Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Filmmaker John Hughes Recalls Christmases Past

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Filmmaker John Hughes Recalls Christmases Past

Article excerpt

`I COULD never hope to write a better Christmas story than `Miracle on 34th Street,' " explained producer/director John Hughes. "The original movie by George Seaton and Valentine Davies was brilliant. Its message of putting faith on trial is just as vital today as in 1947.

"I regard myself not as an originator, but as a guardian. That's why I put their names, even though both are deceased, on the 1994 film."

"It's such a compelling story, the notion of putting Santa Claus on trial. I feel in '94 it has a relevance that I don't think Seaton and Davies could have ever predicted.

"In our litigious society to put faith on trial, and then create an argument that supports it, is something I think people would want to see."

Hughes, who grew up, lives, and films his movies in the Midwest, feels his middle-American roots make him closer in values to the average filmgoer. His home and studio are in Chicago.

"I identify with the audience because I am the audience," he confided. "I make pictures I want to see, and want to take my kids to see."

Certainly, his all-time hits, "Home Alone" and "Home Alone II," prove his point.

"A big part of growing up for me was going to J.L. Hudson's in Detroit to see Santa Claus. Later, it was taking my kids to Marshall Fields in Chicago to see Santa. I think those department stores played a bigger role in our lives than we realize.

"I can remember when I was a kid going into the department stores and seeing clerks that I'd seen the year before... having the man who ran the toy department ask if I'd liked the firetruck my dad had such fun buying. Those small personal things - you don't notice they are passing: Then, you stop and look back, and there's an accumulation of all those little losses that adds up to a great single loss.

"I think of it at Christmas when you go to those huge discount places, and you can't find a clerk. You stand in long lines, and your package isn't rung up, it's scanned. Where are the people? You have to say Merry Christmas to a computer.

"There's a scene in `Miracle on 34th Street' when a mother whispers to Santa that her husband's on half pay, and the gift her son will ask for is too expensive. …

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