If you say Anne of Green Gables movie today most people immediately think of the 1985 Kevin Sullivan production (starring Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Farnsworth, and Jonathan Crombie), but that was far from Anne’s first foray on screen. That honor goes to a production back in 1919. The current owners of the Bala Museum (a summer hotel where Montgomery stayed during 1922 and inspiration for one of my favorites of her books, The Blue Castle) have taken an interest in this 1919 movie. They have tracked down information about it and stills and even identified the house (clearly not the Green Gables house in Prince Edward Island) that was used as Green Gables in the movie. They’ve done their best to recreate the experience of seeing this movie.
The house that was used as Green Gables in the 1919 movie is still a museum (not because of its use in the movie) today.
You can also listen to some of the music from the production. At the time music wasn’t recorded, but sheet music of numbers to be included was sent along with the film. Silent film organists also had to do quite a bit of improvisation to keep up with what was happening on screen.
Now they’ve put a little bit of the program online.
Although there were many different productions done internationally over the years, the other movie version which deserves a quick mention was the 1934 production (available on DVD) whose lead actress was so taken by the story she changed her name to Anne Shirley and is credited as such not only in this movie but in her later films including Barbara Stanwyck’s Stella Dallas for which she was nominated for an Oscar in 1937. Born Dawn Evelyeen Paris she had several marriages and left her professional acting career behind in the mid-1940s. She died of lung cancer in 1993.
UPDATE 2014: Listen to my interview with the owners of the Bala Museum:
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.