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Pollyanna Vault Disney DVD Review

Pollyanna

Theatrical Release: May 19, 1960 / Running Time: 134 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: David Swift

Cast: Hayley Mills (Pollyanna), Jane Wyman (Aunt Polly), Karl Malden (Rev. Paul Ford), Adolphe Menjou (Mr. Pendergast), Leora Dana (Mrs. Paul Ford), James Drury (George Dodds), Jenny Egan (Mildred Snow), Richard Egan (Dr. Edmond Chilton), Kevin Corcoran (Jimmy Bean), Agens Moorehead (Mrs. Snow), Nancy Olson (Nancy Furman), Donald Crisp (Mayor Karl Warren), Reta Shaw (Mrs. Tillie Lagerlof)


Review by Kelvin Cedeno

What makes Pollyanna stand out from many Disney live action films is how gentle and character-driven this is. Pollyanna is not about plot as much as it is about character development, and thanksfully, it pulls it off well. With the subject matter of a little girl bringing joy to all who meet her, the film had the challenge of avoiding nauseating cliches and bringing something both natural and fresh. It's the kind of film that if it were to fails, it would fail successfully, but if it were to succeed, it would succeed likewise.

Joyfully, it falls firmly into the latter. All the performances are uniformly excellent, with Hayley Mills as the standout in the title role. With such an optimistic character in the heart of the film, everything could be wonderful except the main actress and the film would still fail. Hayley Mills succeeds in making Pollyanna believable and warm, which could have easily become nausea-inducing in the hands of many other child actors. Pollyanna is truly a classic that is a breath of fresh air from other formulaic pieces both from Disney and otherwise.
 

Buy Pollyanna from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.75:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Release Date: May 7, 2002
Two Single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $22.99
(reduced from $29.99)
White Double Alpha Keepcase


VIDEO and AUDIO

The THX-certified 1.75:1 transfer is remarkably clean and pristine. Colors, though occasionally pale, remain very natural while sharpness remained consistently good. Print flaws were kept to a minimum, with only a handful of grain and occasional (though rare) speckles popping up now and then. It may not be the best looking transfer for a '60s film, but it's quite good nonetheless.

There isn't much to comment on the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround soundtrack. Speech remained clear without ever thinning out and the effects and score were nicely spread out, never overpowering the dialogue. It doesn't make full use of the surrounds, but is generally positive, especially for a film of this age.

Pollyanna Main Menu

EXTRAS

Pollyanna appears in a 2-Disc edition as part of the Vault Disney collection. The supplements here and good and plenty starting with an audio commentary by Director David Swift and star Hayley Mills on Disc One. The two clearly have a good time reminiscing about the various things that occured while shooting, and many interesting stories pop up. It isn't a very in-depth commentary track, and the long running length of the film makes it a bit hard to sit through, but it's pleasant enough to warrant a listen.

Also on Disc One is the short "Nifty Nineties" starring Mickey and Minnie in a period similar to that of Pollyanna's. As this short originally appeared before the film upon theatrical release, it appears before the film on DVD, in a nice touch.

Preview trailers at the start of the disc are for Lilo & Stitch, Max Keeble's Big Move, and Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. Accessing the Sneak Peeks menu also gives you the choice to watch previews for Return to Never Land, Monsters, Inc., and Beauty and the Beast.

"Nifty Nineties" short Pollyanna: Making of a Masterpiece 'Recreating Pollyanna's America

Disc Two, naturally, contains the rest of the supplements beginning with the featurette "Pollyanna: Making of a Masterpiece" (29 minutes). As with other Vault Disney featurettes, this is compiled of new interviews with various cast and crew members as well as film historians. Some location footage occasionally appears here and there, and the people interviews provide interesting perspectives on the making of the film. It's a breezy and informative featurette that's very well produced.

Next up is "Recreating Pollyanna's America" (15 minutes) which is a featurette on the costumes and sets made to convey 1912's nostalgic America. The featurette is fascinating in just how much effort went into creating the film to be as authentic as possible, with care given to details the audience may not notice.

