Worst: Richard Attenborough (Miracle on 34th Street )
Nothing against Richard Attenborough, who I think is a very fine actor, but this iteration of Santa was just not it. This could be because of the movie around him, or because Edmund Gwenn, who again won an Academy Award for playing Santa, was so phenomenal in the same role. Attenborough had a mighty tall task ahead of him already, but the movie itself didn’t do him any favors either.
All of the parts of the original Miracle on 34th Street that made Gwenn’s Kringle so charming and realistic must have been left on the cutting room floor when they decided to remake the film. This can be seen when THE scene happens where Kringle strikes Tony, which in this film is another Santa.
In the original this scene was done over the protection of a young boy, but in the sequel it is done because Tony is berating him on the street? This Santa never felt real, never felt honest, and instead played off much worse than what Gwenn was able to bring to screen. Attenborough has the looks and the ability, but he didn’t have the writing to help his case.
There is also an issue with the film overall to where they made the movie far more depressing in tone than the original. The original film is one you are bound to catch on “25 Days of Christmas”, or any other channel that has Christmas oriented content. It is an uplifting and lighthearted film that really makes you feel Santa’s presence.
This remake doesn’t do just that, and instead has a slightly more somber tone, one that doesn’t really fit the Christmas spirit. Even if the movie ends on a heartwarming gesture, and even if Attenborough had a few redeeming qualities as Santa apart from the film, he just didn’t have the right pieces around him to really help his case. Ultimately causing his Santa to feel more like a cynical old man than a jolly elf.