Filling the tiny, but oh so impressive feet of Mary Pickford in one of
her most acclaimed silent screen classics was quite a chore for Walt
Disney. But in an impressive American screen debut, Hayley Mills
launched her career in a most impressive way as Pollyanna.
Pollyanna, who is now an orphan, comes to live with her aunt Polly played by Jane Wyman who is one reserved New Englander. She's the richest woman in town and pretty much everyone kowtows to her. But when the eternally optimistic Hayley Mills comes to live in that town, her infectious spirit seems to effect everyone and everything around her.
Pollyanna is one of Disney's best live action films, Mills and the rest of the cast make it believable without being maudlin. Disney gave Mills and Wyman an impressive roster of players in support that include, Donald Crisp, Leora Dana, Karl Malden, Nancy Olson, James Drury, Reta Shaw, Mary Grace Canfield, and Kevin Corcoran as Mills's partner in juvenile hijinks.
Two people deserve special mention. One is Adolphe Menjou because this turned out to be his last film. He plays Mr. Prendergast the old miser who lives alone and miserable, but who softens at the warmth Pollyanna brings in his life. The second is my favorite here, Agnes Moorehead, who plays crotchety old Ms. Snow, one of those old folks who seem to enjoy being sick and miserable. Her scene at the end with Hayley Mills is the most touching of all in the film.
Pollyanna like George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life both never realizes all the good she's done in that town and like Jimmy Stewart's character faces a crisis. But all her friends rally to her in an It's A Wonderful Life type climax.
Walt Disney does a wonderful job in recreating that era before World War I in small town America, very much like The Music Man. Pollyanna is what they mean by fine family entertainment, as good now as it was when I first saw it in theaters in 1960.
In fact it might just make one curious enough to check out the Mary Pickford silent version.
Action / Drama / Family
Action / Drama / Family
A little girl comes to a town that is embattled by feuds and intimidated by her aunt. By the time she must leave, she has transformed the community with her indominatable will to see the good side of even the worst situations and bring it out for the betterment of all.
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February 06, 2015 at 01:50 AM