The Enchanted Cottage (1945)

Article #708 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-21-2003
Posting Date: 7-21-2003
Directed by John Cromwell
Featuring Dorothy McGuire, Robert Young, Herbert Marshall

A plain young woman takes a job at an old cottage once set aside for newlyweds, and there encounters a man who is bitter and lonely due to his having been disfigured and maimed in the war.

The fantastic premise in this movie is that the cottage is enchanted by the spirits of all the lovers who have lived there during the years, and at one point in the story it causes transformations in the main characters. It is a movie well-loved by many; as for me, I’ve loathed the movie for many years in my inimitable curmudgeonly fashion, and I looked forward to watching it again as I would look forward to my next root canal. Nevertheless, I have to admit that I didn’t hate it this time; like it or not, it touches a few chords thematically, and it is well acted and has some lovely scenery. But I still do consider it highly problematic; I find it artificial, precious, obvious and contrived, with characters whose functions are so blatantly symbolic that they never take on a life of their own as real living, breathing people. Consequently, I can see the manipulative strings being pulled at every step of the way, and that’s enough to make me keep my distance. I suspect that romantics and love story enthusiasts will find this a lot more compelling than I do; me, I was actually just happy to scratch this one off my list and replace it with a Francis, the talking mule movie.

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