Home » Long Live the Colored Race!, The Black Version

The Black Version: It was Pollyanna, We Do It Like Polly!

27 July 2007 8 Comments

I’ve realized that the underlying purpose of this blog is going to have to be cataloguing the minutia of black pop culture, which is long overdue. Therefore, I’m starting this new feature, “The Black Version.” If you haven’t seen “the black version” of certain things you need to catch up. Period.

is the black version of Pollyanna, and is inherently and legitimately SO much more entertaining than anything Haley Mills could ever manage. First of all, Keisha Knight-Pulliam as Polly, Phylicia Rashad as her aunt, and half of the black actors that you have ever heard of in supporting roles – including Brandon Quintin Adams, T.K. Carter, Brock Peters, and Butterfly “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!” McQueen from Gone With The Wind. This is TRUE black entertainment and makes me so proud…the singing, the dancing, the drama…my family watched this movie so many times that after like 20 years I still know every word in this clip and am smiling so hard I can barely take it. Polly is not available on original DVD (although the inferior sequel, Polly: Comin’ Home! is), but most of the musical dance numbers are on YouTube in shabby VCR quality to give you a taste (check out “Angel Eyes” because it was a toss up between that clip and this one). This is one of the better “black versions” because it doesn’t just substitute black faces for white, it actually creates a new story relevant to black folks based on an old premise. After all, isn’t that what black folk (non-immigrants) are to America (all immigrants) anyway? If you have a soul at all this clip will at least make you clap!

The context of this clip is that the church was all fire and brimstone until Polly came to town and made everyone bust out all jubilant – check for the dance moves, the old lady on the piano, that Hedebrink sister with the fan, and singer Ashanti as a dancer at 0:28! Warning: this video loads slowly.


  • hottnikz said:

    I didn’t watch the video, but I think from your descriptions that I saw this movie before. I think it was a made for TV movie.

  • Nancy said:

    I so miss white gloves at church…and frilly dresses…and claire’s evil eye when she’s displeased…oh wait, one of these things was never actually reality…I LOVE YOU THEMBI AND CANNOT WAIT FOR MORE “the black version”! You are making my job as passer-on of great moments in black history to my hubby much easier!

  • Julia_Claudine_Deveraux said:

    Several people have asked me if I knew whether or not Polly was available on DVD. I remembered watching it when the film came on tv but was not as memorable in my mind as it had been to others who saw it. I tracked a vhs copy of it and was like “wow”. It was a great film and I too cannot understand why its not on DVD.

  • Thembi said:

    Nancy, thank you for mentioning passing great moments in black history (aside from the whole peanuts and traffic lights deal) to your husband, debunking the belief that people in intercultural relationships somehow abandon the colored race. Marvelous, darling.

  • Dara said:

    this movie did more than entertain me…it made me feel like i could somehow one day be as dope and inspirational as little polly…it gave me my first crush (oh jimmy bean, how your s-curl shines)…and it continues to influence my love of the twirly dress to this day.

    bravo, thembi. BRAVO.
    *drops a tear*

  • Shanna said:

    If I’m not mistaken this was a Disney production and it was a made for tv movie. I loved every minute of it. Black musical loveliness to rival “The Wiz”.

  • jazzfan360 said:

    My white friends make funna me hardcore for my undying Polly love. I in turn make fun of them for their fierce defense of the original white version. Now, I love me some original recipe Parent Trap, but Haley Mills and old-school Pollyanna can’t do nothin for me.

    The Polly movies aren’t necessarily all that well written (and Phylicia was severely underused in both of them and Keshia should never have been allowed to sing) but they’re wonderful. And such great talent all over the place! All those wonderful black actors, AND they found room for white Oscar nominees Celeste Holm and Anthony Newley. If only they could worked in a role for Diahann Carroll and a sassy town strumpet for Jackee or Loretta Devine (who back thin was much thinner and playing those type of roles) we woulda REALLY been in business. Barbara Montgomery, the great Ken Page, and that dude playin the henpecked hubby with the holy ghost (George Tarbell, I think??) need their own Obscure Actor entries lol (and look, there’s Vickilyn Reynolds playin his wife).

    Good pick. “Stand Up” is some MAJOR good times. Dorian Harewood’s from my hometown, met him a couple years ago. Nice guy…shorter than I expected, though. Wish there was a vid on Youtube of that awesome “Hotlanta” number from the sequel. Larry Riley sure had some voice…RIP for REAL.

  • Obscure Black C-Listers: Dorian Harewood | What Would Thembi Do? said:

    […] Owens onscreen, in 1984’s “The Jesse Owens Story,” but he also starred in the WWTD favorite Polly – the black version of Disney’s Pollyanna.  He played the patient but passionate Dr. […]

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