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  Directed by
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  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Spanish, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Animated menus
  • Documentaries

Pollyanna

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 129 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

This 'Walt Disney Family Collection' edition of Pollyanna is bereft of the myriad special features which made the Region 1 'Vault Disney' release so special.

But if you're only after the movie, then this edition might suffice. The quality of the movie transfer is identical to the deluxe 'Vault Disney' release - you're just not getting the amazing features packaged with the American release.

Pollyanna of 1960 was Hayley Mills' introduction to the Disney studios. She had made just one film before this, the British black and white minor masterpiece Tiger Bay. And in that outing, she stole the movie from her co-star, her dad John Mills.

Hayley was perfectly cast as Pollyanna. You must know the story, everyone knows the story! She's the little orphan girl whose missionary parents have died. She's sent to live with her spinsterish lemon-drop Aunt Polly (Jane Wyman). And, before too long, Aunt Polly, the servants, the local vicar, the entire goldarn village (goldarn is the strongest word you can use in a review of Pollyanna) has fallen under her spell.

Pollyanna incessantly plays her 'Glad Game'. No matter what calamity might befall her, she finds something in her circumstances to be glad about. Broken your back? Be glad you didn't break your neck as well. Drunk some strychnine? Just be glad it wasn't mixed with arsenic. That's how it goes.

It sounds totally cloying and sickening. But the deft direction of David Swift and the amazingly down-to-earth, very natural acting of Hayley Mills make it just one of the most satisfying family movies ever made. It teeters on the tightrope of the totally bathetic, but a grand balancing act is displayed by all. It's just totally lovely.

The support cast is very strong. Jane Wyman is wholly believable as Aunt Polly, who is intent on denying her continuing love for her beau of years earlier, Doctor Chilton (Richard Egan). She's also intent on keeping on ruling 'her' village with a rod of iron.

Karl Malden is totally believable as the town's vicar, and Nancy Olson is also consummately cast as the housemaid. Adolphe Menjou is just perfect as the grouchy old man in the old house atop of the hill. Agnes Moorehead as the bedridden old harridan is, well, Agnes Moorehead can't help but be perfect in everything she does.

If, like me, you watched this with your children, then you'll enjoy watching it again, and marvel at how its perfect joy is undimmed. This is just one of the great family movies, if not the greatest. Hayley Mills won a special Juvenile Oscar for this performance - it was totally merited. I think (but could be wrong) that the only other Juvenile Oscar awarded before this went to Margaret O'Brien for her sensational performance as Tootie in Meet Me in St. Louis some 16 years earlier.

If it's not the absolute best family movie ever made, then it's certainly right up on top of the peak, along with the two best versions of The Secret Garden (the best being the 1993 version with Kate Maberly and the 1949 version with Margaret O'Brien), The Wizard of Oz, The Princess Bride and The Never-Ending Story.

And I guess we've got to find room somewhere too for the amazing 5000 Fingers of Dr T. And, of course for the 'made for television' Anne of Green Gables...

Enough, enough. I better quickly watch something really advanced, intelligent, even cerebral. It's time for Starship Troopers, I think.

  Video
Contract

This is a consummate transfer; an anamorphic transfer at a 1.78:1 ratio. Colours just glow and the contrasts and shadow-detail are immaculate.

The condition is pretty amazing considering that, on a documentary accompanying the Region 1 edition, it's revealed that, by accident, one of the three colour separation strips for this Techincolor movie was totally lost. Two strips of the same colour were stored instead of the third strip - a simple case of mislabelling.

The film had to be restored from a mix of elements, some distorted and stretched. This was truly a case of saving a masterpiece which was on the verge of being lost. It does sound as if it ranks with the amazing restoration Robert Harris and company performed on the classic musical My Fair Lady to save that wonderful movie from the celluloid junkyard.

Be assured, until a superior high-definition source comes along to replace DVDs, this will be the absolute best condition in which you will ever see Pollyanna. Colours are slightly muted in the lovely relatively subdued palette of the time; this film glows rather than shouts its brilliance at you.

  Audio
Contract

The sound, expanded to Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, is really still the basic mono sound dressed up for a little bit of additional ambience and warmth.

It has good strength and very low levels of hiss or any other sort of distortion. Dialogue is always clear, while the background music is reproduced with a good natural frequency spread.

  Extras
Contract

The 'making-of' documentary, almost 30 minutes long, is entitled Pollyanna: Making of a Masterpiece. You may as well watch it a few times over, because that's the only extra feature you're going to get in this almost-bare-bones Region 4 edition.

It beats me why Buena Vista offers these threadbare editions here, while the same company loads its American issues with goodies galore.

The two-disc 'Vault Disney' edition in Region 1 gives on the first disc a great audio commentary with Hayley Mills and director David Swift, and an original cartoon from the period, Nifty Nineties.

There are just too many special features on the second disc to list. But as well as Pollyanna: Making of a Masterpiece, we get more than a score more extra features, including one of the best visual descriptions I've ever seen of the special Technicolor three-strip colour process. And the menu animation, as we descend into the Disney Vaults to grab our special features, is a sight to behold.

  Overall  
Contract

Every family should have a copy of Pollyanna. It should be made obligatory.

The only question is: Are you going to shell out your hard-earned for this threadbare edition, or will you hold out in hopes that Buena Vista release a two-disc 'Special Edition' in a couple of years, forcing you to shell out all over again? It's your call...


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      And I quote...
    "This is bereft of the myriad special features which made the Region 1 release so special. But at least we're getting one of the greatest family movies ever committed to celluloid."
    - Anthony Clarke
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Panasonic A330
    • TV:
          Loewe Profil Plus 3272 68cm
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