The oft-filmed Frances Hodgson Burnett novel The Secret Garden was given the usual plush MGM treatment in 1949. Tempestuous orphan girl Mary Lennox (Margaret O'Brien) is sent to live with her reclusive, long-widowed uncle Archibald Craven (Herbert Marshall). The embittered Craven has an invalid son named Colin (Dean Stockwell), with whom the troublesome Mary constantly clashes. Her only real friend is neighbor-boy Dickon (Brian Roper). Things soon change after Mary discovers the key to the Craven household's garden, which has been locked up and neglected since the death of Craven's wife. Through the influence of the Secret Garden, Mary learns to think of others rather than herself, Craven drops his curmudgeonly veneer, and Colin's health slowly but steadily improves. In the tradition of The Wizard of Oz, the sequences taking place in the Secret Garden are lensed in Technicolor.
by Hal Erickson synopsis