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Miracle On 34th Street Shows Macy's HR Is Dropping The Ball

"Miracle on 34th Street" warms the uncertain hearts and minds of Santa Claus skeptics each year, and the holiday film continues to score off the charts with critics and fans alike (per Rotten Tomatoes). The plot revolves around a Macy's Santa Claus — portrayed by British character actor Edmund Gwenn — whose kindness and good deeds aren't enough to keep him out of hot water once he whacks the "contemptible" Mr. Sawyer (Porter Hall) on the head with his walking cane. And then it's up to Kris Kringle's friend and attorney, Mr. Gailey (John Payne), to prove once and for all that there is a Santa Claus.

Gwenn won the role of Kris Kringle in "Miracle on 34th Street," and his yuletide performance garnered him the only Academy Award of his illustrious career. "Now I know there's a Santa Claus," Gwenn said during his acceptance speech at the 20th Academy Awards ceremony (via the Oscars).

The casting of Santa Claus was a critical part of the success of "Miracle on 34th Street," just as it was crucial for the department store to find a suitable replacement for their drunken Kris Kringle (Percy Helton) when he fell off the proverbial sleigh the morning of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the movie. However, the team members depicted in Macy's human resources department don't seem to know what they're doing if clues from the film are any indication.

Macy's HR department has to go

"Miracle on 34th Street" is an emotional classic best remembered for heartwarming scenes like the little Dutch girl (Marlene Lyden) who lights up when old Saint Nicholas (Edmund Gwenn) speaks to her in her native language. However, one of the things only adults notice about the "Miracle on 34th Street" is the utter incompetence of Macy's human resources department.

Fans' first inkling that something isn't quite right in HR comes when Macy's initial Santa (Percy Helton) shows up drunk to ride in the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. No apparent drug or alcohol testing for new employees: strike one. HR then immediately approves the hire of a complete unknown (Gwenn) to take the drunken Santa's place just because he happens to bear a resemblance to Saint Nicholas.

Sure, it turns out that Gwenn's character is the real Santa, but Macy's HR doesn't know that when they approve him to ride in the parade that very morning and work in the Macy's toy department the next day (Black Friday). No background check for new employees: strike two. Then there's the pièce de resistance that proves the ineptitude of Macy's HR department depicted in the film: Santa Claus' employment card.

Santa Claus' employment card should have raised red flags

Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) is determined to prove to her daughter, Susan (Natalie Wood), that the man working in the Macy's toy department is not really Santa Claus, so she requests Claus' employment card to verify his true identity. That employment card is full of questionable entries, which should have raised tons of red flags.

First, HR should have gotten whiplash from the sheer double take that must have occurred when their potential hire listed his name as Kris Kringle on the employment card. Second, the card reveals that the employee's place of birth is the North Pole. The strikes should've been piling up at an alarming rate.

Thirdly, there's no way any capable HR department would have approved the hire of an employee who listed his reindeer team as his next of kin! But they're all registered there on the card from Donner to Blitzen, except for the neglected Rudolph. Finally, let's not gloss over the fact that Santa wrote his age down on the employment card as a riddle rather than a numerical value: "As old as my tongue and a little bit older than my teeth." Smart, sophisticated cinephiles know all about the need for suspending disbelief when watching movies, but that's quite the task when trying to look past the glaring mistakes made by the Macy's HR team in "Miracle on 34th Street." 

It remains a fantastic film, but the Macy's human resources department depicted in the movie was horrendous.