From Our Collection: Pollyanna

Pollyanna tells the story of an orphan girl sent to live with a wealthy maiden aunt. Pollyanna’s attitudes and adventures soon have a dramatic effect on her entire town.

Pollyanna is a 1960 Walt Disney Production. It is based on the novel Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter. It was directed by David Swift who also wrote the screenplay. It features performances by Hayley Mills, Jane Wyman, Karl Malden and Agnes Moorehead.

pollyanna dvd cover

image from wikipedia

She Said: Pollyanna

We have many traditions in our house for Easter time. One of our traditions is that we always watch Pollyanna and The Sound of Music on Easter afternoon. We love both of these movies and as we are relaxing on Easter we want to remember how much good there is in life and fill our hearts with gladness.

I know that “Pollyanna” can be used as prerogative in our jaded post -everything world. But, I think it actually has a really great story. Moving is hard. Losing someone you love is hard. I can’t imagine how hard it is to become an orphan and go live among strangers.  It’s so sad to think about what poor Pollyanna has had to endure. Along life’s difficult path her Father created with her “The Glad Game” by which you find something good in everything that happens. It’s absolutely inspiring to think that someone whose life had been tinted with such pain still strove to keep her heart light. It’s not a bad thing to be a Pollyanna in real life. I used to make fun of people who didn’t want to get in the mire and wallow in the wretchedness of a situation. I’m very ashamed of that now and I am trying more all the time to be someone whose heart is light and soaking in the goodness around me. I wish I were more like Pollyanna. Maybe someday with the Lord’s help, I will be.

The other problem that people say about this is that it’s too sweet. I disagree. We see harshness and difficult circumstances in the film. This story is about the journey of all these people and how they choose to let circumstances effect their hearts.  This movie isn’t filled with bad language, sexual content and violence. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have depth because it doesn’t include elements that are detrimental to the viewer. It’s actually very refreshing to see a movie that doesn’t have to be censored or at least is constantly cringe worthy on a taste level. I think it’s very true to life. Everyday we are given circumstances and how we handle them will shape ourselves and the others around us. Aren’t doctors and magazines always telling people to manage their stress and stay positive? This film actually gives some of the tools that help one accomplish the task of achieving a positive attitude.

The acting in the movie is really top-notch. Hayley Mills is precocious, sweet and utterly charming as Pollyanna. It’s no wonder to me at all that she won an Oscar, I just wish they had given her the full size one she really deserved (she was given a special small Child’s Oscar).  Jane Wyman is elegant and imposing as Polly Harrington, Pollyanna’s aunt. Karl Malden gives a wonderful performance as Reverend Ford (although when didn’t Karl Malden give a good performance). Richard Egan is a dashing suitor from Aunt Polly’s past who happens to show up at Pollyanna’s arrival. Agnes Moorehead gives terrific dimensions to Mrs. Snow and makes her a very fascinating character.  The large supporting cast of characters are all interesting and well performed.

This movie is visually stunning. The lavish and beautiful house of Aunt Polly and indeed the whole Harrington are picturesque. The Edwardian costumes are beautiful. After her makeover (I love movie makeovers) Pollyanna is arrayed in a stunning wardrobe of dresses that I have loved since I saw this movie when I was 4.  Jane Wyman carries the styles off beautifully as do the other women in picture. Nancy Olson, who plays the maid Nancy is always darling in her wardrobe and looks almost elegant in her maid’s attire. I love the Edwardian era so the whole movie is a feast for me.  I love seeing the beautiful automobiles, the houses, and all the other period details.

I don’t think this movie is perfect. But, I think it’s amazing. I wish the bazaar and dress shopping scenes were longer!  I wish we heard more about Polly Harrington’s life so we could have a richer back-story on her.  My biggest complaint about the movie is at the very beginning. I hate the opening shot of a group of little boys going skinny-dipping! It’s totally unnecessary! It doesn’t add anything and it makes me very uncomfortable. I know they only show the posterior view but I really don’t like that at all. If they had cut that one part I would probably give it a 10!

Pollyanna really is a great movie. It’s has a lot of tender moments and it’s funny. The thing that I think it does best illuminate is something that all humans need: a good attitude. I think people like to be hard on this movie because it’s sometimes easier to convince ourselves that circumstances can justify a bad mood and ugly reactions. But, the truth is that a good attitude is really what helps people live a happy life. And I think that any movie that serves as a reminder of how precious life is and how much good can be found in any day is a great movie.

Rating- 9

He Said: Pollyanna

When Kari first got me to watch Pollyanna, I was very skeptical.  I thought it would be a light fluffy movie that wouldn’t really speak to me.  Haley Mills sure was cute, but what am I going to get out it?  Aren’t the live action Disney movies the corniest of all?  I was wrong.  There are some great performances here, especially from Jayne Wyman (her painfully rich aunt, in more ways than one) and Richard Egan (whose performance should stand next to Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird when it comes to strong men standing up for others.)

Now, Pollyanna is a tradition in our home every Easter.  It’s 3 hours where you can sit back and relax with everyone in the family after a big Easter lunch.  It’s a nice trip back in time, but it doesn’t over romanticize the era.  Even then, there were rich people that thought they knew better than everyone else.  Unlike now, the rich “villain” of the movie thinks that it is her duty to take care of everyone.  The tension comes in how grudgingly she does it.

This is also a great Easter movie because it demands that you take a look around you and see how great God’s creation really is.  I’m sure most people have heard of calling someone a “Pollyanna” and you’ll get to see why in this film.  It’s great to see how much this little girl brings happiness to the town of Harrington and all those she encounters.  Late in the film, something happens that lets everyone show her how much she’s touched their lives.  I enjoy watching this film every year, because when life isn’t as we’d like it to be, and whose life is exactly what they want to be, it’s hard to remember that God doesn’t want us to worry and focus on the bad things of this world.  He wants us to focus on the positive things in our lives, and be happy in them.

The Bazaar scene alone is enough reason to watch.  Kari and I always watch it and talk about what we’d buy if we had a quarter!

Rating 10

Have you seen Pollyanna?  What are your favorite movies to watch over Easter? Don’t forget to vote in our most recent edition of Choose Our Adventure before voting closes (on Friday, April 13th at noon)!