On Sunday, my wife Carol got me to watch a movie I had somehow missed in my childhood. I watched almost all of the Disney canon, from Old Yeller to Darbie O’Gill & the Little People (w/ Sean Connery!), from The Shaggy Dog to The Parent Trap. Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, The Love Bug… not to mention all the classic animated films.
But I had never seen Pollyanna.
And having missed it as a child, as young teen and adult, I had already dismissed it as, well, Pollyannish, and the notion never again crossed my mind. Which was my loss.
It is easy to dismiss so much of the Disney vault as pure syrup. And as the years went by, I think perhaps that the studio indeed fell into formula. But there can be no question that so many of those early films, crafted elegantly and masterfully, had a tremendous impact on the morals and ultimately the hopeful outlook of an entire generation (mine, the Boomers). There was ALWAYS an essence of goodness, and it was juxtaposed against self-centered meanness, with an element of danger (and fear). Good had to be more than merely “good”, it had to have the power to overcome adversity.
The movie Pollyanna was the quintessence of that combination of elements. I confess to being moved and touched. The film spoke past my adult cynicism and reached back to resonate with the child I hope we all keep safely stored away, ready to rise strong.
The Glad Game, on the face of it, does seem hopelessly “Pollyannaesque”. But in its essence it holds a great truth, one that we should all wake up to every morning: If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.
Pollyanna and Anne Frank both believed something that is very, very hard to see: people are good at heart.
There are of course, some beings that look like people but probably are not. But let’s not discuss politics this today.
© 2017 Chuck Puckett