Small Miracle

Small Miracle is a 1934 play by Norman Krasna, presented on Broadway with Joseph Calleia in the featured role. Directed by George Abbott with a single setting designed by Boris Aronson, the three-act melodrama opened September 26, 1934, at the John Golden Theatre, New York. It continued at the 48th Street Theatre November 11, 1934 – January 5, 1935.[1][2] On February 7, 1935, the play began a run at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, with Calleia, Joseph King and Robert Middlemass reprising their Broadway roles.[3][4][5]

Small Miracle
First edition dust jacket (1935)
Written byNorman Krasna
Date premieredSeptember 26, 1934 (1934-09-26)
Place premieredJohn Golden Theatre,
New York City, New York
Original languageEnglish
SettingLounge of the 43rd Street Theatre, New York

It was Krasna's second play, written in the evenings while he was working as a Columbia Pictures contract writer during the day.[6] He adapted the play for the Paramount Pictures film, Four Hours to Kill! (1935).



The New Yorker called Small Miracle "a very satisfactory melodrama with Joseph Spurin-Calleia as the pleasantest murderer you ever saw."[8]

"George Abbott's talent for accuracy of detail has given this tabloid tale of Times Square passions an uncanny, cumulative fascination," wrote drama critic Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times. Praising Boris Aronson's set design and the performances of Ilka Chase, Myron McCormick, Elspeth Eric, Joseph King and Robert Middlemass, he reserved his highest praise for the featured actor: "Joseph Spurin-Calleia as the prisoner plays with such keen authenticity and such sensitive understatement of emotion that his scenes are enormously moving. Type casting becomes an art when an actor can draw so much pulsing truth out of a character."[7]

The Stage magazine wrote that "there have been few gangsters of the heartbreaking calibre of Joseph Spurin-Calleia's Tony Mako. To this excellent, rather quiet melodrama with its paucity of dead bodies, he gives a sure feeling of impending catastrophe."[9]

Photographs of the original Broadway production of Small Miracle appeared in the November 1934 issue of The Stage magazine.

Publication history

Small Miracle was published in 1935 by Samuel French, Inc., with a preface by George Abbott.[10]


Krasna adapted Small Miracle for the Paramount Pictures film, Four Hours to Kill!, released in April 1935 and starring Richard Barthelmess.[11] In 1944 Paramount Pictures announced it would film a new adaptation of Small Miracle, starring Alan Ladd; the project was not realized.[12]


  1. "Small Miracle". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  2. "Small Miracle". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  3. "News of the Stage". The New York Times. February 8, 1935. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  4. Hart, Enid (February 15, 1935). "Theatrical Chi-Chat". The San Marino Tribune. Mr. Spurin-Calleia justifies the advance news of his ability. The rest of the cast also is first class. Small Miracle should have a record run.
  5. Soanes, Wood (February 22, 1935). "Curtain Calls". Oakland Tribune. Spurin-Calleia … has started a run for Henry Duffy at El Capitan in his original role in Small Miracle.
  6. McGilligan, Patrick (1986). Backstory: Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780520056893.
  7. Atkinson, Brooks (September 27, 1934). "The Play: 'Small Miracle' Being a Slice of New York Life in a Theatre Lobby". The New York Times. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  8. "Goings On About Town". The New Yorker. X (46): 2. December 29, 1934.
  9. "A Playgoer's Discoveries". The Stage. Vol. 12 no. 2. New York: John Hanrahan Publishing Company. November 1934. p. 14. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  10. Krasna, Norman (1935). Small Miracle: A Play in Three Acts. New York, Los Angeles: Samuel French, Inc. OCLC 1690719.
  11. "Four Hours to Kill!". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  12. "Screen News Here and in Hollywood". The New York Times. January 17, 1944. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
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