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Friday, January 22, 2010

'Anne of Windy Poplars' (1940)

As I am a big fan of the 'Anne' series by L.M.Montgomery I couldn't resist taping Anne of Windy Poplars the other night. It was on very late and the timer on my video machine doesn't work so I had to stay up more than half of the night!

I can see why many 'Anne' fans have written bad reviews of this film. It is incredibly old-fashioned and corny. It is also extremely melodramatic.

In the book Anne, who has recently graduated from university, goes to a small town to teach. Unfortunately, this town is dominated by Pringles who dislike Anne from the start. She finds Jen Pringle, a girl in her class, especially difficult. She also finds a fellow teacher, Katherine, very cold and unfriendly.

The film sticks to the spirit of the book but the story is changed in a few ways. There are several new characters who are rather quaint and irritating, such as the man who stokes the stove at the school, and an old sailor. There is also a rather handsome Pringle, Tony, who becomes keen on Anne. I didn't mind him.

I haven't read the book for a long time and it's somewhat confused in my mind with the 1980's series so I may be wrong. However, the old lady who dominates the Pringles is much nastier in the film I think. This annoyed me. Her role is acted extremely well.

It is obvious that the movie was shot in a studio which was a pity. The series was shot on location and the scenery was beautiful. The sweeping photography showed the vistas of Prince Edward Island to perfection.

In spite of these issues I enjoyed the movie and wish that I could have watched it as a teenager. (I liked corny films much more then!) Anne Shirley, who changed her name because of the character, makes a lovely Anne. She is sweet and brave. Patric Knowles who played Gilbert was a bit stiff. The actress who played Katherine was also excellent.

Now I have to try and get this converted to DVD!

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