cast: Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Patricia Hamilton, Schuyler Grant, Jonathan Crombie
Our rating: 5 out of 5
reviewed by: Charity Bishop
Anne Shirley has changed over the years,but underneath she is still the same redheaded little firebird and her personality is not exempt in this second installment of the Anne trilogy by Sullivan Entertainment. The film opens with Anne teaching school in Avonlea. She is particularly good at beguiling students into punishments without their parents' knowledge of their crimes and takes a particular shine to Minnie May, whose life she saved as a child. Her friendship has been temporarily restored with that of Gilbert Blithe and she entrusts him with a secret -- that she is attempting to have a book published. But though her never-ending tussles with editors and uninterested parties, Diana announces a surprise of her own -- she is getting married to "Rolly Polly Fred Wright." Anne is devastated but resigns herself to the fact that they must one day grow up and be married. In the meantime her story is sent back, rejected, and Diana alters it and sends it into a magazine contest.
Soon Anne is "plastered with a Baking Powder advertisement" when her story wins first prize. The reward is a hundred dollars! But after Diana's marriage, Anne is restless and decides to accept the advice of her good friend Miss Stacy and take a position at a school in Kingston -- the Ladies College. She enters with the fondest hopes for an uneventful school year but immediately begins to make enemies. The girls are unruly and mean-hearted, the only "kindred spirit" in the batch young Emeline whose father is Morgan Harris an extremely wealthy playboy aristocrat.
The school principle, Catherine, seems to clash heads with Anne time and time again as she attempts to draw the girls together. In the meantime, Emeline is expelled for helping in one of Anne's adventures and her tyrannical grandmother draws her from school completely. Feeling that the girl has been mistreated, Anne seeks out Mrs. Harris and asks if she might tutor the girl. In doing so, she once again comes into contact with Morgan Harris. This is my favorite of the Anne films, probably because Anne has grown from the hot-tempered little girl into a polished heroine with romantic prospects. The film is very complex and fun while managing to retain the overall feeling of Montgomery's work. Megan Follows has found her niche well in Anne and the audience is delighted with the little glimpses of the orphan girl that still remain inside. It's a lot of fun to watch Anne butter up, argue with, and somehow manage to get in her jabs.
It ranges from a romp through a muddy cabbage field (in a white dress, no less) to the stuffy halls of the Ladies' College. It has quips, romantic overtones, a few sad moments and will touch your heart. The costuming is gorgeous, the music memorable, the scenes well filmed in the stunning Canadian countryside. The characters' lives consistently change from Rachael's tragic loss of her husband to Annie unraveling the mystery of what happened to Morgan's wife. She befriends not only Emeline and many other Pringle girls at the school but somehow manages to crack Catherine's hard shell as well and even warm cold Mrs. Harris' heart. There's little -- if anything -- to be concerned about content-wise. Morgan Harris is guessed as something of a playboy but this is merely speculation on the part of the viewer. The characters manage to insult each other without ever calling one another anything worse than a "redheaded little snippet." All in all it's very well thought-out and excellently-acted feature film and more than deserves its many awards.