It wouldn’t be summer without some magic…


August 27, 2012 by Heidi

Summer Magic Movie Poster

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.

The big yellow house from Summer Magic

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.Nancy, Charles, and Julia in Summer Magic

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?

Haley Mills as Nancy Carey in Summer Magic

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.


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  1. VeganYANerds says:

    I’ve never heard of this but it sounds wonderful! I don’t like many musicals these days but I like older ones (like Annie and Oliver) so I am definitely going to watch this. Also, love the video at the end!

  2. I do so love this movie and I couldn’t even begin to count how many times I’ve watched it. Thanks for the reminder. Have you seen The Trouble with Angels? It’s another wonderful Hayley Mills movie.

    • Heidi says:

      OMG I know I saw it as a child, but haven’t seen it in probably 20 years! I forgot how many films of hers I’d loved so much until I went to write this post, I may have to go on a crazy Haley Mills watching spree. I’ll admit though, I still get angry every time I go to put on the Parent Trap and it’s never her version–they don’t even have it on Netflix!

  3. Angiegirl says:

    Lol. This is one of the movies of my childhood! Love it. The yellow peril . . . hahaha.

  4. Jac @ For Love and Books says:

    I love Haley Mills! So how have I never heard of this?? I think I’m going to have to hunt for it and have my kidlet watch with me!!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

    • Heidi says:

      Yes! Please do. I feel like this is one of her lesser known ones, but considering some of the others in it (like Burl Ives), I’m surprised it never got bigger. It’s wonderful, and perfect to watch with your daughter!

  5. I really need to watch this movie again, it’s been years! Funnily enough, I just watched THE PARENT TRAP and POLLYANNA again a couple of months ago. I think every little girl wanted to be Hayley Mills at some point, right? 😉

    My go-to summer movies: REAR WINDOW, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, 12 ANGRY MEN. For some reason if I’m sweaty, I like to see other people sweating, too. 😀

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • Heidi says:

      Yes! I know I certainly wanted to be Haley Mills! I love that you just rewatched those yourself. I wish they were all easier to track down.

      LOVE Rear Window and 12 Angry Men, though I’ll admit I’ve never watched Streetcar (for shame). I like the idea of watching people sweat…do you want people freeze in the winter? Some Jack London adaptations perhaps? 😛

  6. April Books & Wine says:

    HALEY MILLS! Ahh! I love her version of The Parent Trap (let’s get together yeah yeah yeah). I have not seen Summer Magic but now, my new goal is to watch it at some point in the near future. CUZ OMG THE PINK DRESS IN THAT PICTURE! Ah! Dresses!

  7. miaka1977j says:

    Oh my goodness! I wandered over here from the Books Take You Places blog and this sold me! This is one of my favorite movies from childhood and that song (Femininity) gets stuck in my head from time to time. I haven’t seen it in years! Thanks for bringing it back to the forefront for me!

    • Heidi says:

      You’re welcome! I loved this movie as a kid too, and maybe it’s mostly nostalgia, but for me it’s still totally worth watching! I may or may not have been singing Femininity in the shower for weeks. 😛

  8. […] up on self hosted.  Yay!  Here’s what you may have missed in the past couple of weeks: It wouldn’t be summer without some magic…my loving thoughts on Summer Magic The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelly Moore Thomas The Native Star by M.K. Hobson With Bated Breath: […]

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