19 December 2014 | utgard14
"God sit on your pillow."
Three crusty old bachelors (Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Lewis Stone) are among the most successful men in town but have no loved ones. One day they are approached by the granddaughter (Margaret O'Brien) of the woman who rejected them in their youth. The little Irish girl, now an orphan, tells them her grandmother's last wish was for her to come live with them. The three old cranks reject her but then realize that her name is on the deed to some property they want. So they reluctantly take her and her manservant (Thomas Mitchell) in. But they find she won't give up the property easily because she believes a tree on the property is home to fairies and leprechauns.
When I first saw this movie listed on TCM's lineup I was hesitant to get too excited. Despite having a phenomenal cast, it's not a well-known film and it appears to have mixed reviews from critics, professional and otherwise. This made me concerned that it would be a disappointment. Well it wasn't! This is a charming, fantastical little film with lots of humor and heart. The cast is perfect. Margaret O'Brien brings all of the adorable tools in her little bag out here. She hits all her comedy notes right without overplaying it and is her usual melodramatic self with the weepy stuff. She could be an over-actor, no doubt, but so was Bette Davis and everybody loves her for it. She has wonderful chemistry with all of the older actors, especially the terrific Thomas Mitchell. For their parts, the three lead actors are all great. It might amuse some fans of their respective MGM series that Barrymore plays a cantankerous doctor (as he did in the Kildare movies) and Stone plays a judge (as he did in the Hardy series). In addition, there is wonderful support from Harry Davenport (wearing Yoda ears), Jane Darwell, Charles Dingle, Ray Collins, and Henry O'Neill. Also Cyd Charisse appears briefly near the beginning.
Other reviewers have complained that the movie should not have included the fantasy elements. They say that the simple story of the little girl melting the hearts of the old men would have been good enough. I can see where it would still be a fine film without the leprechauns but I fail to see how the addition of these things hurts the film. To me, it adds an extra bit of charm. Unless you're an old fusspot who likes everything grounded in reality as much as depressingly possible, then I don't really get the beef. You're either going to welcome a movie like this with open arms on its terms or your not. If not, you'll probably be put off by just about everything in this because it's very sentimental and delightfully corny.