A common criticism meted out against Maureen O’Hara is that she’s often in good films but hardly ever the reason the films are great. In this vein, it’s almost wicked that I chose to write on her work in Miracle on 34th Street, in our celebration. Maureen O’Hara is probably not the first image that comes to mind when you think of this immortal Christmas classic. Your mind probably went instantly to holiday charm, Macy’s consumerism, Natalie Wood's lovely child star turn or Edmund Gwenn’s Oscar-winning Kris Kringle performance.
Still, I find Maureen's place in the movie significant.
A little background: before shooting Miracle on 34th Street, O’Hara had recently moved to Ireland and was essentially forced into taking the role of Doris Walker, the mother who encourages her daughter not to believe in Santa Clause. The film was called The Big Heart at the time and she was not enthusiastic about returning to North America to shoot it. However, once she read the script her sentiments changed and she was immediately keen to co-star. Just what it was about the role that made Maureen so immediately enthusiastic to be a part of the project? [More...]