TCM’s Treasures from the Disney Vault returns for its summer lineup of programming on Friday, June 2nd, with two different themes. The first is Hayley Mills at the turn of the century. Mills was Disney’s biggest movie star in the first half of the 1960’s and we’ve already seen her most iconic role(s) playing separated twins Sharron and Susan in The Parent Trap almost one year ago on Treasures from the Disney Vault. Tonight we experience her career-defining role as the insatiably happy Pollyanna, as well as a charming Sherman Brothers musical that fittingly kicks off this early summer lineup, Summer Magic.
The second theme is equestrians with a classic Mickey Mouse short and four TV productions concerning horses. As an animal lover, Disney made no shortage of horse films and the entire evening could have easily been devoted to this topic. Sadly, we won’t see some of the more memorable offerings, such as Tonka or The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit, but living up to the title of the programming block, many of these are fetched from deep within the Disney Vault. Leonard Maltin is sure to have lots of valuable insight into these films as well as an explanation for their selection.
8:00 pm – Summer Magic (1963)
If you feel like you just walked under the train station and are entering Main Street, U.S.A., there are probably two reasons for it. The first is because Summer Magic takes place at the turn of the century. The second is that Magic Kingdom’s Main Street is peppered with references to this film via signage throughout its many shops. The songs, written by the legendary Sherman Brothers, are also part of the continuous music loop found on Main Street. Classics such as “Flitterin’,” “Beautiful Beaulah,” and the title track “Summer Magic” will all be memorable melodies to anyone who has logged more than a few hours waiting for parades or fireworks in a Disney park. And anyone who grew up in the era of Disney Sing-Along Songs VHS tapes will be familiar with “The Ugly Bug Ball” (They just didn’t realize it was from something!).
Summer Magic is based on the novel Mother Carey’s Chickens by Kate Douglas, whose other works inspired the MGM classic Meet Me in St. Louis. Hayley Mills leads this cast, which also includes Dorothy McQuire (Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson) and Burl Ives (So Dear to My Heart for Disney, plus a legendary singer and star of classics such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and East of Eden). After losing their father, the Carey family moves from Boston to a small country town based on a lie the eldest daughter (Mills) told them. Full of charm, humor, and wonderful songs, if you haven't seen Summer Magic you're in for a treat!
Recommendation: This is one of my favorite Disney films and one of the few live action musicals in the canon. ‘Summer Magic’ is a treat for the soul and is not to be missed.
10:00 pm – Pollyanna (1960)
The star film of the evening is without a doubt Pollyanna. It's a one-of-a-kind motion picture that is capable of lifting the spirits of even the gloomiest gulch in the audience. Like Summer Magic, this film is set right around the turn of the century. It's hard to believe that this was only Hayley Mills' second film, but it's easy to see why it made her an overnight success, leading to a series of classics that include The Parent Trap and That Darn Cat!.
Pollyanna is a high spirited orphan who is taken in by her wealthy aunt, a stone cold heiress played by Jane Wyman. Pollyanna's infectious nature warms the hearts of everyone she meets, from her aunt's hired help (Nancy Olson) to an orphan boy (Kevin Corcoran) and even the citizens, including a memorable role by Agnes Morehead. But can Pollyanna warm the heart of her stern aunt?
Recommendation: If you're only going to tune in to one program tonight, make sure it's 'Pollyanna.' It's one of the finest films in the Disney Vault.
12:30 am – Mickey’s Polo Team (1936)
The only animated portion of the evening kicks off a nearly six-hour salute to horses. It's also a perfect fit for TCM, as the stands and game are full of celebrities of the era, including Shirley Temple and the Marx Brothers, as well as Disney characters like the Three Little pigs, Big Bad Wolf, and Max Hare. Where else can you see Clarabelle Cow flirting with Clark Gable?
It’s interesting to note that Walt Disney played polo on a celebrity league, which was obviously the inspiration behind this short. However, a few years after its release, Walt suffered an injury that forced him to stop playing. It went improperly treated and resulted in a painful calcium deposit in his neck which studio personnel would blame for days when the boss was in a less than friendly mood.
Recommendation: As with the first two films, 'Mickey's Polo Team' is a must-see for both Disney fans and film buffs.
The night is still young, to see what other equestrian fun Disney has in store, proceed to the next page.