"1912" is a curious little 3-minute feature that intercuts various Pollyanna shots with archive 1912 footage and text screens explaining things like activities played and clothes worn. It's quick, hyperactive, and not terribly informative, but interesting, anyway.

Lost Treasure: Walt Disney Introductions Concept Art from the Production Archive A Day in the Life of an Actress

Each Vault Disney title contains a "Lost Treasure" that makes its debut on DVD or has rarely been seen before. With Pollyanna, the Lost Treasure is a set of Walt Disney introductions (7 minutes) for the film's 1963 television debut. They had never been seen since their original airdate and are a welcome addition to this set.

Following is the "Pollyanna Production Archive" which contains a great deal of supplements, starting with the galleries. The galleries contain production stills (56 stills), concept art (11 stills), costumes (4 stills), storyboards (55 stills), biographies and filmographies for the cast and crew, lobby cards (8 stills), posters (12 stills), merchandise (17 stills), documents (29 stills), and a screenplay excerpt. With the screenplay excerpt, you can read the original screenplay while selecting the corresponding film clip at any time.

"Production Gallery" is a separate 2-minute video reel of the gallery's production stills set to music. This is basically for those who don't wish to press the next button on their remote 56 times.

Trailers and TV Spots (6 minutes) presents the theatrical trailer and a TV spot back-to-back. The theatrical trailer is amazingly spoiler-filled and quite long, which makes watching slightly tedious.

"A Day in the Life of an Actress" is a 5-minute interview with Nancy Olson who discusses what a usual production day on the set of Pollyanna was like for her.

Preserving Pollyanna The Pollyanna Collector Promoting Pollyanna

"Preserving Pollyanna" (11 minutes) is a fascinating interview with film preservationist Steve MacQueen. In this, he details how Pollyanna was restored from its original print to the picture found on this DVD. This featurette runs longer and more in-depth than the usual restoration featurette. The comparisons between the older prints and the new transfer are a treat to watch, and help one appreciate the positive picture quality even more.

"The Pollyanna Collector" is an 11-minute inteview with film historian Stacia Martin. She discusses the various merchandise meant to tie in with the film's release and displays some of these on camera. It's an interesting interview and it's always fun to see just what merchandise is created for the film, especially a film from the '60s.

"Promoting Pollyanna" (6 minutes) contains interviews from film historians Stacia Martin and Les Perkins. Both talk about the ad campaign for the movie's release and how the studio tried to make this appeal specifically for adults.

Within the "Audio Archives," we find radio spots, Sound Studio: The Bazaar, two songs that appeared on the film's records ("Pollyanna" and "Jimmy Bean"), and a story album. With the sound studio, one can choose to view a clip from the bazaar scene with dialogue only, music only, or the final composite of both. While the two songs and story album play, production photos are shown. The story album is rather tedious to sit through because since home video did not exist back then, story albums were the only way to experience films again and again. Due to this, the story album (instead of having new actors like with recent story books), is made up of edited dialogue from the film with a bit of narration by Kevin Corcoran in character as Jimmy Bean.

Disc Two finishes with "The Disney Studio Album: 1960" (5 minutes). This feature is basically a recap of what happened with Disney in that year. We're shown shots from 1960 films, attractions, shorts, and other events. It's a nice way to review a year of Disney history.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Pollyanna is an excellently crafted film that handles its themes and characters wonderfully well. The DVD provides video and audio that are both quite good and an array of supplements that are even better. This two-disc set comes highly recommended and deserves a place in every Disney fan's collection.

More details on the DVD

UltimateDisney.com | Review Index | Old Live Action (Pre-1980) Films Page | Pollyanna in Live Action Countdown

Other '60s Films Reviewed:
The Parent Trap (1961) | The Love Bug (1969)
Monkeys, Go Home! (1967) | Follow Me, Boys! (1966)

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