Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Disney's "Summer Magic" Just Right

Cleveland Press August 2, 1963

The Walt Disney mint has coined another money maker in "Summer Magic," a pleasant, unpretentious picture overlaid with sentiment and nostalgia an inch thick.

This is neither an epic nor a milestone in cinema history but a good family picture with plenty of entertainment values.

The picture is based on Kate Douglas Wiggin's book of many years ago, "Mother Carey's Chickens." From it Sally Benson -- "Junior Miss" and "Meet Me In St. Louis" -- has fashioned a happy script that fits the Disney formula.

A Boston widow (Dorothy McGuire) of reduced circumstances finds a home for herself and her three youngsters in a big old house in Maine. The place is made available to them through the kindness of the village postmaster and keeper of the general store (Burl Ives).

There are complications, but none of them tragic. The real owner of the house, off in another country, doesn't know the family is living there. A stuck-up cousin (Deborah Walley) moves in on the family. The youngest boy (Jimmy Mathers) sports a Buster Brown haircut that doesn't endear him to the village lads. And so on.

Disney's cast is uniformly good with Burl Ives and Hayley Mills, as the eldest child, standing out.

Miss Mills is a pixie of a lass with a wonderfully expressive face. Ives, every inch of him, is all geniality. Dorothy McGuire is an appealing mother, Eddie Hodges a talented kid brother -- one, happily, not cast in the nasty vein.

The songs by Richard and Robert Sherman fit nicely into the proceedings. One clever number that should appeal especially to the youngster is Ives' rendition of 'Ugly Bug Ball," which makes use of some Disney nature footage devoted to insects. The title tune, too, is pleasant affair.

The film is played out against a Technicolored Maine setting that is eye-appealing.

Ultra sophisticates and misanthropes may not enjoy "Summer Magic." Everyone else will.