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|Anne of Windy Poplars|
|Directed by||Jack Hively|
|Based on||Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery|
|Produced by||Cliff Reid|
|Music by||Roy Webb|
Anne of Windy Poplars is a 1940 film based on the novel of the same name by Lucy Maud Montgomery. A sequel to the 1934 film Anne of Green Gables, it features Anne Shirley (previously billed as Dawn O'Day) returning from the first film in the title role. It can still be viewed on websites, although it is not available in DVD.
Anne Shirley arrives in the town of Pringleton, where she has taken a job as vice-principal of the local school until her marriage to Gilbert Blythe. At the train station, Mrs. Stephen Pringle tells Anne that she cannot board with her as expected. Left to fend for herself, Anne is offered a ride by the school janitor Jabez Monkman. He takes her around town hoping to find boarding with the one of the other Pringle families, but they all turn her down. She eventually finds a place to live at a lovely house called Windy Poplars, which reminds her of Green Gables. The house is owned by Kate, her brother Matey, and their housekeeper Rebecca. Anne learns that Hester Pringle, the bitter old widow of Pringleton's founder, is the one blackballing her in town. She also meets Betty Grayson, an orphaned girl who lives next door with her cruel aunt Ernestine Pringle, and who changes her name depending on how she feels.
Meanwhile at Maplehurst, the grim mansion across the bay where Hester Pringle lives, the determined matriarch gathers the Pringles to discuss how to remove Anne from her job. Tony Pringle wants nothing to do with it and leaves. Hester reveals that she wants her adopted daughter Catherine to have Anne's position, despite Catherine's assertion that she would rather continue teaching. When she finds out Anne is living at Windy Poplars, Hester is furious. At school, Jabez warns Anne about Hester's intention to make her quit her job. Anne meets with the principal, Mr. Gibson, who explains that she will teach a first-year English class, direct the Dramatic Club, and instruct girls' gymnastics, in addition to vice-principal duties. Anne finds teaching difficult on account of Jen Pringle, a strong-willed student who does what she pleases and is a bad influence on the other students.
Jabez reveals to Anne that he eavesdrops on conversations through the school's air vents, and they use it to find out what Jen is up to. Anne goes to her classroom and finds a caricature of her on the board. She compliments Jen on her "drawing", and asks if she would like to decorate the blackboards for Halloween. When Jen asks how she knew who drew on the board, Anne claims to be psychic, which she expounds by repeating what she heard Jen say through the air vent: "After today she won't dare to even scold me!". Jen is shocked and the class agrees from then on to only have happy thoughts. Anne also tries to be friends with Catherine Pringle, but Catherine brushes her off and claims Anne hates all the Pringles.
Anne talks with Betty Grayson, who says she prays for "Tomorrow" to arrive so her parents will come and take her away, but her aunt tells her tomorrow never comes. Back at Windy Poplars, Matey shows Anne a log book from his days of sailing with Captain Isaac Pringle, the founder of Pringleton and Hester's late husband. Anne realizes that the diary is the reason Hester fears the residents of Windy Poplars, as it shows that Isaac was a smuggler and pirate. She takes the diaries to Maplehurst, where Hester plays innocent about turning the town against her, and claims that Anne spoils Jen. Anne insists she could make the Pringles like her if they gave her a chance and storms off. Hester is astounded when Anne leaves the log book behind, remarking it is the one thing that would have beaten them.
Anne runs into Tony Pringle, who insists that she would get along with Catherine, but Anne does not know why Catherine dislikes her. Tony deduces that it is because she received the dramatic society, a job which Catherine loved. Anne speaks to Catherine at school and requests her help with producing a play for Christmas. Catherine is reluctant but suggests that they do Cinderella, and Anne picks Jen to play the lead. She later tells Betty all about the show. Betty is fascinated because it sounds just like her own life and she has never seen a play before. Anne convinces Ernestine to let her take Betty to the show. Gilbert shows up at Windy Poplars with presents and takes Kate, Matey, and Rebecca to the school while Anne goes to get Betty. She finds out that Betty is sick, but Ernestine believes it to be a tantrum and refuses to call a doctor. Anne puts Betty to bed and promises to visit in the morning and tell her all about the play.
Tony shows up at the school and tells Catherine that there will be no play because Hester says that Jen is sick. They both know that Hester is really doing this out of spite, so Catherine leaves to get Jen, who is locked in Catherine's room at Maplehurst. Hester is being treated for a heart condition but she ignores the doctor's orders and throws her medication away. The doctor lets Catherine sneaks upstairs, where she takes Jen's place in the bedroom. Meanwhile, Anne discovers that Ernestine has left Betty alone and rushes off to see her. Jen arrives and the play goes on successfully. At the same time, Gilbert diagnoses Betty with pneumonia, so Anne tries to boost the girl's spirits by acting out the entire show just for her. The effort pays off and Betty's fever breaks.
Meanwhile, Hester finds Catherine in Jen's place. Outraged, she locks Catherine in the room before suffering a heart attack and falling down the stairs. She drops a lantern which sets the house ablaze. Anne and the others hurry to Maplehurst, where Tony runs into the house and rescues Catherine. With no way to put out the fire, the residents of Pringleton watch in silence as Maplehurst burns with Hester's body inside.
In the spring, a picnic brings the town together the day before Anne and Gilbert's wedding. Anne and Gilbert tell Betty that "Tomorrow" has come because they plan to adopt her. She is overjoyed that her parents have finally arrived and now she can be "Betty", her happy name, forever.
- Anne Shirley as Anne Shirley
- James Ellison as Tony Pringle
- Henry Travers as Matey
- Patric Knowles as Gilbert Blythe
- Slim Summerville as Jabez Monkman
- Elizabeth Patterson as Rebecca
- Louise Campbell as Catherine Pringle
- Joan Carroll as Betty Grayson
- Katharine Alexander as Ernestine Pringle
- Minnie Dupree as Kate
- Alma Kruger as Mrs. Stephen Pringle
- Marcia Mae Jones as Jen Pringle
- Ethel Griffies as Hester Pringle
- Clara Blandick as Mrs. Morton Pringle
- Gilbert Emery as Stephen Pringle
- Wright Kramer as Morton Pringle
- Jackie Moran as Boy
- George Meader as Mr. Gibson (uncredited)
- Nora Cecil as Miss Blecker (uncredited)
- Ruth Dietrich as Miss Burke (uncredited)
- Granville Bates as Dr. Walton (uncredited)
- Lew Kelly as Mr. Slocum (uncredited)
The film recorded a loss of $176,000.
- Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p149
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