The Secret Garden - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Secret Garden Reviews

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½ August 7, 2016
A good version of a sentimental favorite

A young child is sent from a far country to live with a relative in a gloomy old aristocratic pile. But there are dark mysteries concerning both the estate and the relative. In the course of solving them, the child brings a new understanding to both herself and her relative.

From this outline of the story of The Secret Garden, it should be clear how similar it is to the better known book and film Little Lord Fauntleroy. Both are based on the immensely popular 19th century young people's books by British-American author Frances Hodgson Burnett, and both have been the subject of numerous theatrical, film, and television versions. Of the half dozen or so film/tv treatments, many feel that this 1949 version with Margaret O'Brien, Herbert Marshall, Dean Stockwell, and Elsa Lanchester is the best. The acting is very good to excellent, and the atmosphere of the old house with its ruined garden effectively conveyed. The screenplay is co-authored by Robert Ardrey, who later became well known as a popular science author for such works as African Genesis. An interesting feature of the film from a cinematic viewpoint is the sudden switch from black and white to color (as was done famously in The Wizard of Oz) to highlight the happier scenes.

Though the film, like the book, is ostensibly for young people, it's one that can equally be enjoyed by adults. Of course it's sentimental, but this is the type of film where the sentimentality is the whole point: viewers who dislike sentimentality shouldn't be watching it.

The Warner Archive standard DVD is of good quality.
½ June 5, 2015
Wonderful movie.

The story of a girl who 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.

Incredibly engaging and enchanting story. The three kids who form the main characters are quite sweet and the interaction between the three is fantastic.

Add in an air of mystery and some cute and/or funny moments (look out for the goat, fox and raven...) and you have a movie where every moment is a joy to watch.

The whole thing feels like a Rudyard Kipling novel (and I was surprised this wasn't based on a novel of his - India even features in the background story), with a smidgen of Edgar Allan Poe thrown in.

Excellent performance by Margaret O'Brien as Mary. 12-year Dean Stockwell (whom I did not recognise for a moment) and Brian Roper are also great as the two other kids.

The presence of Elsa Lanchaster tells you this is a great movie - she has the golden touch in terms of acting in classics (especially in supporting roles). She puts in a good performance here too.

Great work by a raven in an uncredited role.
January 18, 2015
La mejor de todas las versiones , encantadora pelicula.
February 23, 2014
[Interested: cannot find.]
½ October 3, 2013
An air of spooky, and yet sweet and endearing.
December 6, 2012
I prefer the version from 1993. This one was drab and flat and while the Wizard of Oz like switch to colour in the garden was an inspired touch it ultimately didn't succeed in penetrating to the theme of the celebration of living that makes this such a great story.
½ January 17, 2012
A nice little film with colour in the garden.
½ November 27, 2011
Saw this on TCM. Surprisingly good.
½ November 24, 2011
How is it that I haven't rated this before now? I LOVE this movie in all its cinematic melodrama. I bawl my eyes out every time. Marvelous. Timeless.
½ April 1, 2011
I grew up with the 1993 version, and I always wanted to see the original.
½ December 21, 2010
Great movie. A classic!! I saw this a long time ago and it was great then and will be great now!
July 30, 2010
DT: DER GEHEIME GARTEN
½ February 21, 2010
Though many people may find the child actor's performances to be perhaps- annoying and far too overdramatic at times, for their taste, I really enjoyed the performances from the two children in this movie! I thought Margaret O'Brien, especially, did a great job and found her to be very endearing. All of the other film versions of "The Secret Garden" have never been appealing to me. This has been the only version I have enjoyed. And what a treat we get with the surprise near the end of the film!
January 4, 2010
I really enjoyed this version. I've loved this story since I was very young, and all the actors and actresses did a great job in this one. It was awesome when, towards the end, we get to enter the garden and the screen turns from black and white to beautiful color. It's a pretty fulfilling movie overall.
September 8, 2009
This movie I cannot find to buy on DVD. I don't want to go to Ebay or Amazon and pay $50 for it. Margaret O'Brien please release the rights to make printed copies.
July 11, 2009
La mejor de todas las versiones , encantadora pelicula
April 1, 2009
One of the best movies out there, especially for young girls.
½ March 7, 2009
Why don't they have the 1975 BBC version of this story?
That one is the best in my opinionated opinion.
February 18, 2009
Really enjoyed this version! A perfect film to watch on a rainy day.
January 16, 2009
I love this story since I was a child and this is my favorie version - mostly because of Margaret O'Brien.
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