You've Got to Accentuate the Positive
Why is it easier to be negative rather than positive? Why is it easier to bemoan ill fortune rather than be happy about good fortune? Basically why is it so difficult to be happy and glad? Trust me if you have reached adulthood and are about to watch "Pollyanna" for the first time that is what will be going through your mind by the time it's over. It is the strangest experience because this Walt Disney movie from 1960 which focuses on an orphaned girl making a difference in so many people's lives makes you wonder why we don't live that way, being happy rather than miserable. And the strangest of all things is that in truth "Pollyanna" is a children's movie but one which is so entertaining for adults.
Having been left orphaned young Pollyanna (Hayley Mills - The Trouble with Angels) arrives in the town of Harrington to live with her rich Aunt Polly (Jane Wyman - All That Heaven Allows) whose position in town makes everyone a little bit afraid to disagree with her. But life through Pollyanna's innocent eyes is very different as she brings joy and happiness to all those she meets from a young orphan called Jimmy (Kevin Corcoran) to the old grouch Mrs. Snow (Agnes Moorehead). If only her infectious spirit could work on Aunt Polly who struggles with the happiness which Pollyanna brings.
Regular readers of my movie reviews will not be surprised when I mention that I haven't read Eleanor H. Porter's novel on which this Walt Disney movie is based and by the sounds of it the screenwriters have done a good job of turning it into a movie. Now it is a strange sort of movie because the story is really all about Pollyanna coming to town and through her optimism and good nature as well as her love of the glad game where you look for a positive in everything changes people's lives. That is basically it, she brings the grumpy old hermit Mr. Pendergast out of his shell and encourages Reverend Paul Ford to preach the happy scriptures rather that the fire and brimstone ones.
Okay there is more to "Pollyanna" than just that we have this back story about the orphanage building being too small and this leads to the town holding a bizarre against Aunt Polly's wishes and this then leads to an incident. But to be honest most of this 134 minute movie is the innocence of youth as Pollyanna always looks for something to be happy about. And the daftest thing is that should make "Pollyanna" sickly sweet and emotionally manipulative yet it isn't, in fact it is not until right at the end that your emotions are in the slightest bit manipulated.
Now whilst "Pollyanna" was not Hailey Mills first movie it was her first for Walt Disney and in many ways it is her best one. Mills plays Pollyanna as such a normal girl who is happy and friendly, that is it, there is nothing cutesy or grown up about her, just a child whose innocent views makes so much sense. It means that whilst Hailey Mills shares the screen with Jane Wyman, Richard Egan, Nancy Olson and a whole host of other star names she is never daunted in fact Mills outshines many of these well known names.
What I do find curious is that "Pollyanna" is a children's movie and in fairness I never saw it as a child so don't know but it doesn't actually feel that entertaining for children. In fact as a 40 year old with a love for old movies I found it more entertaining and really enjoyed the whole element of why not be happy and glad rather than miserable. Maybe it does work for children, I hope so because even now 53 years after it was released "Pollyanna" is special.
What this all boils down to is that "Pollyanna" is a brilliant movie which may look like a children's movie but I would say is more for nostalgic adults. The whole story of being glad rather than miserable is so wonderful it not only brightens your day but makes you question why are we so grumpy all the time.