Movie Review: The Enchanted Cottage
The Enchanted Cottage is probably one of the best black and white movies you've never seen. Set in 1942 and released in 1945, the film uses the backdrop of WWII to set the stage for a fairy-tale-like story of two ugly ducklings who find love. Even if you don't like fantasy movies, you'll probably like this one. And if you like romantic movies, this is one you won't want to miss.
The beautiful Dorothy McGuire (Gentleman's Agreement, Claudia) plays Laura Pennington, who's considered homely by just about everyone. It's a testament to McGuire's acting skills (with a little credit thrown in for the make-up man) that she pulls off being so unattractive. And speaking of the make-up man, he worked overtime turning Robert Young's (Father Knows Best, Marcus Welby, M.D.) Oliver Bradford into a character who could have been right at home in an episode of The Twilight Zone.
What makes this film so special is its power to evoke emotion. If you've ever been on the outside of anything, you'll feel a kindred spirit with Laura Pennington as she sits in the war-time canteen while everyone dances but her. The same holds true for Oliver Bradford's struggle with his war injury and resulting disfigurement. Young makes you understand just how frustrated his character must be.
The two unfortunates are joined by Herbert Marshall as blind composer and piano player Major John Hillgrove. It's through his metaphorical eyes that we're given clues on how to view the film, and maybe even life itself. When his character explains how he only truly learned to see after he lost his actual sight, you begin to understand the depth of the story.
Hillgrove's blindness isn't the only reference to sight in the movie. In fact, the idea that sight is relative is at the heart of the story. Although they retain their physical sight, Oliver and Laura begin to see each other through new eyes, which is a revelation for both of them. This new vision -- created by love -- is then challenged by the outside world. Oliver and Laura almost succumb to other people's vision of them, but in the end, they decide the only view of life that matters to them is their own.
This movie has not been released on DVD, but it's available on . Also, occasionally American Movie Classics (AMC) plays it, along with an introductory conversation by Robert Osborn and Whoopi Goldberg. Also, if your cable system has On Demand, you might be able to find the movie there. There are also sites where you can watch movies online that occasionally offer it. A surprising number of them even offer free movies! VHS from Amazon.com
Please scroll to the bottom of this page to see more information about The Enchanted Cottage from the Internet Movie Database.
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Click the links below to see more information about cast members.
Dorothy McGuire Laura Pennington
Robert Young Oliver Bradford
Herbert Marshall Major John Hillgrove
Mildred Natwick Mrs. Abigail Minnett
Spring Byington Violet Price
Hillary Brooke Beatrice Alexander
Richard Gaines Frederick "Freddy" Price
Alec Englander Danny "Taxi" Stanton
Robert Clarke Marine Corporal
Eden Nicholas Soldier
Click here for more information on The Enchanted Cottage from the Internet Movie Database.