The Secret Garden (1949 film)

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For other uses, see Secret Garden (disambiguation).
The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden FilmPoster.jpeg
1970 re-release poster
Directed by Fred M. Wilcox
Produced by Clarence Brown
Screenplay by Robert Ardrey
Based on The Secret Garden
1910 novel
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Starring Margaret O'Brien
Herbert Marshall
Dean Stockwell
Music by Bronislau Kaper (composer)
André Previn (direction/supervision)
Cinematography Ray June
Edited by Robert J. Kern
Distributed by Loew's Inc.
Release date
  • April 30, 1949 (1949-04-30)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,432,000[1]
Box office $993,000[1]

The Secret Garden is a 1949 US drama film.[2][3] It is the second screen adaptation of the classic 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett (the first adaption was a silent version filmed in 1919) which starred Lila Lee and Spottiswoode Aitken. The screenplay by Robert Ardrey was directed by Fred M. Wilcox. It centers on a young orphan who is thrust into the dark and mysterious lives of her widowed uncle and his crippled son when she comes to live with them in their isolated country house in Yorkshire, England. A 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame TV film, The Secret Garden starred Gennie James and Jadrien Steele. A later adaptation The Secret Garden was made starring Kate Maberly and Heydon Prowse.

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture was filmed primarily in black-and-white, with the sequences set in the restored garden of the title filmed in Technicolor. The movie was Margaret O'Brien's final film for MGM.


When tempestuous Mary Lennox (Margaret O'Brien), born in India to wealthy parents, is orphaned by a cholera epidemic, she is sent to live with her reclusive and embittered Uncle Archibald Craven (Herbert Marshall) and her ill-behaved, bedridden cousin Colin (Dean Stockwell) at their desolate and decaying estate known as Misselthwaite Manor. Dickon (Brian Roper), the brother of one of the house maids, tells her of a garden secreted behind a hidden door in a vine-covered wall. When a raven unearths the key, the two enter and discover the garden is overgrown from neglect since Craven's wife died there in an accident. They decide to keep their discovery a secret, and begin to restore it to its original grandeur. Under the influence of the Secret Garden, Mary becomes less self-absorbed, Colin's health steadily improves, and Archibald's curmudgeonly personality fades away.



According to MGM records the film earned $610,000 in the US and Canada and $383,000 overseas resulting in a loss of $848,000.[1]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Variety film review; April 27, 1949, page 11.
  3. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; April 23, 1949, page 66.

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