Children and Family Films : [Last Film I Watch] Pollyanna (1960) [7/10]

[Last Film I Watch] Pollyanna (1960) [7/10]

Title: Pollyanna
Year: 1960
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Family, Drama
Director: David Swift
David Swift
Eleanor H. Porter
Music: Paul J. Smith
Cinematography: Russell Harlan
Hayley Mills
Jane Wyman
Richard Egan
Nancy Olson
Karl Malden
Adolphe Menjou
Donald Crisp
Agnes Moorehead
Kevin Corcoran
James Drury
Reta Shaw
Edward Platt
Anne Seymour
Leora Dana
Mary Grace Canfield
Ian Wolfe
Rating: 7/10

A Disney’s vintage live action mounted with magnificent Technicolor treatment, running more than 2 hours, POLLYANNA is a life-affirming fairytale directed by old-hand writer David Swift as his feature debut, while accidental tragedy sweeps under its carpet.

A young girl named Pollyanna (Mills), who has lost her parents and is adopted by her aunt Polly (Wyman) in Harrington’s Town, where she is not just a prim wealthy matriarch, but also the mighty decision-maker of the whole town, yes, she is the sole heiress of Harrington family. So up from the mayor Karl (Crisp), the minister Paul Ford (Malden), down to her house staff, assistant Nancy (Olson), cook Tillie (Shaw) and maid Angelica (Canfield), everyone is either intimidated by her supremacy or surrendered to the vested interest involved.

Therefore, Pollyanna’s arrival is destined to break the unhealthy equilibrium and bring her ingenuously sanguine school of thought into the town by winning over everyone! It will hardly work in an authentically cynical world, but thankfully it is in Disneyland, the stranger-shunning recluse Mr. Pendergast (Menjou in his final silver screen presence) is actually a Mr. Nice Guy, and the cantankerous bed-ridden Mrs. Snow (Moorehead, shines in her scene-stealing bellyaching) is no more than a big baby just needs a little bit of motivation. Even Reverend Ford can be generously granted a thorough catharsis through Pollyanna’s seemingly unintentional chit-chat. The point is in Harrington’s Town, there is no evil, even for Aunt Polly, she is never malevolent, in fact she is just shackled by her self-appointed lofty duty to act as a role model for the townsfolk, as discreetly as possible. Her strong intention to maintain the ancient orphanage is more for the building's legacy other than her own sake, albeit a better solution is to build a new one. So, things can have been tread lightheartedly until DP Russell Harlan’s ominous overlooking shots raise no less fear for the acrophobic than Hitchcock’s VERTIGO (1958, 8/10), also amps up the suspense is Paul J. Smith’s ferociously taut accompanying score which in most of time is as jolly as a bumblebee in the spring. For those who haven’t read the novel from Eleanor H. Porter (me included), it is a shocking twist, and in one second, we may even believe we will lose her forever, only if it was true, the film would be worshipped for its groundbreaking bravura and gutsy dare to defy Disney’s family-friendly quintessence. Although it turns out to be a bluff, the movie is excellent in at least tricking me into believe it even for a split second.

Hayley Mills won a Juvenile Award in the Oscars, which in my opinion, the Academy should keep it aside from the usual acting branch (in that case we could have avoided the glaring category fraud cases such as Hailee Seinfeld and Tatum O’Neal), Mills is quite distinctive from other cherubic child sensations, she is neither a pretty doll nor a resplendent princess, she is plainly approachable, Mills illuminates the screen with her refined line-delivery and urgent sincerity without ever over-acting or dumbing down to memorise by rote. Jane Wyman also establishes a powerhouse omnipresence in her absolute wheelhouse, never flaunts in the abysmally ambiguous “villain” categorisation where she is, her aunt Polly is a victim of overpriced dignity, she enriches her with every bit of nuance which may not in the script. Most supporting characters are cartoon-ish, Richard Egan is quite a dull as Dr. Chilton and Nancy Olson is unprecedentedly harsh at the beginning, but Karl Malden’s hectoring Sunday sermon is very amazing to watch and not to go deep into religion, people are either too devout or put-upon to hear it for three years, still is not long enough to brainwash their simpleton minds.
Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench

Re: [Last Film I Watch] Pollyanna (1960) [7/10]

4/10 Dreadful. I was thoroughly disappointed. This is indeed Walt Disney's Pollyanna as it bears little resemblance to Eleanor H. Porter's two "glad" books. Being familiar and having been enchanted by the World Masterpiece Theater 1986 anime adaptation, I was very disappointed with Disney's dumbed-down little picture. Sign petition, save The Rescuers!