The Enchanted Cottage (1945)
Reviewed on 2011 February 17
I am not a fan of romance movies or chick flicks, because a lot of them are silly or superficial, or the women appear to come from another planet than mine (yeah, you, Bride Wars). This thing, old and a relic from another time, still makes my eyes tear up a bit. You kind of get the gist of it from the trailer, but you know what? That doesn’t really spoil watching it.
Oliver Bradford (Robert Young) is a good looking soldier engaged to a blonde, fluffy piece of arm candy. He’s too busy enjoying this happy period of his life and his own awesomeness to pay much attention to Laura (Dorothy McGuire), a quiet plain woman working at the cottage he wants to rent for their honeymoon. Laura just needs a little hairspray, a trip to Ulta, and some confidence, but the way people react to the poor thing you’d think she’s a female version of the Geico cavemen. Oliver is called to war, the day before the wedding no less, and he comes back home wounded, including scars on his face.
Again, he’s not bad looking, but for our purposes here everyone around him freaks out. Oliver’s fiancee has the depth of a mud puddle, and can’t deal with what happened to her man. Looking at the situation with modern eyes we see the guy dodged a bullet, but of course it’s hard to swallow on top of everything else that happened to him, and he’s very bitter. Laura gradually grows closer to him, and the two recluses agree to marry, just to keep each other company. Little do they know that the cottage is more than just a pretty, romantic place.
This was based on a stage play written for the World War I vet. coming home and struggling with life in a body altered by war. There are some things that were contrived about this: the cold way the people reacted to Oliver and Laura was jarring, and I’d like to put my foot up the fiancée’s backside for being so shallow, but someone like that isn’t worth wasting a perfectly good Harley boot. In the age of Jersey Shore and screaming bridezillas, I always thought that people were kinder back then, or at least pretended to be polite, and some of the stuff they had to listen to, especially Laura, was incredible. But Young and McGuire are the movie here, and are wonderful to watch. If you want a laugh, try watching the silent version, where Oliver’s nemesis looks like Snidely Whiplash.
Four chocolate morsels. It’s saccharine, dated, almost achingly sweet, and perfect for Valentine’s Day.