Tuesday, February 14, 2017

For St. Valentine's Day: Transforming Love

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

The Enchanted Cottage is a romantic fantasy movie produced by Harriet Parsons for RKO, released in 1945. It stars Robert Young, Dorothy McGuire, Herbert Marshall, and Mildred Natwick, with brief and devastating appearances by Spring Byington.

Herbert Marshall, as the blind composer John Hillgrove, and Mildred Natwick, as the widowed proprietor of the Enchanted Cottage, Abigail Minnett, know the secret of the transforming power of love. He can't see it but he can sense it; she can't see it but knows it's true--only the outside world, including Spring Byington as Violet Price, can't appreciate what love has done for Oliver and Laura.

Oliver Bradford (Robert Young) has been disfigured and disabled by injuries sustained in World War II. He has broken off his engagement and fled his family for the "honeymoon cottage" in New England. Laura Pennington (Dorothy McGuire) is plain, awkward, and lonely and comes to work for Mrs. Minnett. Oliver and Laura begin to love each other, marry, and take up their residence in the honeymoon cottage. When they see each other, he is handsome and whole and she is beautiful and sophisticated. Hillgrove writes a tone poem to celebrate their love and how it has transformed them. He has helped Oliver gain perspective about his wartime injuries by describing his own experience, since he was blinded by wounds suffered in World War I.

The saddest moment comes when Oliver's mother, Violet, and her husband (his step father) visit and the couple's faith in their transformation is shaken by her lack of perception. Hillgrove tries to prepare her, but she is too insensitive. She is a warning to the audience: this is a fragile fantasy and Mrs. Minnett has to put the fantasy back together for them. She admits that she can see no change in their appearance but has felt the enchantment of their love. Mrs. Minnett tells them they can be confident in their love and their transformation, declaring that she knows that if her husband (who died in World War I) returned to life, he would find her beautiful. 

So Oliver and Laura decide that they can go listen to the tone poem John Hillgrove has composed for them, even though "there'll be people there".

You can listen to the Lux Radio broadcast; unfortunately, neither Herbert Marshall nor Mildred Natwick are in the cast, but Young and McGuire are. The radio broadcast reminds us of the World War II setting, as the narrator discusses the men returning from war and needing help and time to heal, and after the broadcast, the need for fat and grease! Housewives can turn in their drippings and receive ration tickets for meat! 

No comments:

Post a Comment