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Little Nellie Kelly (1940)

Passed  -  Comedy | Family | Musical  -  22 November 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 306 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 4 critic

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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Title: Little Nellie Kelly (1940)

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Director: Paul Donovan
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Complete credited cast:
Nellie Kelly / Little Nellie Kelly
Jerry Kelly
Charles Winninger ...
Michael Noonan
Douglas McPhail ...
Dennis Fogarty
Arthur Shields ...
Timothy Fogarty
Rita Page ...
Mary Fogarty
Forrester Harvey ...
James Burke ...
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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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?


This movie contains the only dying scene Judy Garland ever did onscreen. 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 »


Featured in That's Entertainment! (1974) See more »


A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow
Music Adapted by Roger Edens
Lyrics by Roger Edens
Played during the opening credits
Sung by Judy Garland after Jerry proposes
Played on piano and sung by her (as Little Nellie Kelly)
Reprised again by Judy Garland in a swing version
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

It's A Great Day For The Irish
6 August 2009 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

I have to confess some disappointment in Little Nellie Kelly. Not that I was disappointed with the performances of Judy Garland and the rest of the cast. But I was actually hoping to see an adaption of some kind of George M. Cohan's musical comedy that ran 276 performances during the 1922-23 season on Broadway. But other than the title song and another number, this is not what ran on Broadway at the time. Pity because I would like to have seen just what a George M. Cohan musical comedy was all about. Other than the straight drama/mystery Seven Keys To Baldpate none of Cohan's work was ever brought to the sound screen.

I'm surprised that this film is not run as often as The Quiet Man in and around St. Patrick's Day every year. The story has Judy Garland playing a mother and daughter. Mother marries George Murphy over in Ireland to the distress of her father Charles Winninger. After all of them emigrate to America, Judy dies giving birth to Judy. So the young girl is raised by her father and maternal grandfather.

Which wasn't easy to do because Winninger and Murphy quarrel rather stupidly and don't speak to each other even though they're living in the same household. If it wasn't for the fact that Winninger is helping to raise Garland his granddaughter by staying at home, Murphy would have and should have thrown him out years ago. Winninger is just plain allergic to work.

In the scenes he's in Winninger's a lovable loafer and really steals everything he's in. Barry Fitzgerald must not have been available though his brother Arthur Shields is in the film as the father of Douglas MacPhail that the younger Garland falls for. Winninger is playing a part Barry would normally have been cast in. He and Garland clicked so well that they were cast as father and daughter again in Ziegfeld Girl the following year.

The soundtrack is an odd mix of Cohan's songs, Irish ditties, and some new numbers and for Judy, a revival of Singing In The Rain which producer Arthur Freed coincidentally enough wrote the lyrics for. However her best number is with Douglas MacPhail, It's A Great Day For The Irish which she made a Decca record of as a solo backed by The Wearing Of The Green. It's a more modern version of the same type of song as MacNamara's Band.

Judy's worldwide legion of fans will love Little Nellie Kelly. Still it might have been nice to have one of George M. Cohan's musicals done in some fashion.

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