Pollyanna (1960)

133-134 mins | Drama | July 1960

Director:

David Swift

Writer:

David Swift

Cinematographer:

Russell Harlan A.S.C.

Production Designers:

Carroll Clark, Robert Clatworthy

Production Company:

Walt Disney Productions
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Glad Game . David Swift's onscreen credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by." Although Hayley Mills is listed last in the closing credits, her name appears after Kevin Corcoran's in the opening credits. According to a 16 Feb 1959 Publishers Weekly news item, Walt Disney purchased the screen rights to Eleanor H. Porter’s best-selling novel Pollyanna and its sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up , in order to make a film based on both stories. However, the final film was based only on the first book. Prior to its publication in book form, Pollyanna was serialized in Christian Herald Magazine in 1912. As noted in an Aug 1959 NYT article, the film's story was close to its source, but changed the manner in which “Pollyanna” breaks her legs, and “simmered her cheerfulness down.”
       Thirteen-year-old Hayley Mills, the daughter of actor John Mills, made her American feature film debut in Pollyanna . She had earlier appeared in the British film Tiger Bay . She went on to star in such classic films as Disney’s The Parent Trap (1961, also directed by Swift) and the 1966 Columbia release The Trouble with Angels (directed by Ida Lupino; for both, see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ). Accounts vary slightly as to how Disney cast Mills in Pollyana. He chose her for the role after casting her father for a role in Swiss Family Robinson (see below), and a 30 Aug 1959 NYT article stated that, while watching ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Glad Game . David Swift's onscreen credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by." Although Hayley Mills is listed last in the closing credits, her name appears after Kevin Corcoran's in the opening credits. According to a 16 Feb 1959 Publishers Weekly news item, Walt Disney purchased the screen rights to Eleanor H. Porter’s best-selling novel Pollyanna and its sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up , in order to make a film based on both stories. However, the final film was based only on the first book. Prior to its publication in book form, Pollyanna was serialized in Christian Herald Magazine in 1912. As noted in an Aug 1959 NYT article, the film's story was close to its source, but changed the manner in which “Pollyanna” breaks her legs, and “simmered her cheerfulness down.”
       Thirteen-year-old Hayley Mills, the daughter of actor John Mills, made her American feature film debut in Pollyanna . She had earlier appeared in the British film Tiger Bay . She went on to star in such classic films as Disney’s The Parent Trap (1961, also directed by Swift) and the 1966 Columbia release The Trouble with Angels (directed by Ida Lupino; for both, see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ). Accounts vary slightly as to how Disney cast Mills in Pollyana. He chose her for the role after casting her father for a role in Swiss Family Robinson (see below), and a 30 Aug 1959 NYT article stated that, while watching Tiger Bay to assess John’s performance, the producer was impressed by the girl’s performance in the same film; studio press materials, however, claimed that Disney first considered Hayley after meeting her in person with her family at Disneyland.
       Press materials add the following information: The film was shot mostly on location in Santa Rosa and Napa, CA. Locations included the St. Helena railroad station, the Napa River, Stag’s Leap winery, Luer Ranch and the Egan Ranch, owned by the uncle of Richard Egan, who played “Dr. Edmund Chilton” in the film. “Aunt Polly’s” house, now called Mabelton House, belonged to Mrs. Juilliard McDonald, a member of the famed Juilliard musical family. The crew planted the tree that Pollyanna climbs in the already tree-filled McDonald yard, so that it could then be moved to the studio sound stage for matching shots. Hundreds of local extras were used for crowd scenes, and the production augmented the then-drought-stricken Napa River with 20,000 gallons of water, which were later used to irrigate a local alfalfa ranch.
       A 24 Aug 1959 HR news item states that the crew shot for two days at the Warner Ranch before returning to Disney’s Burbank studio. There, according to press materials, the Aunt Polly set, measuring 110 x 90 feet, consisted of six full rooms that were interconnected in order to allow the cameramen to move continuously from one room to another without having to stop shooting. Although Time listed the film's final budget at $3.2 million, modern sources estimate it at $2.5 million. The film marked Swift's writing and directing debut.
