Young orphan Pollyanna (Hayley Mills) believes life's most difficult problems can always be surmounted by a positive attitude and pragmatism. But when she moves in with her dour aunt (Jane Wyman), she is introduced to a range of disheartened folks who challenge her upbeat outlook. Not to be discouraged, she sets to work spreading hope and good cheer. However, when an inspired doctor (Richard Egan) leads the community in a campaign in opposition to her aunt, Pollyanna's goodwill is strained.
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