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Little Nellie Kelly (1940)

Passed | | Comedy, Family, Musical | 22 November 1940 (USA)
Irish colleen Nellie is in love with handsome Jerry Kelly, even though her father objects. Nellie and Jerry soon marry and announce plans to move to New York, which again angers Nellie's ... See full summary »



(screen play), (based upon: the musical comedy written by)
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Complete credited cast:
Jerry Kelly
Michael Noonan
Douglas McPhail ...
Dennis Fogarty
Timothy Fogarty
Rita Page ...
Mary Fogarty
Sergeant McGowan
George Watts ...


Irish colleen Nellie is in love with handsome Jerry Kelly, even though her father objects. Nellie and Jerry soon marry and announce plans to move to New York, which again angers Nellie's father. Still, fear of never seeing his daughter again convinces the old man to also head to the States. In New York, Jerry becomes a policeman, although fighting crime seems to be easier than fighting with his father-in-law. Tragedy strikes when Nellie dies in childbirth. Jerry and the meddling old man continue to live together and have constant battles over how to raise young Nellie, who grows up to look exactly like her mother. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Geo. M. Cohan's Great Broadway Show! See more »


Comedy | Family | Musical


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 November 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flickan hela da'n  »

Box Office


$665,300 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was on completed on a budget of $665,000. "Little Nellie Kelly" achieved a total of $2,046,000 in it's first release. See more »


Michael 'Mike' Noonan: A clay pipe is a great blessing to a man. When you drop it you don't have pick it up.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Judy Garland (1962) See more »


Singin' In The Rain
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by Arthur Freed
Sung by Judy Garland (uncredited) in both a straight and swing version at the Waldorf Astoria
Played also as dance music at the Waldorf
See more »

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User Reviews

Charles Winninger's character pretty much ruins the film--and it's a shame, since Garland is so good.
25 March 2014 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

When the film begins, Nellie (Judy Garland) is living with her father, Michael (Charles Winninger), in Ireland. Inexplicably, Michael is against Nellie marrying Jerry Kelly (George Murphy)--and the reason for this is never explained in the film. Soon after Jerry and Nellie marry, they head to America--and Michael follows (even though he vowed never to leave Ireland). Then, Michael moves in with them--though this makes no sense. Michael refuses to talk to Jerry and is a nasty old b--, I mean, 'jerk'.

Later, Nellie dies during childbirth--and still Michael won't talk to Jerry---yet he continues to live with him! The child, also called Nellie, grows up to be...Judy Garland!! Yes, Judy plays both her mother and daughter--a bad Hollywood cliché. And, during all this time, STILL Michael won't talk to Jerry--yet is allowed to live with them. Considering all the divisiveness caused by Michael, the film made no sense--Jerry SHOULD have thrown the old jerk out long ago. Oh, and did I mention that Michael refuses to get a job and doesn't work for decades?! Overall, he's a terribly written and completely unsympathetic character who seemed to take pleasure in ruining his daughter's and granddaughter's lives. He really needed to be written better--a serious weakness in the film AND people in the film shouldn't have put up with his abusiveness. He should have been written as a lovable grouch--instead he comes off as a nasty creep who you want to see get hit by a bus or beaten to death by all the people this nightmare of a character insults during the course of the film!!!

It's a shame because Winninger's boorish character completely overpowers Garland's nice performance. At only 18, she is very poised--especially when playing the mother. And, while I didn't love the song selection, she did a great job. This film didn't seem to hurt her career any--but it SHOULD have been a much better showcase for her amazing talents, not a showcase for poor writing and a hateful character.

By the way, although it didn't hurt the film any, George Murphy's Irish accent was amazingly absent. With a name like Murphy, you'd have thought he could have done better. Additionally, on a sad note, Judy's love interest later in the film, Dennis (Douglas McPhail), killed himself just a few years after making this picture. He had an incredible voice.

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