       Upon its release, the film garnered glowing reviews. The Var review stated that “Miss Mills seems headed toward a great career.” The HR reviewer commented that the film “should precipitate a wholesale desertion of that box in the living room, if the addicts haven’t lost their means of locomotion,” and called Mills an “exceptional talent.” For this role, Mills was awarded a special 1960 Academy Award for the Most Outstanding Juvenile Performance, marking the the last time the special award was given. Pollyanna won the Federation of Motion Picture Councils’ award for the Best Family Picture of 1960.
       A previous version of Porter's novel had been filmed in 1920 by United Artists, entitled Pollyanna , directed by Paul Powell and starring Mary Pickford (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ). The Disney version aired on the Walt Disney Presents television show in three parts on 1, 8 and 15 Dec 1963. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Apr 1960.
---
Box Office
18 Apr 1960.
---
Daily Variety
23 Feb 1959.
---
Daily Variety
6 Apr 60
p. 4.
Film Daily
6 Apr 60
p. 10.
Filmfacts
3 Jun 1960
pp. 103-105.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1959
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 1960
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 60
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 1960
p. 1, 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Apr 60
p. 652.
New York Times
30 Aug 1959.
---
New York Times
20 May 60
p. 26.
Publishers Weekly
16 Feb 1959.
---
Saturday Review
7 May 1960.
---
Time
9 May 1960.
---
Variety
13 Apr 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Walt Disney Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Seq consultant
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Matte artist
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Dial coach
Pub man
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter (Boston, 1913).
SONGS
"America, the Beautiful," music by Samuel Augustus Ward, music by Katherine Lee Bates
"Pollyanna," words by Gil George, music by Paul Smith
"Pollyanna's Song," words by David Swift, music by Paul Smith.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Glad Game
Release Date:
July 1960
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 19 May 1960
Los Angeles opening: 27 July 1960
Production Date:
late July--early October 1959
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
16 March 1960
Copyright Number:
LP16180
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
133-134
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19385
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the small town of Harrington during 1912, twelve-year-old, recently orphaned Pollyanna Whittier comes to live with her aunt, Polly Harrington, whose ancestors founded the town. Polly is kind but runs both her house and the town with an austere rigidity, and when Pollyanna arrives, in the hand-me-down clothes from her parents’ missionary station in the British West Indies, her aunt dismisses her to an attic room. Although the servants, assistant Nancy Furman, cook Tillie Lagerlof and maid Angelica, treat the girl with similar brusqueness, Pollyanna utilizes what her father termed “the gladness game” to find a positive aspect even in her lonely new life, and enjoys the majesty of the house and grounds. At dinner, Pollyanna tries hard to please Polly, but cannot help spilling her milk and shocking Polly with her frank assessments of the family’s wealth. Polly first forbids Nancy to see her beau, George Dodds, then cautions Pollyanna to act with the highest propriety in order to represent well the Harrington family. After Pollyanna throws her arms around her aunt to say goodnight, however, Polly warms to her and declares that Pollyanna must have a new wardrobe. The next day, Polly buys the girl outfit after outfit, then leaves Pollyanna in town under Nancy’s care. When George approaches them, Nancy pretends the amorous young man is her cousin “Fred,” and the three share ice cream. Later, Pollyanna unnerves Nancy by admitting that she knows “Fred” is George, but when Polly scolds them for returning late, Pollyanna earns Nancy’s gratitude by taking the blame for their tardiness. Meanwhile, a burst water pipe at the old Harrington House, now the town orphanage, has attracted the attention of ... +


