Pollyanna (1960 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Swift|
Walt Disney (uncredited)|
|Based on||Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter|
|Music by||Paul Smith|
|Edited by||Frank Gross|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|May 19, 1960|
Pollyanna is a 1960 Walt Disney Productions feature film, starring child actress Hayley Mills, Jane Wyman, Karl Malden, and Richard Egan, in a story about a cheerful orphan changing the outlook of a small town. Based on the novel Pollyanna (1913) by Eleanor H. Porter, the film was written and directed by David Swift. The film marks Mills's first of six films for Disney, and it won the actress an Academy Juvenile Award.
Pollyanna is the 12-year-old orphaned daughter of missionaries who arrives in the fictional small town of Harrington to live with her rich and strict aunt, Polly Harrington, in the 1900s. Pollyanna is a very cheerful, talkative and radically optimistic youngster who focuses on the goodness of life and always finds something to be glad about, no matter the situation. In doing so, Pollyanna's positive outlook on everything results in her making a wide variety of friends in the community, including the hypochondriac and grouchy Mrs. Snow and the acidic recluse Mr. Pendergast.
Aunt Polly's wealth controls most of the town, and, when most of the Harrington citizens want a derelict orphanage razed and rebuilt, Aunt Polly opposes the idea, arguing that her father donated the building to the town, and that it is an important landmark. The townspeople defy her by planning a carnival to raise funds for a new structure. However, because of the control Aunt Polly asserts over every facet of the town, many people feel reluctant to show their support. Aunt Polly becomes furious about their audacity, and she forbids Pollyanna to participate.
A group of citizens led by Dr. Edmond Chilton, Aunt Polly's ex-boyfriend, tries to persuade the town's minister, Rev. Ford, to publicly declare his support for the bazaar by reminding him that "nobody owns a church." Rev. Ford is reminded of the truth of that statement talking to Pollyanna, who delivers a note from Aunt Polly with recommendations to his sermon content.
At church the following Sunday, having gained the gumption to defy Aunt Polly, Rev. Ford declares his support for the bazaar and encourages all to attend. On the evening of the carnival, Pollyanna is locked in her attic bedroom by Aunt Polly, but is "rescued" by playmate Jimmy Bean, who reminds her that she will lead "America, The Beautiful" at the high point of the event. With Jimmy's help, she slips away and has a wonderful time at the carnival.
After returning home, she avoids Aunt Polly by climbing a tree to her attic bedroom. When she reaches her bedroom window, she loses her new doll, which falls to the ground. Pollyanna slips and falls unconscious. Aunt Polly comes out with the maids and only then does she feels guilt for what she has done. Pollyanna learns her legs are paralyzed and she may not walk again. As a result, she develops severe depression and jeopardizing her chance of recovery. Upon learning how her own behavior has isolated her from the town and Pollyanna, Aunt Polly feels extreme guilt. While talking to Dr. Chilton, she admits that her niece needed her love and it was something she never gave her. Dr. Chilton tells Aunt Polly that they can give Pollyanna the love together and help mend the isolation she put on the townsfolk. When the townspeople learn of Pollyanna's accident, they arrive at Aunt Polly's house with outpourings of love. Dr. Chilton carries the reluctant girl downstairs, where, one by one, the neighbors wish her health. Pollyanna's spirit gradually returns to its usual hopefulness and love of life. She also learns that Jimmy had been adopted by Mr. Pendergast and that Nancy and her fiancé are engaged. Pollyanna turns to her aunt who embraces her. She leaves Harrington with Aunt Polly and Dr. Chilton for an operation in Baltimore, which will correct her injury.
- Hayley Mills as Pollyanna Whittier
- Jane Wyman as Polly Harrington, Pollyanna's aunt
- Kevin Corcoran as Jimmy Bean, an orphan who is eventually adopted by Mr. Pendergast
- Richard Egan as Dr. Edmond Chilton, Polly Harrington's ex-boyfriend
- Karl Malden as Reverend Ford, the church minister
- Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Snow, a hypochondriac
- Jenny Egan as Mildred Snow, Mrs. Snow's daughter
- Adolphe Menjou as Mr. Pendergast, a recluse who eventually opens his heart and adopts Jimmy
- Reta Shaw as Tillie Lagerlof, the cook
- Mary Grace Canfield as Angelica, the upstairs maid
- Nancy Olson as Nancy Furman, the downstairs maid and Pollyanna's new best friend
- James Drury as George Dodds, Nancy's boyfriend
- Leora Dana as Mrs. Ford, Reverend Ford's wife
- Gage Clarke as Mr. Murg, the town mortician
- Donald Crisp as Mayor Karl Warren, Dr. Chilton's uncle
- Edward Platt as Ben Tarbell, Amelia Tarbell's husband
- Anne Seymour as Amelia Tarbell
- Ian Wolfe as Mr. Neely
- Nolan Leary as Mr. Thomas
- Edgar Dearing as Mr. Gorman
Director David Swift cameos as a fireman in an early scene.
Pollyanna was filmed in Santa Rosa, California with the Mableton Mansion at 1015 McDonald Avenue in Santa Rosa serving as the exterior and grounds of Aunt Polly's house. Other California locations include Napa Valley and Petaluma. Interiors were filmed at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. Although the movie was filed in California, in the book (written by Eleanor Porter) Harrington was set in Vermont. However, in the Disney movie, Harrington is located in Maryland as Baltimore is mentioned several times throughout the script. At the end of the film, Aunt Polly and Pollyanna take the train to Baltimore, probably headed to Johns Hopkins Hospital due to the delicacy of the operation needed. (John Hopkins opened in 1889 and the story takes place in the 1900s.) 
Jerry Griswold of San Diego State University wrote in the New York Times of October 25, 1987, "An attempt was made to resuscitate Pollyanna in 1960 when Walt Disney released a movie based on the book. Time, Newsweek and other major reviewers agreed that such an enterprise promised to be a disaster - a tearjerker of a story presented by the master of schmaltz; what surprised the critics (their opinions were unanimous) was that it was his best live-action film ever. But few had reckoned the curse of the book's by-then-saccharine reputation. When the movie failed to bring in half of the $6 million that was expected, Disney opined: "I think the picture would have done better with a different title. Girls and women went to it, but men tended to stay away because it sounded sweet and sticky.""
Awards and honors
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
The film generated a trickle of juvenile merchandise including a Dell comic book, a paper-doll collection, an LP recording, an illustrated Little Golden Book, and a 30" Uneeda character doll in a red and white gingham dress, pantaloons, and boots. As part of a merchandise promotion, Disney was selling photo lockets with the quote claiming to be from Abraham Lincoln on them: "If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." Discovering the necklace in a gift shop while on vacation with his family, director/screenwriter David Swift called the studio to have the item recalled immediately, as it was not a quote from Lincoln, but actually a paraphrasing of a line from Eleanor Porter's original 1913 novel that was written for the film.
- Swift Comes Back for Loot, Not Art Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Nov 1963: C32.
- New York Times: Pollyanna, Ex-Bubblehead
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
- Four Color #1129 (August 1960)
- https://www.epubbooks.com/book/392-pollyanna - chapter XXII - "When you look for the bad, expecting it, you will get it. When you know you will find the good—you will get that.... "