Summer Magic (1963) starring Hayley Mills, Burl Ives, Dorothy McGuire, Deborah Walley, Una Merkel, Eddie Hodges, Michael J. Pollard, Peter Brown directed by James Neilson Movie Review

Summer Magic (1963)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Hayley Mills in Summer Magic (1963)

Summer Lovin'

Following the death of her husband Margaret Carey (Dorothy McGuire - Swiss Family Robinson) discovers that their financial situation won't even support them if they moved to a smaller house in Boston. Fortunately her enterprising daughter Nancy (Hayley Mills - The Parent Trap) took it upon herself to write to Osh Popham (Burl Ives - The Big Country) in Beulah, Maine to enquire about a little yellow house they once saw many years earlier whilst passing by. Despite a few fibs about their dire situation Mr. Popham allows them to move in as he is the agent for the properties owner the mysterious Mr. Hamilton. Before long the Carey children become close friends with Popham's children but then prim and proper cousin Julia (Deborah Walley) arrives and becomes a rival to Nancy.

Charm, it is a 5 letter word and it is what "Summer Magic" has in bucket loads. The various locations are all quite charming be it the little yellow house in Beulah or the opening scene which takes us to the rain glistening streets of Boston. The constant use of a moving background when ever someone drives anywhere usually with Digby Popham, played by a young but instantly recognizable Michael J. Pollard, behind the wheel is nostalgically charming. The various musical moments as the Carey family or anyone sings are charming, the scenes of nature are all charming and I could go on and on because "Summer Magic" is simply a charming old fashioned Disney family movie.

Eddie Hodges and Michael J. Pollard in Summer Magic (1963)

Charming is also a word I would use to extend to the performances with Burl Ives making this movie as the wryly clever Osh Popham who displays a wonderful comic tenderness and sings the memorable "The Ugly Bug Ball". And Dorothy McGuire is such a wholesome mother figure who oozes kindness and beauty. But of course this is a Hayley Mills movie who delivers a completely typical Hayley Mills performance as Nancy; awfully nice, awfully enthusiastic, awfully good hearted and if you are a fan of young Hayley Mills awfully entertaining as well.

But the one thing which whilst charming is a little lacking is the storyline as whilst "Summer Magic" is fun it does struggle from a lack of a solid central storyline. Don't get me wrong as it is still enjoyable with various little amusing episodes but for me it lacks the strength of some of Disney's earlier movies and relies heavily on the acting talents.

What this all boils down to is that "Summer Magic" is very much a movie for those who love the charm of the old Disney movies especially those starring Hayley Mills. But it is a movie which relies more on set pieces and the likeability of its stars to make it work.