Monday, December 17, 2007

Two Stereotypes for the Price of One

Just in time for Christmas comes this little tidbit about the 1994 remake of the holiday classic film Miracle on 34th Street.

The altogether terrible remake of the 1947 classic features a drunken department store Santa Claus, as does the original. In both films, the "real" Santa Claus takes the drunk to task for letting the children down and setting a lousy example.

In the original, the part of "Drunken Santa Claus" was uncredited and played by actor Percy Helton. The 1994 remake -- for no apparent reason -- chose to retain the character, but renamed him Tony Falacchi!

The Falacchi character in the remake is played by Jack McGee, probably best known to audiences as Chief Jerry Reilly on Denis Leary's firefighter TV series "Rescue Me."

In one fell swoop, the producers of the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street managed to shoehorn in two stereotypes. One against Italian-Americans for giving a drunk character an Italian name -- for no apparent reason. And the other against the Irish, for hiring an Irish actor to play a drunk, albeit a drunken Italian in this case.