The Enchanted Cottage (1945)

91-92 mins | Fantasy, Romance | 1945

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HISTORY

According to an Aug 1944 NYT 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 Sep 1943 HR news item adds that Teresa Wright was set to star as "Laura." By Nov and Dec of 1943, however, HR 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 Feb 1944, the Nichols-Renoir project was shelved, according to a HR news item. In Mar 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 Aug 1944 NYT 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 Aug 1944 HR 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 ... More Less

According to an Aug 1944 NYT 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 Sep 1943 HR news item adds that Teresa Wright was set to star as "Laura." By Nov and Dec of 1943, however, HR 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 Feb 1944, the Nichols-Renoir project was shelved, according to a HR news item. In Mar 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 Aug 1944 NYT 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 Aug 1944 HR 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 3 Sep 1945, Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire starred in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast based on the play, and on 29 Sep 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. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Feb 1945.
---
Daily Variety
14 Feb 45
p. 3.
Down Beat
1 Jan 45
p. 7.
Film Daily
15 Feb 45
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 May 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 44
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 44
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 45
p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Dec 44
p. 2242.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 Feb 45
p. 2317.
New York Times
20 Aug 1944.
---
New York Times
28 Apr 45
p. 19.
Variety
14 Feb 45
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus
Orch arr
SOUND
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec, eff and mus mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Transparencies
Matte paintings
Matte paintings
STAND INS
Piano double for Herbert Marshall
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Enchanted Cottage by Sir Arthur Pinero (London, 1922).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 28 April 1945
Production Date:
early October--2 December 1944
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
9 March 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13271
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
91-92
Length(in feet):
8,291
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10513
SYNOPSIS

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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.