The Enchanted Cottage
Cast & Crew
At a party, while waiting for the arrival of Laura and Oliver Bradford, blind pianist John Hillgrove plays a tone poem titled "The Enchanted Cottage," which he wrote in their honor, and relates their story to his assembled guests: In the nearby countryside, a great estate lies in ruins, the main house razed by a fire. Only one wing survived the flames, and legend has it that the original owner, an English nobleman, remodeled the wing and has begun to rent it out as a romantic hideaway for honeymooners. Intrigued by the legend, Hillgrove asks his young nephew Danny to guide him to the cottage. There he meets the current owner, an aloof widow named Abigail Minnett. The music of romance eludes Hillgrove, however, until one day, Laura Pennington, a homely young woman, arrives at the cottage to apply for a job as housekeeper. Lonely following the death of her mother and ostracized because of her appearance, Laura falls under the cottage's spell. Mrs. Minnett, devastated by the death of her husband during World War I, feels a kinship with the girl and hires her to work as a maid for the engaged couple who have just rented the cottage. Soon after, the couple, Oliver Bradford and his fiancée, Beatrice Alexander, arrive. Beatrice is disappointed by the cottage's simplicity, but Laura assures her that the place is enchanted and shows her the window on which lovers throughout the ages have etched their names. When Oliver starts to etch Beatrice's name using her engagement ring, the stone falls out of its setting, creating a sense of forboding. Oliver, a pilot, is called to war before he can be wed, and soon after, Beatrice cancels their lease. One year later, a telegram comes from Oliver, stating his intention to rent the cottage for an indefinite period of time. Expecting to greet the newlyweds, Laura is shocked when Oliver arrives alone, his face horribly disfigured and his arm disabled from an airplane crash. Soon after, Oliver's shallow mother, Violet Price, his stepfather Frederick and Beatrice come to visit, but Oliver refuses to see them. Angry and bitter, Oliver slowly becomes softened by Laura's compassion and common sense. One day, Hillgrove comes to meet Oliver and reveals that he lost his sight during World War I, but that his love of music offered him new vision. Sensing that Oliver is filled with self-pity, Hillgrove counsels him to accepts his disabilities. Three weeks later, Oliver receives an ultimatum from his mother: either come home or she will move in with him. To fend off his mother, Oliver proposes to Laura and she accepts. After their wedding, the newlyweds send for Hillgrove and avow that they have experienced a physical transformation. Laura explains that they both believed their marriage a farce until their wedding night when Laura tried to voice her devotion to Oliver and suddenly, the room became filled with enchanted music and she saw Oliver as he was before the accident. Now realizing that he is truly in love with Laura, Oliver sees his wife as a beautiful woman. Their illusion is shattered, however, by the intrusion of Oliver's mother and stepfather. Although Hillgrove tries to reassure them of their son's newfound peace and happiness, the Prices see only ugliness and imperfection and insult Laura's appearance, thus shattering the dream. Mrs. Minnett consoles them by stating that their love gives them a gift of sight unlike any other, and later that night, Oliver inscribes their names on the window. His thoughts returning to the present, Hillgrove continues to play the piano as Laura and Oliver approach the portal to his house and embrace, their beauty restored by love.
Albert S. D'agostino
Fred L. Granville
Jack J. Gross
Herman J. Mankiewicz
Earl B. Mounce
James G. Stewart
Richard Van Hessen
Vernon L. Walker
The Enchanted Cottage - The Enchanted Cottage
The Enchanted Cottage is a movie with its heart in the right place. Anyone who has ever been in love can relate to the sensation that one's partner becomes more beautiful as one's love deepens. The Enchanted Cottage illustrates this phenomenon to full and lovely effect, with its allegorical yet delicate story of the power of love to physically transform a couple.
Robert Young plays a disfigured WWII veteran who is unable to cope with an ugliness that repels everyone. Seeking to retreat from the world, he travels to a New England cottage which he once visited with his fiancee at the time - before he was sent to war and disfigured. The cottage is all that remains of a vast estate on the Atlantic coast. The rest burned down long ago, and the owner of the cottage (Mildred Natwick), recognizing the magic spell the cottage seems to cast on young lovers, rents it out to couples on their honeymoons. She lets Young stay there, and he isolates himself from his family and friends. The only person he can talk to is Dorothy McGuire, a homely girl who helps Natwick run the place.
