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Pollyanna (1920)

An orphan's optimistic outlook brings a change to the ill-tempered town in which she resides to her aunt.


Paul Powell


Eleanor H. Porter (based on the book by), Catherine Chisholm Cushing (based on: the 4-act comedy by) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Mary Pickford ... Pollyanna Whittier
Wharton James Wharton James ... Rev. John Whittier (as J. Wharton James)
Katherine Griffith Katherine Griffith ... Aunt Polly
Helen Jerome Eddy ... Nancy Thing
George Berrell ... Old Tom
Howard Ralston Howard Ralston ... Jimmy Bean
William Courtleigh ... John Pendleton
Herbert Prior ... Dr. Chilton


When Pollyanna is orphaned, she is sent to live with her crotchety Aunt Polly. Pollyanna discovers that many of the people in her aunt's New England home town are as ill-tempered as her aunt. But Pollyanna's incurable optimism - exemplified by her "glad game," in which she looks for the bright side of every situation - bring a change to the staid old community. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Family | Comedy | Drama


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Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

18 January 1920 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El ruiseñor del pueblo See more »


Box Office


$300,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Mary Pickford Company See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Of this film, screenwriter Frances Marion said, "We proceeded with the dull routine of making a picture we both thought nauseating . . . I hated writing it, Mary [Mary Pickford] hated playing it." See more »

Alternate Versions

In 1972, the Mary Pickford Co. copyrighted a version with an organ score played played by Gaylord Carter. Produced by Matty Kemp, it runs 60 minutes, about 2 of which is a historical introduction. See more »


Version of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color: Polly (1989) See more »


Rock-a-Bye Baby
Written by Effie I. Canning
Lyrics in an intertitle when Pollyanna sings to her dying father
Played on organ by Gaylord Carter in the alternate version
See more »

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User Reviews

"What are You Crying About? She Isn't Your Aunt!"
11 July 2012 | by HarlowMGMSee all my reviews

POLLYANNA is a charming piece of nostalgia, an era of innocence and gentleness in America that was already fading away when this film was made in 1920. The movie was one of the blockbuster hits of Mary Pickford's career but it's reputation in later decades was slammed even by Mary and screenwriter Frances Marion, I presume because they didn't want the public to think all Pickford films were sticky sentimental, affected and coy as this one was presumed to be as "Pollyanna" became something of a buzz word for those emotions in a more jaded era. That's a shame because the movie holds up very nicely and still has loads of charm and quite a bit of good humor.

Pollyanna's widowed father is dying and after his death she is sent off to live with her stern old maid of aunt, Aunt Polly (Katherine Griffith). Pollyanna's sweet nature gets on Auntie's nerves (inspired by her father, Pollyanna always looks on the bright side of things and finds a reason to be "glad" about every situation) and her rambunctiousness only makes it worse. Pollyanna charms everyone else in town however particularly orphan boy Jimmy (Howard Ralston) who becomes something of a boyfriend.

This movie runs under an hour and frankly could stand for at least another fifteen minutes. There are a number of supporting characters in this film that come in that aren't fully developed (ie: John Pendleton, the rich man who was once in love with Pollyanna's mother or Dr. Chelton, who was Aunt Polly's beau in her youth) but the movie is so expertly done one can hardly complain. Mary Pickford is absolutely sensational in this movie, always appealing, often funny and moving. She was 27 at the time this was made but utterly believable as a twelve-year-old. Matching her performance is splendid work done by young Howard Ralston (then 15 but looking a few years younger) as Jimmy and the excellent character actress Katherine Griffith as cross Aunt Polly (who, having to have something good to say about her, Pollyanna comes up with "I'm glad she's not twins!"). Miss Griffith passed away just one year after the movie was made and Howard Ralston made only a handful of films after this, all apparently in minor roles and most of them lost now. This movie is a testament to their talent as much as it is Mary's. If you are open to spending a hour in old-fashioned sentiment, you could hardly find a better vehicle than POLLYANNA.

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