Last modified on July 18, 2023, at 21:29

Pollyanna (1960 film)

Pollyanna (1960)
Directed by David Swift
Produced by David Swift
Walt Disney
Written by David Swift
Starring Jane Wyman
Richard Egan
Karl Malden
Nancy Olson
Adolphe Menjou
Donald Crisp
Agnes Moorehead
Kevin Corcoran
Hayley Mills
Music by Paul J. Smith
Editing by Frank Gross
Distributed by Buena Vistas Pictures Distribution
Release date(s) May 19, 1960
Running time 134 min.
Country USA
Language English
Budget $2.5 million
Gross revenue $3.75 million

Pollyanna was a live-action Disney film based on Eleanor Porter’s 1913 novel of the same name. It was the second career role for British actress Hayley Mills, and her first of six films for Disney. It shows small town Americana in a positive light, where the people are Christians, and promotes the ‘happy texts’ in the Bible.


Pollyanna Whittier is an orphaned teenage girl whose parents were missionaries in the British West Indies which is the film’s explanation on why Pollyanna has a British accent. She now lives with her wealthy Aunt, Polly Harrington who is the de facto leader of the town (Harrington, Maryland) due to her massive wealth. We see her journey throughout her time there, and her happy attitude has an affect on the citizens of the town, where the introverted Mr. Pendergast and Mrs. Snow (who wishes for her death) are happy again, and help out at the Bazaar to raise money for a new orphanage to Polly’s disapproval due to her wanting to preserve the old one. After Pollyanna wins a dolly which she wanted for many years, she drops it on her way up the tree to her room, she tries to grab it, but she falls three stories, and gets paralyzed from the waist down. She then gets depressed, which according to Polly’s ex-boyfriend Dr. Edmond Chilton could impact her surgery in a bad way. Pollyanna then sees for herself her impact on the town, and gets happy again.



After buying the rights to the book, Walt Disney brought in the studio’s biggest cast since 1954’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. All he needed was the girl to play the title character. He had a lot of auditions, but one of his advisers told him that he needs to go to England to see Tiger Bay because the young girl’s acting skills are incredible. After that, he hired Hayley Mills, and even brought in her father Sir John Mills to be in Swiss Family Robinson.

The film was written and directed by former animator David Swift, who made some changes to the book due to him finding Pollyanna “Too positive.” According to Swift, when he saw the finished product with Walt, he cried when Pollyanna said America the Beautiful, and at the end. Swift suggested to edit the film more, to which Walt forbid him working on the film again due to him finding it perfect.


The film opens up on a nude boy swinging on a rope into a water hole with other nude boys. Back in 1960, boys swimming nude was common practice, and even more so in 1912, but the scene was regarded as unnecessary. According to Swift, they gave the boy a bike for the scene.

There’s a scene toward the end of the second act where Pollyanna walks in on Reverend Paul Ford practicing for his Sunday sermon, to give him a letter from Polly Harrington. She tells him that her father was a minister, and that his style was different from his. One of the things he lived by was a quote from Abraham Lincoln “When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will.”[1] She also tells him that they’re 800 happy texts in the Bible, which Ford admits he didn’t know. Due to that, his plan for the sermon is completely changed, and he says the Church will host the Bazaar.
  1. Lincoln never said this. It was written by David Swift, which resulted in a memo sent to Roy O. Disney about the film’s merchandise.