46 user 15 critic

The Secret Garden (1949)

Approved | | Drama, Family | 22 July 1949 (Brazil)
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.


Fred M. Wilcox


Robert Ardrey (screenplay), Frances Hodgson Burnett (novel)




Complete credited cast:
Margaret O'Brien ... Mary Lennox
Herbert Marshall ... Archibald Craven
Dean Stockwell ... Colin Craven
Gladys Cooper ... Mrs. Medlock
Elsa Lanchester ... Martha
Brian Roper ... Dickon
Reginald Owen ... Ben Weatherstaff
Aubrey Mather ... Dr. Griddlestone
George Zucco ... Dr. Fortescue
Lowell Gilmore ... British Officer
Billy Bevan ... Barney
Dennis Hoey ... Mr. Pitcher
Matthew Boulton ... Mr. Bromley (as Mathew Boulton)
Isobel Elsom ... Governess
Norma Varden ... Nurse


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 <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Family


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


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 »


Mary Lennox: I'll play with you some other time. I have to meet Dickon.
Colin Craven: Who's Dickon?
Mary Lennox: A boy I know.
Colin Craven: I don't like him!
Mary Lennox: You don't like anything.
Colin Craven: Yes, I do. I want you to stay here and play with me.
See more »


Followed by The Secret Garden (1975) See more »


Hindoo Song of Love
Written by Lal Chand Mehra
Performed by Margaret O'Brien with singing voice provided by Marni Nixon.
See more »

User Reviews

A classic!
21 March 2008 | by wisewebwomanSee all my reviews

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.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 46 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »






Release Date:

22 July 1949 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

The Secret Garden See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Black and White (Sepiatone)| Color (Technicolor) (some sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed