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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pollyanna (1960)

A 12 year old orphan (Hayley Mills) comes to live with her rich Aunt (Jane Wyman) at the turn of the century. The Aunt owns or runs most of the town and exerts great pressure to the community to accommodate her wishes. Although she is met with great resistance at first, the eternally optimistic young child slowly begins to exert a positive influence on the town. Based on the 1913 novel by Eleanor Porter, a previous film had been made in 1920 with a 27 year old Mary Pickford in the title role which was one of her biggest hits. The Disney film has made a great many changes from the novel. The word "Pollyanna" has unfortunately become synonymous with saccharine which the movie is definitely not. The director David Swift (THE PARENT TRAP) also wrote the screenplay and he's careful to avoid any excessive sentimentality. He is aided in this by an excellent cast of actors who bring some vinegar and levity to their performances and the young Miss Mills manages to avoid the "cutes" that so many child actors mistake for being adorable. The girl is a real actress.  This is a wonderful family film in the best sense of the word. The large cast includes Richard Egan, Karl Malden, Adolphe Menjou, Agnes Moorehead, Nancy Olson, Donald Crisp, Leora Dana, James Drury, Reta Shaw, Edward Platt, Anne Seymour and Kevin Corcoran.

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