For Reel

The Enchanted Cottage (1945)
March 18, 2014, 12:09 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: John Cromwell
3.5 Stars
The Enchanted CottageArthur Wing Pinero’s 1923 play on which this film is based was originally written as a spiriting morale booster for disabled troops returning from the war. It is fitting, then, that its second adaptation would come to audiences early in 1945, when again soldiers were facing a similar crisis. The story concerns a pair of outcast lovers–she, a homely maid riddled with insecurity (Dorothy McGuire); he, a veteran who becomes suicidal when he returns disfigured (Robert Young). Together, in the cottage of the title, the two come to find love and see the true beauty of their partner. Although Pinero had his heart in the right place, the story is problematic–he wants the audience to be glad that these self-hating individuals have found each other because only together can they feel beautiful. It says nothing about overcoming one’s own self-doubts, rather being entirely dependent on a partner for a sense of self-worth. Regardless, the production is an impressive one–Roy Webb contributes a haunting score, and Ted Tetzlaff’s cinematography evokes the eerie atmosphere of a cottage which may or may not be magical. It is through him that the setting becomes a character–watch, for instance, the transformation scene in which the camera (in soft focus) pans in a circle around McGuire as she sits on the piano bench. Not only does the movement evoke the change that is occurring, it places the cottage itself as a sort of voyeur that coexists with and even directs the two lovers.

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