Young and McGuire marry, more out of convenience than love, but on their honeymoon night, a "miracle" occurs. They now look beautiful to each other. His disfigurement vanishes, and her dowdiness dissolves. Overjoyed at their newfound happiness, they explain what has happened to their blind neighbor Herbert Marshall, who encourages them to believe the miracle and to treasure it. But when Young's superficial parents come to visit and still see the two as they really are, the spell is broken - until the couple come to realize that it was their love, not the cottage, that made them see each other as beautiful in the first place.
This sensitive and touching story had its genesis in a 1922 play by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero. Greatly loved in its time, it was written as a morale booster for men who returned from WWI scarred and maimed. After West End and Broadway runs, it was made as a silent picture by First National, with Richard Barthelmess and May McAvoy in the lead roles. Remake plans were in the works for years after talkies came around, but it wasn't until the WWII era that RKO contract producer Harriet Parsons (daughter of Louella), was able to get it going. She hired writer DeWitt Bodeen to update the story and John Cromwell to direct it. Cromwell brought in Herman Mankiewicz (Citizen Kane, 1941) to do a rewrite. He also hired cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff, who shot it quite imaginatively. Roy Webb composed the Oscar-nominated score.
McGuire had been bouncing around the east coast as a stage actress for years when she scored a tremendous Broadway hit in the 1941 production of Claudia. David Selznick signed her to a screen contract and lent her to Fox for the 1943 film version of Claudia, in which McGuire made her screen debut. It, too, was a huge success. Robert Young co-starred in Claudia and then joined McGuire again for her second feature, The Enchanted Cottage. (Three years later, they teamed up a third time for the sequel Claudia and David, 1946.)
Rather than play her character with physical disabilities as in the stage and silent versions of the story (e.g., with a crooked nose, buck teeth or a limp), McGuire insisted that her plainness be created through plain, loose-fitting clothing, drab hairstyles, and no makeup. Costume designer Eddie Stevenson created two of everything she wore: one that fit perfectly, for shots in which Young sees her, and one that fit badly, for shots in which others see her.
Young loved this picture so much that years later he named the home he built in California "The Enchanted Cottage."
Producer: Jack J. Gross, Harriet Parsons
Director: John Cromwell
Screenplay: DeWitt Bodeen, Herman J. Mankiewicz (based on the play by Arthur Wing Pinero)
Cinematography: Ted Tetzlaff
Film Editing: Joseph Noriega
Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Albert S. D'Agostino
Cast: Dorothy McGuire (Laura Pennington), Robert Young (Oliver Bradford), Herbert Marshall (The blind composer), Mildred Natwick (Mrs. Abigail Minnett), Spring Byington (Violet Price), Hillary Brooke (Beatrice Alexander), Richard Gaines (Frederick 'Freddy' Price).
BW-93m. Closed captioning.
by Jeremy Arnold
The Enchanted Cottage - The Enchanted Cottage
According to an August 1944 New York Times news item, RKO acquired the rights to Arthur Pinero's play in 1929 as a vehicle for Helen Twelvetrees. Ten years later, the studio considered making a version starring Ginger Rogers. According to a modern article by screenwriter DeWitt Bodeen, when neophyte producer Harriet Parsons discovered that RKO owned the rights to the play, she decided to produce it as her first assignment at that studio. A September 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item adds that Teresa Wright was set to star as "Laura." By November and December of 1943, however, Hollywood Reporter news items state that Parsons was occupied with another assignment, and that Dudley Nichols was to produce and write the screenplay and Jean Renoir would direct. In February 1944, the Nichols-Renoir project was shelved, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item. In March 1944, the project was re-assigned to Parsons, who then hired Bodeen to write the screenplay. At that time, the story was updated from Pinero's World War I London setting to New England during World War II.
According to an August 1944 New York Times news item, Pinero's play was written at the behest of the British government as a message of optimism for shell-shocked war veterans. Although Alan Marshal was intially set to co-star in the film, an August 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Marshal was forced to withdraw after he suffered a "nervous collapse," and that Joseph Cotten was being considered for the part. Robert Young was finally borrowed from M-G-M to play "Oliver," and director John Cromwell and actress Dorothy McGuire were borrowed from David O. Selznick's company. The picture was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Score. The 1924 First National film The Enchanted Cottage, starring Richard Barthelmess and May McAvoy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.1526), was also based on Pinero's play. On September 3, 1945, Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire starred in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast based on the play, and on September 29, 1955, Dan O'Herlihy and Teresa Wright appeared in a Lux Video Theatre presentation of the play, broadcast on the NBC network. Another film version of the story, which was to star Cher, was announced in 2001, but that project was never realized.