Cast & Crew
George Nicholls Jr.
O. P. Heggie
At the turn of the century, Anne Shirley, a precocious, tempermental, red-headed orphan, is sent from an asylum in Nova Scotia to Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert's farm, Green Gables, on Prince Edward Island. Although her quiet brother Matthew takes an immediate liking to the imaginative Anne, stoic Marilla Cuthbert, who had "ordered" a boy, resists her charms and threatens repeatedly to return her to the orphanage. Gradually, however, Anne wins over Marilla and earns a permanent place at Green Gables. Although Anne curses the brightness of her red hair, Gilbert Blythe, a handsome schoolmate, admires it shamelessly during class, and his attentions both please and confuse Anne. From her best friend, Diana Barry, Anne learns that years before, Gilbert's father ran off with Matthew's fiancée, and that since that incident, the entire Blythe family has been condemned by Marilla. After a tempestuous start, the forbidden love affair between Anne and Gilbert blossoms, but as soon as Marilla learns of it, she orders the teenagers to stop seeing each other. Despondent, Gilbert leaves town and Anne is sent off to normal school. Years later, Anne is visited by Diana, who divulges the fact that Matthew is seriously ill with heart trouble. Anne rushes home and finds out that because of her education costs, the Cuthberts cannot afford a medical specialist. Knowing that Gilbert is studying with the specialist whom Matthew needs, Anne goes to see him and begs his help. As a favor to Gilbert, the specialist agrees to treat Matthew, and Marilla, grateful for Gilbert's aid, at last gives in and blesses the young couple.
George Nicholls Jr.
O. P. Heggie
Anne of Green Gables
br> Anne of Green Gables had been an instant classic when it was published in 1908. Mark Twain called Anne "the dearest, most moving and most delightful child since the immortal Alice [in Wonderland]." The story of an orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to people wanting a boy had first been filmed by Famous Players Lasky (later Paramount Studios) in 1919 starring Mary Miles Minter and directed by William Desmond Taylor (the two would make headlines three years later when Taylor was murdered and Minter's mother became the chief suspect).
RKO purchased the film rights to the novel from the publishers L.C. Page & Co., and according to the Lucy Maud Montgomery Research Group, the author did not receive any royalties from either film. RKO sent Montgomery a copy of the script but did not invite her input. Production on the film lasted a mere six weeks from August 7th September 15th. In the cast along with the newly christened "Anne Shirley" was character actor O.P. Heggie as Matthew, Tom Brown as Gilbert and Helen Westley as Marilla. Ann Miller made her film debut as a child extra and five year old June Preston, playing Mrs. Blewett's daughter, later became an internationally famous opera singer.
The original release date for Anne of Green Gables had been set for October, making it a very fast turnaround, but studio heads decided to delay it for a Christmas release, which occurred on December 21st. Reviews were excellent, with Variety singling out Shirley for praise, "Anne of Green Gables is wholesome, sympathetic, romantic and dramatic, packing many a heart-tug and tear-jerk. It will do much to establish Anne Shirley, who has taken her professional nom-de-screen from her character in the L.M. Montgomery classic." Andre Sennwald in his December 22, 1934 New York Times review lauded the film as "magical family entertainment, manufactured with such genuine humanity and feeling and humor that it is equally fascinating for old and young. A gentle and immensely pleasing Arcadian idyll of an orphan girl on Prince Edward's Island, it is certainly the peer of last season's Little Women ." Sennwald went on to state "...her performance is as warm, as honest and as beguiling a piece of acting as Hollywood has offered us all year. With her straw hat and the chin elastic, the twin braids down her back, and the quixotic temperament, she merges into the Anne Shirley of Mrs. Montgomery's novel so perfectly as to create the kind of identity that her change of name suggests."
The author herself did not agree. L.M. Montgomery later wrote, "The whole picture was so entirely different from my vision of the scenes and the people that it did not seem my book at all. [O]n the whole, the picture was a thousand-fold better than the silent film." She may not have been entirely satisfied with the film but to capitalize on its popularity, Montgomery wrote additional books in the series and a sequel Anne of Windy Poplars was filmed in 1940.
Producer: Kenneth Macgowan
Director: George Nicholls, Jr.
Screenplay: Sam Mintz; L.M. Montgomery (novel)
Cinematography: Lucien Andriot
Art Direction: Al Herman, Van Nest Polglase
Film Editing: Arthur Schmidt
Cast: Anne Shirley (Anne Shirley), Tom Brown (Gilbert Blythe), O.P. Heggie (Matthew Cuthbert), Helen Westley (Marilla Cuthbert), Sara Haden (Mrs. Rachel Barry), Murray Kinnell (Mr. Phillips, the teacher), Gertrude Messinger (Diana Barry), Charley Grapewin (Dr. Tatum), Hilda Vaughn (Mrs. Blewett), June Preston (Mrs. Blewett's daughter).
BW-78m. Closed captioning.
by Lorraine LoBianco
L.M. Montgomery and Canadian Culture by Irene Gammel and Elizabeth Epperly
The Internet Movie Database
The L.M. Montgomery Research Group, www.lmmresearch.org
The All Movie Guide, www.allmovie.com
Variety December 1934
The New York Times Film Review: Anne of Green Gables by Andre Sennwald, December 22, 1934.
Anne of Green Gables
The lead actress changed her screen name from Dawn O'Day to Anne Shirley after playing the lead character of the same name in this film.
The movie was scheduled for release on 26 October 1934, but was postponed until the end of November and advertised as a "Thanksgiving" holiday release. Some sources erroneously list the earlier date as the release date.
Although the copyright entry states that the film was based on the "novels" of L. M. Montgomery, only Anne of Green Gables is mentioned in the onscreen credits. According to Daily Variety news items, George Nicholls, Jr. replaced Alfred Santell as director on the project. Santell reportedly left the production after RKO executives refused to allow him to shoot on location in Santa Cruz, insisting that he use process background shots instead. The film was scheduled to open on October 26, 1934, but its premiere was postponed until the end of November, at which time it was touted as a "Thanksgiving" holiday release. As a publicity gimmick, actress Dawn O'Day, who made her starring debut in this film, changed her professional name to match that of the title character. Shirley retained the name permanently and played the "Anne Shirley" part again in RKO's 1940 sequel Anne of Windy Poplars (see below listing). In 1919 Realart Pictures made the first film version of Montgomery's novel, which was directed by William Desmond Taylor and starred Mary Miles Minter (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.0116). In 1985 and 1986, Kevin Sullivan directed and Megan Fellows and Colleen Dewhurst starred in two popular public television mini-series adapted from the "Anne of Green Gables" novels.