August 27, 2012 by Heidi
I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who has specific movies they simple must watch every year around a certain time. Sure, we all do so around the holidays, but what about the rest of the year? I have one movie that I watch every summer without fail, and that, my friends, is Summer Magic.
Summer Magic is the charming musical classic from 1963 starring Haley Mills and Burl Ives. It tells the story of the Carey family who, after losing their father, discover that he was talked into making some bad investments prior to his death. As a result, the family is rather destitute, and must move out of their big house in the fine city of Boston, give up their servants and way of life for something new. Nancy (Haley Mills) has just the plan.
When considering a time when her family was happiest, Nancy remembers a trip they took to the country in Maine. In particular, she remembers a gorgeous big yellow house where they peeked in the windows. Nancy takes it upon herself to write the post master of Beulah, Maine, who informs her that not only is the house unoccupied, its owner, Mr. Hamilton, would be happy to let it to her family that is in such dire need. The post master, Osh Popham (Burl Ives), is a dear friend of Mr. Hamilton whose affairs he manages while Hamilton is living in China.
Popham welcomes the Carey family to Beulah with open arms, helping them fix up the house and acting as a go-between between Mr. Hamilton and the heartfelt gratitude of Nancy and her family. Of course, we, as the viewers know something the Careys don’t, and that is that Osh Popham has no such permissions from Mr. Hamilton who remains completely in the dark over the use of his home. Osh’s wife, Mariah (Una Merkel who you may know from The Parent Trap as the one continually saying “I don’t say a word, I don’t say a word!”) wants to say all sorts of words of harsh truth to the Careys, but Osh somehow keeps wriggling her out of it.
Meanwhile, Julia, the Carey’s cousin, must come stay with them, which the children all dread. Julia has lived a somewhat spoiled life, and as a result is very snobbish and haughty (she thinks she’s the pink of perfection), but also lacks the tight knit family that the Careys have. Jealousies arise between Nancy and Julia, namely over the new school teacher who’s just out of college, Charles Bryant.
It’s no surprise, that eventually the whole charade snowballs and Mr. Hamilton shows up at the big yellow house in person. But is he the “Yellow Peril” that Nancy fears, come to snatch the yellow house away?
Summer Magic is, without a doubt, my favorite Haley Mills movie. Sure, I love The Parent Trap, In Search of the Castaways, Moon-Spinners, Pollyanna, and That Darn Cat, but Summer Magic is the only film I must watch every summer without fail. You’ll also likely recognize the lovely Dorothy McGuire who plays Nancy’s mother—she was also the mother in the classics Swiss Family Robinson and Old Yeller.
Summer Magic is a breath of fresh country air, and watching it makes me pine for the country with the smell of alfalfa growing in the fields and stars unlike anything you’ll ever see near a city. It’s full of charm and delight in that classic way that can’t really be captured in films today.
Not to mention, I never would have caught myself a man if it weren’t for the sage advice presented in Summer Magic:
So, if this summer you find yourself a bit bored and in need of some good wholesome family fun, a bit of music, and a touch of magic, look no further than Summer Magic.