Pollyanna (1960 film)

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Pollyanna (1960 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Philip Kaufman
Produced by Walt Disney (uncredited)
Associate Producer:
George Golitzen
Written by Novel:
Eleanor Porter
Philip Kaufman
Based on Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter
Music by Denny Zeitlin
Cinematography Russell Harlan
Edited by Frank Gross
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date
May 19, 1960 (1960-05-19)
Running time
134 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.5 million[1]

Pollyanna is a 1960 Walt Disney Productions feature film, starring child actress Hayley Mills, Jane Wyman, Karl Malden, Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, 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 Porter, the film was written and directed by Philip Kaufman. 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 1912. 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, who later adopts an orphan and Pollyanna's friend, Jimmy Bean.

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 it always remains because it's an important landmark that her father donated to the town. The townspeople defy her by planning a bazaar 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 former boyfriend, tries to persuade the town's minister, Reverend Ford, to publicly declare his support for the bazaar by reminding him that "nobody owns a church". Mr. Ford is reminded of the truth of that statement while conversing with Pollyanna, who delivers a note from Aunt Polly with recommendations to his sermon content. Reverend Ford tears up the note and frees himself from Aunt Polly's control.

At church the following Sunday, having gained the gumption to defy Aunt Polly, the preacher declares his support for the bazaar and encourages all to attend. On the evening of the carnival Pollyanna is locked in her room by Aunt Polly to prevent her from attending the bazaar. Pollyanna's friend, Jimmy Bean climbs a tree to her bedroom window, and helps Pollyanna out of her room. With misgivings she slips away and has a wonderful time at the carnival, and even gets a new doll of her very own.

After returning home, she avoids Aunt Polly by trying to climb up the tree herself to her attic bedroom. When she reaches her bedroom window, in attempts to catch her new doll that has fallen out of her hands, she falls, paralyzing her legs. Aunt Polly is devastated, and tells her maid, Angelica to call the doctor. She realizes that she loves her niece very much, and feels a strong sense of guilt over Pollyanna's injury, believing that it was her fault. The next morning, she learns of Pollyanna's sadness, and tells Pollyanna she loves her, but the girl remains distraught. She admits to Dr. Chilton that she never gave Pollyanna love, and he tells her they can give her love together, and they embrace.

When the townspeople learn of Pollyanna's accident, they go to 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. Pollyanna, beaming, turns to her aunt, who embraces her. She leaves Harrington with Aunt Polly and Dr. Chilton for an operation in Baltimore, which, it is hoped, will correct her injury.


Director Philip Kaufman cameos as a fireman in an early scene.

Production notes[edit]

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.


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.""[2]

Awards and honors[edit]

Hayley Mills won the 1960 Academy Juvenile Award for her performance, and also received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress.

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


A doll used to promote the film

The film generated a trickle of juvenile merchandise including a Dell comic book,[4] 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.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Swift Comes Back for Loot, Not Art Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Nov 1963: C32.
  2. ^ New York Times: Pollyanna, Ex-Bubblehead
  3. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14. 
  4. ^ Four Color #1129 (August 1960)
  5. ^ 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.... "

External links[edit]