- Adaptation Displacement: The Disney film is probably more commonly known than the book it was based on. Things such as Nancy having a sweetheart Aunt Polly disapproves of, the town being Harrington Falls and characters such as Angelica and Tilly are inventions of the film. Likewise there was a silent adaptation starring Mary Pickford, as well as a couple of TV adaptations, but if someone says 'the movie', they're usually referring to the Disney one.
- Catharsis Factor:
"You can give everything but love."
- Although the following scene of Aunt Polly sobbing to herself in her room is quite sad, beforehand it is very satisfying to see Edmund Chilton calling her out for the way she controls the town with her false charity - without bothering to show affection to anyone at all.
- The climax the entire film has been building towards; the entire population of Harrington Falls swarming Aunt Polly's house to wish Pollyanna well and let her know just how much she has affected them. Heel Face Turns for Mrs Tarbell, Mr Pendergast and Angelica, Jimmy Bean being Happily Adopted, Nancy and George getting engaged and assuring Pollyanna she's to be their flower girl, and Aunt Polly finally showing her niece the love she deserves. It's known for bringing the happy tears in quick succession.
- Character Rerailment: Some readers find Pollyanna of the book to be too saccharine or plucky when it come to trying to defrost people. Director David Swift sought to downplay some of that - making Pollyanna a shyer girl whose optimism is merely for herself. Hayley Mills also makes the girl Adorkable and slightly more flawed - to make her come across as a more realistic person. This is actually more in line with Eleanor Porter's vision of the heroine - seeing her less as a blindly optimistic saint, but more someone who would "greet the unknown with a cheer."
- Ensemble Dark Horse:
- Fridge Brilliance: It's said that Pollyanna's father was a minister in the British West Indies. She's also seen teaching Nancy the English folk song 'Early One Morning' as they walk to Mrs Snow's in the movie. We can thus assume that Pollyanna's father was English, which would explain her accent. Note that Hayley Mills has a few American pronunciations in her lines, which seems to indicate that she grew up with an English and American parent.
- Fridge Horror: Pollyanna is crippled because she was trying to grab her doll off the roof. It was Mrs Snow who made sure she got the doll in the first place. The look on the poor woman's face at the end as Pollyanna looks away from her suggests she might have heard about it.
- Girl-Show Ghetto: Walt Disney attributed the movie's relatively disappointing performance to the possibility that the title attracted more female moviegoers than male ones. A la The Princess and the Frog's underperformance turning Disney's Rapunzel into Tangled 50 years later, the next movie Hayley Mills did for Walt didn't feature its heroines' names in the title, then ended up making much more money than Pollyanna did.
- Jerkass Woobie: It's hard not to feel sorry for Aunt Polly after Pollyanna's accident. Even before then, she has lost her sister and it's suggested she was never fully right after Edmund left town years ago.Polly: That child lies up there because of me!
- Narm Charm:
- One critic noted that a notoriously saccharine children's book in the hands of "the master of schmaltz" had the potential to be Tastes Like Diabetes - only to turn out "to be his best live action film ever."
- Aunt Polly dramatically letting her hair down after an argument with her former lover should be pure Narm, but in the context it's Polly vainly trying to return to the past (she had worn her hair down when she and Edmund were happier) and demonstrating that she can feel love (showing how much Edmund's words have hurt her) - and it can't be anything but a Tear Jerker.
- One-Scene Wonder: The lady playing the drums during the bazaar in the movie. Before they were shut down, the IMDB Boards had several threads talking about her.
- Retroactive Recognition: Hayley Mills would become more recognisable for The Parent Trap (1961) the very next year.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
- Although the quote from Abraham Lincoln was never said by him, it doesn't stop it being a good lesson; look for the bad in people and you'll find it. But look for the good in them, and you might find it as well. Pollyanna showing kindness to others - even when they didn't show it to her - did help them and herself in the long run.
- A negative mind will never give you a positive life. Bad things will happen to everyone in life - Pollyanna lost both her parents and ended up with an aunt who barely showed her any love - but adopting a positive attitude and facing hardships with optimism will benefit in the long run. Even more powerful by having the film end without confirming whether Pollyanna is able to walk again - as the important lesson is to face her uncertain future with that positive attitude.
- The film has some strong points to make on the nature of false charity; Aunt Polly gives money all the time out of a sense of obligation, as opposed to genuinely wanting to help. It's illustrated that this is just another way of her exerting her influence over people, and asserting her dominance. It's arguably comparable to White Man's Burden.
- Tear Jerker:
"Hope? What that child really needed was love. And that's something I never gave her."
- It's a sobering moment to see Pollyanna snap at Mrs Snow for thinking only about dying all the time. Put yourself in the perspective of this young girl who's lost both her parents, who by all rights should have grown old and lived full lives; to see a fairly healthy old woman with more time thinking of nothing but her own death must be agonizing.
- It's low key but the way Pollyanna is treated when she first arrives in Harrington Falls; no one shows her any kindness and treats her more as an annoyance, all while Pollyanna is desperately trying to make the best of the situation (bear in mind she's here because she's lost her parents and has had to move across continents). It's not until she covers for Nancy that she gets her first friend.
- When Aunt Polly's facade breaks after Edmund has told her "you can give anything but love." It's the only time in the movie we see her cry.
- Not to mention Polly's Heel Realization after the accident. She even calls back to the above line.
- Values Dissonance:
- At one point, Pollyanna says "I think everyone should be married". Granted she's a child, and this is set in the 1900s where the vast majority of the population was expected to get married.
- Aunt Polly disapproving of Nancy and George. Nancy is merely her employee, so the fact that she has to sneak around is quite startling to modern audiences. Then again, Aunt Polly is shown to be excessively controlling, so her quaint attitudes could be seen as this in-universe.note
- Everyone is miserable during Reverend Ford's sermon, to the point that they dread every Sunday because of it. To a modern or atheist viewer, they could simply not go and leave him to it. Even when the film was made in the 60s, questioning the clergy was still a big no-no.
- Values Resonance: As pointed out here, Pollyanna displays a powerful attitude towards facing hardship in the world; not denying negativity or evil as some of her critics would suggest, but choosing to focus on positives and facing the unknown with an optimistic viewpoint. As the world becomes more aware of the power of positivity, kindness and optimism - Pollyanna's messages about how those can help one cope with hardship and tragedy remain relevant.
- Vindicated by History: The Disney film was a modest success, bringing in under $3 million. However it is held up as a classic these days, and Hayley Mills became associated with the character.
- The Woobie:
- Pollyanna herself. She's lost both her parents by the age of twelve, and growing up she never had enough money for luxuries like toys or new clothes. What's more is that she's saddled with an aunt who couldn't give a rat's ass about her (at first anyway). It's hinted that the Glad Game is really the only thing keeping her going.
- There's a case to be made for Millie Snow too. She's forced to put up with her crabby old mother every day. Imagine how she must feel hearing her own mother talk as if were going to die any minute. Although Mrs Snow's When She Smiles moment is Played for Laughs, there is something a little unnerving about the idea that Millie is so shocked at her mother being nice. Especially galling in the movie version, where Mrs. Snow can in fact get out of bed- and does so with ease after Pollyanna's first visit, suggesting she does so regularly. This doesn't stop her from running Millie ragged with various requests and verbal abuse. The book version has her a genuine invalid who remains bedridden through the entire story.
YMMV / Pollyanna (1960)