A girl is sent to live with her uncle on his estate when her parents die. There she discovers much intrigue, family history and secrets and personal baggage. In particular, a screaming child and...a secret garden.
When cholera takes the parents of Mary Lennox, she is shipped from India to England to live with her Uncle Craven. Archibald Craven's house is dark and drafty, with over 100 rooms built on the edge of the moors. Mary finds that her Uncle does not wish to see her, which is fine with Mary as she herself is rude and spoiled. While walking the gardens the next day, Mary notices that there is a area in the garden surrounded with a high stone wall and no doorway. Dickon, brother of a housemaid, tells her of the garden behind the wall. By the path, the raven unearths the hidden key so that Mary and Dickon are able to enter the walled garden to find it overgrown and neglected. Inside the house, she finds that Archibald has a son named Colin, who is crippled and as spoiled as she. Together these three work to make the secret garden their own world.Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Though a noteworthy MGM adaptation of the acclaimed 1909 childhood tale by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this film, complete with three Technicolor sequences, failed to garner a contemporary New York Times review. See more »
In the opening title sequence of the movie, someone unlocks the door to the Secret Garden, and pushes it open, inward from the right side. In the rest of the movie, the door opens inward from the left. See more »
This is a movie I never tire of seeing. Margaret O'Brien is just about perfect in the part of Mary Lennox, an orphan who finds herself in a house full of strange people.
Along the way she finds love in friendship, a love that was never shown to her by her parents.
The book on which this film is based by Frances Hodgson Burnett, was my favourite book as a child and I've given many copies to children over the years. This movie is quite a perfect replica of the book, apart from the injection of a totally unnecessary "crime" element. The characters are multi-dimensional, a wounded father flailing against the world and projecting illness on to his son. The son, Colin, played by a very young and handsome Dean Stockwell, in turn reacting with tantrums and hate to the world around him.
Mary has her own issues, feeling ugly and unloved due to her past in India.
Unhappiness reigns in the Manor House headed up by Herbert Marshall playing Colin's father - a brilliant performance.
There is a teeming cast of well known names to add to the flavour of the film: Dame Gladys Cooper as the housekeeper; Elsa Lanchester as the maid; Reginald Owen as the mysterious gardener.
The black and white filming adds a morbid darkness with the colour sequences in the garden contrasting beautifully.
The only flaw was the settish nature of the scenes, even the gardens are "back lot".
But these quibbles aside, some movies one can get immersed in afresh with each viewing. This is one that takes you in and doesn't let up till the final very satisfying frame.
9 out of 10.
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