An Eastern Westerner (1920), Pollyanna (1920) + Brussels Jazz Orchestra

An Eastern Westerner
Director: Hal Roach
Writer: Frank Terry, H.M. Walker
Cast: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Noah Young

Director: Paul Powell
Writer: Frances Marion
Based on: Eleanor H. Porter‘s novel
Cast: Mary Pickford, Wharton James, Katherine Griffith, Helen Jerome Eddy, George Berrell, Howard Ralston, William Courtleigh, Herbert Prior

Both part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by the Brussels Jazz Orchestra
Seen on: 24.3.2019

Content Note: ableism

In An Eastern Westerner, a boy (Harold Lloyd) gets sent from New York to the Wild West because his parents have had it with his partying. But there is space enough to get into trouble in the Wild West as well.
In Pollyanna, orphaned Pollyanna (Mary Pickford) goes to live with her grumpy Aunt Polly (Katherine Griffith). Pollyanna relentless optimism slowly transforms Polly and all the other people around her.

I found An Eastern Westerner very entertaining and Pollyanna suffocating in its ableism and make-your-own-fate mentality. The music for both was not my cup of tea.

Both film posters next to each other. An Eastern Westerner's simply shows Harold Lloyd laughing. Pollyanna's shows Pollyanna (Mary Pickford) talking to Jimmy (Howard Ralston).

An Eastern Westerner is the first film with Harold Lloyd that I saw and I really liked it and him. The highlight for me came right in the beginning at the dance palace, but there was generally great slapstick to be had. It’s a pity that the film is only 20 minutes long, but I’d watch it again in a second.

Pollyanna on the other hand was really exhausting for me. I knew a little about the story beforehand, so I had an inkling of what I was in for, but the sheer intensity of everything really was unexpected and not appreciated. Disability is used more than once in the most blatant ways: as inspiration for the ableds to be glad with what they have; as a lesson taught; as a thing to be overcome. It made me want to retch.

The boy (Harold Lloyd) at a party, a girl clutching his arm.

Plus, the entire “your life is what you make of it”, “just stay positive”, “if you believe in it strongly enough, it will happen” mentality (that stikes me as quintessentially USAmerican) just annoys, if not infuriates me because it’s so obviously untrue. In short, it’s a good thing that the film is just about an hour long, because I don’t think I could have taken any more of it.

The Brussels Jazz Orchestra played the music for both films and let me just say that jazz generally isn’t my thing. I find that it’s either exhausting because it’s so complicated, or it is so bland it becomes muzak. In this case, it was the latter. There were a couple of moments, but overall it was rather meh.

Pollyanna (Mary Pickford) visiting a sick woman.

Summarizing: let’s focus on Harold Lloyd and forget the rest.

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