Sunday, November 18, 2012

Silent Sundays: Pollyanna (1920)

Throughout her career Mary Pickford played girls who were much younger than she actually was. In the teens she was in her twenties playing little girls. Even into the twenties she was playing sassy bright happy little girls. Today an actress who looks like she could play a twelve year old could never pull it off. Pickford pulled off playing young girls because she looked like one. She was short, had long curls, and had a small face with these wide childlike eyes. I have seen several of Pickford’s films and her playing these types of characters does not get boring. Pollyanna was one of her films where she plays a cute little girl with a big heart.
            Pollyanna had been living in the Ozark all her life with her father. Her father has died and left her with an aunt named Polly in a small town in New England. Pollyanna had a big heart and plays a game called the Glad Game. No matter what happens in her life there is always a reason for her to be glad. Not even the rainy windy weather upon her arrive brings her happiness down. The moment Aunt Polly sees Pollyanna she is a mean old lady mad at her niece for getting her all wet and tracking mud through the house.
            As the movie progresses we see Pollyanna bringing light into the town. She befriends a boy named Jimmy Bean who is also an orphan. Pollyanna tries to get her aunt to adopt him but Polly only sees him as a dirty little boy who belongs outside. Pollyanna also meets a man who the boys are afraid of. Mr. Pendleton- as the title card explains- was once in love with a girl who married a man and went off to live in the Ozarks. Pollyanna was picking apple on his property and Mr. Pendleton helped her to get down. He was yelling at her bit and then is shocked when he looks into her eyes and recognizes them as his lost love’s. Pollyanna is brought into his house and Jimmy storms in thinking Mr. Pendleton is doing something mean to her.
            There are more cute stories like this throughout the film. Think of the stories in Amélie and how she helped Nino and the people in the building and that is what Pollyanna is like.
            Pollyanna I have to say has been one of my favorite silent films I have seen since starting Silent Sundays. Lately I have been feeling a little sad and anxious and Pollyanna was perfect I had such a great time watching it. Some scenes were really funny. Mary Pickford was excellent. I can see her appeal and why she played little girls for so long she was so good at that part. I have to admit it was odd to see that her love interest was an actual kid. You can tell she was an adult around actual kids so that was a bit weird even though their relationship was just a friendship. As I mentioned at the beginning I have seen several of Mary Pickford’s films but not enough to say what her best is. But if I were to ever teach a film class Pollyanna would be the Mary Pickford film I would show to the class.

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