The History of Mr. Polly (film)

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The History of Mr. Polly
"The History of Mr. Polly" (1949).png
Directed by Anthony Pelissier
Produced by John Mills
Written by Anthony Pelissier
H.G. Wells
Starring John Mills
Betty Ann Davies
Megs Jenkins
Finlay Currie
Music by William Alwyn
Cinematography Desmond Dickinson
Edited by John Seabourne
Distributed by General Film Distributors
Release date
  • 1949 (1949) (UK)
  • 1951 (1951) (U.S.)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The History of Mr. Polly is a 1949 British film, based on the 1910 comic novel The History of Mr. Polly by H.G. Wells. It was directed by Anthony Pelissier (who is also credited with the script) and stars John Mills, Betty Ann Davies, Megs Jenkins and Finlay Currie. It was the first adaptation of one of Wells' works to be produced after his death in 1946.


Following his dismissal from a draper's shop, where his father had placed him as an apprentice, protagonist Alfred Polly (John Mills) finds it hard to find another position. When a telegram arrives informing him of his father's death, he returns to the family home. With a bequest of £500, Polly starts to consider his future; and a friend of his father's, Mr Johnsen (Edward Chapman), urges him to invest it in a shop - an idea that Polly hates. Whilst dawdling in the country on a newly-bought bicycle, Polly has a brief dalliance with a schoolgirl, Christabel (Sally Ann Howes); but later marries a cousin, Miriam Larkins (Betty Ann Davies). Fifteen years later, Polly and his wife are running a drapery in Fishbourne, and the marriage has descended to incessant arguments and bickering. While walking in the country, Polly decides to commit suicide but he also sets his shop ablaze in the hope that the insurance will assure Miriam's prosperity; he botches the arson job and, instead of killing himself, rescues an elderly neighbour and becomes a minor local celebrity. Still unhappy, Polly leaves Miriam and is hired by a rural innkeeper (Megs Jenkins) as handyman and ferryman; however, he soon realises that the position was open because the innkeeper's brother-in-law Jim (Finlay Currie) is a drunkard who chases any other man away from the inn. Polly clashes with Jim until the latter accidentally drowns in a weir when he is chasing Polly. Several years later, Polly returns to Fishbourne to find Miriam operating a tea-shop with her sister, in the belief that Polly has drowned, and he returns to his happier life at the inn.


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