Pollyanna (1960 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Swift|
|Produced by||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 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, early 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 Harrington citizens want a derelict orphanage razed and rebuilt, Aunt Polly opposes the idea. 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, tries to persuade the town's minister, the Rev. Mr. 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 about his sermon content.
At church the following Sunday, in defiance of Aunt Polly, the preacher declares his support for the bazaar and encourages all to attend. On the evening of the carnival Pollyanna is coaxed out of the house by playmate Jimmy Bean, who reminds her that she will lead "America, the Beautiful" at the high point of the event. With misgivings 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 falls and is severely injured, losing the use of her legs. Her spirit sinks with the calamity, jeopardizing her chance of recovery. When Aunt Polly hears that, she feels sad, 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 for not allowing Pollyanna to go to the carnival in the first place. Polly, who blames herself for the accident, tells Pollyanna that she loves her, but the girl remains distraught. When the townspeople learn of Pollyanna's accident, they gather en masse in Aunt Polly's house with outpourings of love. Ed 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 (who has fallen in love with Aunt Polly) for an operation in Baltimore, which, it is hoped, will correct her injury.
- Hayley Mills as Pollyanna Whittier
- Jane Wyman as Aunt Polly Harrington
- Kevin Corcoran as Jimmy Bean
- Richard Egan as Dr. Edmond Chilton
- Karl Malden as Reverend Ford
- Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Snow
- Jenny Egan as Mildred Snow
- Adolphe Menjou as Mr. Pendergast
- Reta Shaw as Tillie Lagerlof, the cook
- Mary Grace Canfield as Angelica, the upstairs maid
- Nancy Olson as Nancy Furman, the downstairs maid and Polly's personal assistant
- James Drury as George Dodds, Nancy's sweetheart
- Leora Dana as Mrs. Ford
- Gage Clarke as Mr. Murg, the town mortician
- Donald Crisp as Mayor Karl Warren
- Edward Platt as Ben Tarbell
- Anne Seymour as Amelia Tarbell
- Ian Wolfe as Mr. Neely
- Nolan Leary as Mr. Thomas
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.
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.... "