This movie was my mam’s favourite movie when she was a nipper. The problem was that this movie was so fucking class that my mam began to get delusions that the actress who played Pollyanna (Hayley Mills) was her sister and, according to sources close to her, she began telling everyone that she met, this exact non-fact.
Then I was born and my mam was immediately like “Watch that,” so I watched it with my granny one Christmas and I liked it. The only problem was towards the end, my granny started bawling crying in her bed. I was kind of distracted for the last 10-15 minutes of the movie because I was busy running to get tissues for my crying granny. Luckily, I re-watched it this weekend. Is good! Here is exactly what happened in the movie, verbatim:
Here’s the story from A to Z. If you wanna get with P(ollyanna), you better listen carefully:
Pollyanna’s parents are dead. We don’t know how that happened or what were the circumstances but they are dead. She is lucky to be taken in by her Aunt Polly, instead of having to go to an orphanage. Those are the facts we have to work with.
She arrives in Harrington, which is a small town which (aunt) Polly Harrington practically owns and runs like some kind of malignant Cersei Lannister type. The town Mayor is her Joffrey (except not related and doesn’t torture small animals) and the town Minister gives scary sermons on a Sunday, at her request, to keep the population in line.
Polyanna is picked up at the station by Aunt Polly’s housemaid, Nancy (Nancy Olsen), who is carrying on with a local spunk named George Dodds. Aunt Polly has forbidden Nancy from carrying on with local riff raff, under threat of losing her job, so she tells Pollyanna that George is her cousin Fred.
Only problem here is that Pollyanna is old enough to know that cousins don’t shift and she has it sussed that Nancy is going against her aunt’s orders. Nonetheless, Pollyanna is sound and covers for Nancy. Pollyanna is not at all bitchy, as we’re soon going to discover increasingly.
A pipe bursts in the local orphanage and the town wants to band together to fix it. Aunt Polly decides that since she donated the orphanage, that she is going to pay for the costs. The town really just wants to be a community, as opposed to a dynasty so a lot of people aren’t happy about it but that’s just the way things are in Harrington.
Pollyanna meets local orphan, Jimmy Bean. He really is a remarkable kid. His voice goes up and down in both tone and pitch, as he shouts his lines in trying to convince Pollyanna to get up to vaguely banal activities with him.
Jimmy Bean and Pollyanna go trespassing on the property of Mr. Pendergast. Jimmy says he’s the meanest old man in town and that he kidnaps children and keeps them in his rat infested basement as slaves. Nonetheless, there are good trees in his yard, so child slavery? It’s worth the risk.
Mr. Pendergast catches Jimmy Bean and threatens to call the constable on him but Pollyanna doubles back to save Jimmy and totally rip Mr. Pendergast a new arsehole for the widely held belief that Mr. Pendergast is a dodgy old perv that keeps slave children in his basement.
Mr. Pendergast doesn’t confirm nor fully deny about the child slave accusations but Pollyanna reckons he must be alright because he’s got these prisms that, when held in sunlight, create a rainbow effect on his wall. Pollyanna decides she will visit him again because, child slaver or not, he seems pretty okay otherwise.
Next up is Mrs. Snow (played by the always excellent Agnes Moorehead). Mrs. Snow is, to put in bluntly, a complete and utter hypochondriac, auld bitch in a bed. She’s fully convinced that she’s dying and makes everyone suffer for this obviously non-actuality. Her daughter Mildred is the jumpiest character in the movie and you can quickly see why.
Mrs. Snow and Polyanna have a rocky relationship, which begins to stabilize after P shows Mrs S some of the stuff with the prisms that she learned at Mr. Pendergast’s house. Mrs Snow seems to dig it and everything is fine until Pollyanna comes to visit Mrs Snow when she’s picking out lining and brass for her coffin.
Pollyanna absolutely fucks Mrs Snow out of it for being so morbid and tells her that she doesn’t want to see her again, if she’s going to be such a fucking drag. Pollyanna is probably right. There’s a lot of work to be done on this fundraising Bazaar, to fix up the orphanage and there’s no room for that kind of miserable rubbish.
The bazaar is in trouble, when it becomes apparent that no-one wants to go to it without the blessing of Polly Harrington or the Minister of the town Church. So Pollyanna, who is beginning to turn into some kind of walking, talking version of a “Pharrell Williams is Happy” video, pays him a visit.
She tells him that his sermons are depresssaaaaaannnng and that there’s actually tons of happy shit in the Bible, if you look for it. All through the movie Pollyanna has been telling people what they should be glad about. It pisses people off at first but then they get into it.
Let’s call them G-bombs because she’s dropping gladness left, right and centre, like the US airforce on Muslim schools. Pollyanna’s visit starts the Minster to thinking, as Pollyanna walks away all businesslike, having just dropped another devastating G-bomb.
So Spoiler Alert: The bazaar happens. Mrs. Snow shows up and rigs a hook the prize game so Pollyanna can win a doll (something she always wanted but never owned), the camera lingers lovingly on a really cool old lady playing the drums more than once. Pollyanna sings a solo of an Uber-patriotic American propaganda tune and the event is a resounding success.
Only trouble is that Pollyanna had to climb down a tree to get out of her room and go there, because Aunt Polly was having none of it. Now she has to climb back up that tree to get back inside. The thing is she’s kind of an inverse Jennifer Lawrence: good at stairs-climbing; not so great at tree-climbing. This is the part that turned my granny into a totally saturated snot-bag because she obviously has an accident and ends up paralyzed.
So the good news is that, Aunt Polly’s on-again off-again paramour Dr. Chiltern thinks they can rehabilitate Pollyanna if they take her to get surgery in Baltimore right away but the only problem is that Pollyanna is depressed as hell and she can’t exactly drop a G-bomb on herself.
Basically, just as they are getting ready to leave for Baltimore, the whole entire town shows up at the house, to wish Pollyanna well. This is the point where I start getting a bit sniffley too, because everyone is so nice and says nice stuff to Pollyanna.
Everyone, that is, except Mrs. Snow, who basically insults everyone in the town by saying “What are you all sniffling about? What a bunch of ninnies!”
If dialogue had the same regard given to it as currency inflation does, this would translate into “Gobshites! Stop being such emo dickbags, will ye!” for current audiences.
Mrs. Snow is obviously the best character in Pollyanna, which is actually a damn fine movie that manages to contextualize and interplay themes such as religion and community and highlight how morality and belief systems are not automatically one and the same thing.
It’s on Netflix at the moment. Watch that!