In the small town of Harrington during 1912, twelve-year-old, recently orphaned Pollyanna Whittier comes to live with her aunt, Polly Harrington, whose ancestors founded the town. Polly is kind but runs both her house and the town with an austere rigidity, and when Pollyanna arrives, in the hand-me-down clothes from her parents’ missionary station in the British West Indies, her aunt dismisses her to an attic room. Although the servants, assistant Nancy Furman, cook Tillie Lagerlof and maid Angelica, treat the girl with similar brusqueness, Pollyanna utilizes what her father termed “the gladness game” to find a positive aspect even in her lonely new life, and enjoys the majesty of the house and grounds. At dinner, Pollyanna tries hard to please Polly, but cannot help spilling her milk and shocking Polly with her frank assessments of the family’s wealth. Polly first forbids Nancy to see her beau, George Dodds, then cautions Pollyanna to act with the highest propriety in order to represent well the Harrington family. After Pollyanna throws her arms around her aunt to say goodnight, however, Polly warms to her and declares that Pollyanna must have a new wardrobe. The next day, Polly buys the girl outfit after outfit, then leaves Pollyanna in town under Nancy’s care. When George approaches them, Nancy pretends the amorous young man is her cousin “Fred,” and the three share ice cream. Later, Pollyanna unnerves Nancy by admitting that she knows “Fred” is George, but when Polly scolds them for returning late, Pollyanna earns Nancy’s gratitude by taking the blame for their tardiness. Meanwhile, a burst water pipe at the old Harrington House, now the town orphanage, has attracted the attention of Polly, Mayor Karl Warren and Polly’s former boyfriend, Dr. Edmund Chilton, who is back in town after a five-year absence. Polly has called a town meeting at her home to deal with the situation, and although Pollyanna is sent upstairs, she hides in a large plant to listen. Ed, who is trying to stay out of the town’s business, sees the girl and feeds her snacks through the foliage while Karl tries to convince the town that the overcrowded, dilapidated orphanage must be rebuilt. Polly, however, is adamant that her family home be preserved, and the townspeople are too frightened of her influence to disagree. After Karl leaves in a fury, Pollyanna retreats to the kitchen, where Angie is critical of Pollyanna’s unfailing cheerfulness, but Nancy and Tillie stick up for the girl, and warn her that the coming Sunday will be difficult to bear. On Sunday, everyone attends church, where Rev. Paul Ford delivers the sermons that Polly prepares for him, preaching of God’s dark wrath and the dire consequences of sin. Afterward, when Polly’s staff complain about the sermon, Pollyanna explains the glad game and points out how nice it is that the next Sunday is six days away. In town soon after, Pollyanna passes the orphanage, where she sees young Jimmy Bean escape down a tree. Although she scolds him, she joins him at the fishing hole, and when she spots Ed there, subtly relates that Polly will be home alone all day. Later, Jimmy takes Pollyanna to explore the dilapidated manor of crotchety Mr. Pendergast. When Mr. Pendergast catches Jimmy, Pollyanna chases after them to rescue her friend, and soon convinces the old man not to call the constable. Although he pretends to be cruel, Mr. Pendergast is actually lonely and kind, and when Pollyanna admires a rainbow reflected onto the wall through a glass prism, he explains the principles of light to her. Meanwhile, Ed visits Polly and tries to speak frankly about his continuing love for her, but she changes the subject and soon the two are arguing. The next day, Polly sends Nancy and Pollyanna to town with charity baskets, and when it soon becomes clear to the girl that the recipients find the baskets patronizing, she presents each basket as a gift from one friend to another. The last stop is to Mrs. Snow, a cranky shut-in who considers herself an invalid. Although Nancy and Mrs. Snow’s daughter, Mildred, are terrified of the older woman, Pollyanna soon charms Mrs. Snow by stringing up prisms to throw rainbows on her wall. At the same time, Karl and Ed are organizing a fund-raising bazaar for a new orphanage. An enthusiastic Pollyanna brings Jimmy to visit Mr. Pendergast, who is secretly thrilled to see them, and convinces the old man to sell “rainbow maker” prisms at the bazaar. She then asks Mrs. Snow to make a quilt, but the shut-in is busy choosing her own coffin liner. Although Pollyanna tells Mrs. Snow how she once asked the mission for a doll but got crutches by mistake, emphasizing how she managed to feel glad that she did not need crutches, Mrs. Snow remains ill-humored, prompting Pollyanna to leave in frustration. Soon, Polly hears that Nancy and Pollyanna are involved with the bazaar, and forbids them to continue. Karl and Ed then learn that many townspeople are too frightened of Polly’s authority to attend the bazaar, so Ed confronts Polly at her house to ask for her cooperation. Polly remains cool and suspicious, but after Ed accuses her of having “no love to give,” she cries in secret. Outside, Ed, George and Nancy commiserate, and after hearing Pollyanna comment that “no one can own the church,” go to Paul to enlist his support. Paul, however, is also too frightened to stand up to Polly. Later, Pollyanna visits Paul as he practices his sermon, and inspires him by relating her father’s own struggles with reaching his flock and his eventual reliance on Abraham Lincoln’s statement that “When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.” The next Sunday, Paul apologizes to the congregation and preaches joy instead of doom, after which he urges everyone to go to the bazaar. Although Polly is horrified, the town is galvanized, and that night, the bazaar is a huge success. Pollyanna has been forbidden to attend, but Jimmy climbs the tree outside her window and persuades her to sneak out with him. At the bazaar, a suddenly healthy Mrs. Snow has arrived with her finished quilt and secretly arranges for Pollyanna to win a doll. Hours later, Pollyanna clutches the beloved doll as she climbs back up the tree, but at the top, she loses her balance and crashes to the ground. Ed soon diagnoses her with partial paralysis, stunning the household, which gathers around Pollyanna’s bed, hoping to cheer her up. When Paul visits, a devastated Polly questions how God could allow such suffering, but Paul reminds her that they all should be grateful to God for sending Pollyanna, who has touched the whole town with her optimism. Ed tells Polly that, although they can attempt to operate on her legs, Pollyanna’s own attitude will most affect her recovery. Polly, who blames herself for the accident, tells Pollyanna she loves her, but the girl remains distraught and refuses to play the glad game. In private, Polly begs Ed for another chance, and they hope that together they can give Pollyanna enough love to recuperate. Suddenly, the gardener rushes in with the news that people are trampling the flowerbeds. When Polly opens the front door, she sees the entire town approaching, each person carrying a gift for Pollyanna. Ed carries the reluctant girl downstairs, where one by one the townspeople each wish her health. Mrs. Snow leads the group, advocating positive thoughts, while Mr. Pendergast announces that he has adopted Jimmy, and Nancy shows Pollyanna her new engagement ring from George. After Paul points out that they looked for the good in people and found it, Pollyanna, beaming, turns to her aunt, who embraces her. Later, as Polly and Ed take her by train to the hospital, Pollyanna watches joyfully from the window while the townspeople erect the slogan “The Glad Town” under the Harrington railroad sign. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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