The first screen version of the Frances Hodgson Burnett story has O'Brien (in her last film role before she retired, aged 12) as the orphan who transforms the lives of embittered uncle Marshall and his bed-ridden son Stockwell when she starts tending an off-limits garden in the grounds of their country mansion. All is gothic doom and gloom to begin with, Ray June's b/w camerawork streaking the imposing mansion sets with dark shadow, but more and more light intrudes, brightening with master Stockwell's psychological regeneration (disarmingly insightful from a child performer), and culminating in a climactic coup de cinéma when Technicolor proves the very essence of Life itself. MGM's production recalls The Wizard of Oz, but there's some stiffness here and Garland is not eclipsed.
Cast and crew
|Director:||Fred M Wilcox|