There are several moments when Mary (Margaret O'Brien) refers to her servant in India. When watching the film, one hears the word "servant," but Mary's mouth is clearly forming the word "Aya" as in other versions of The Secret Garden.
Though a noteworthy MGM adaptation of the acclaimed 1909 childhood tale by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this film, complete with three Technicolor sequences, failed to garner a contemporary New York Times review.
In this film, Manchester-born George Zucco, the slimy mad doctor or smooth-talking villain of so many horror and mystery films - Prof. Moriarty in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939); Charlie Chan in Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938); The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939); The Mummy's Hand (1940); The Mummy's Tomb (1942); The Mad Ghoul (1943); Voodoo Man (1944); etc. - has one of his few sympathetic roles as the kindly Dr. Fortescue.
The movie inspired a short-lived television series in 1952, with Brian Roper reprising his role as Dickon. The series (which was broadcast live) is believed to be lost.
Dickon is supposed to be around the same age as Mary and Colin (10 years old), but the actor who portrayed him, Brian Roper, was about 20 years old at the time of filming. Margaret O'Brien and Dean Stockwell were also a few years older than the characters they played in the movie.
The song that Mary Lennox is singing when she is discovered by the British officer (who tells her that her parents are dead) is the love song sung in "The Rains Came," when Tyrone Power is showing Myrna Loy around an Indian school; when he is falling in love with her. It also haunts him the moment before he is escorted to his coronation.
British writer Noel Streatfeild (1895-1986), author of children's classic "Ballet Shoes", was on an extended vacation to California in 1947 and spent several weeks observing the filming of the movie, paying especial attention to the younger actors. In a magazine serial in 1948 and then as a book the following year, she published "The Painted Garden" (US: "Movie Shoes"). It concerns an English girl who reluctantly has to spend the summer in the States where she is spotted as a potential lead for an adaptation of "The Secret Garden", describing the process of film-making from a child's perspective.