I'm looking to see if the character was meant to be Santa as the films were produced, not if in the film the other characters were meant to believe he was santa
    – A.Steer
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 21:51
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Right at the end of the movie, when Natalie Wood, John Payne, and Maureen O'hara explore the dream house, there is a cane right beside the fireplace. The Kris Kringle character uses a cane. Is it Kris's cane? It is nor made clear and the joke is premised on that ambiguity. You ought to be happy to have been entertained.

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