Oliver Bradford, (Robert Young) is a young man who returned from World War II with severe facial scars; while he was engaged to be married before he left, he believes that no one could love him now, and he lives on the brink of suicide.

Oliver meets Laura Pennington, (Dorothy McGuire), a plain young woman who is convinced that her looks will never win her a man. These two lonely people marry, more out of desperation than love, and move into a small cottage, which is all that remains of the large estate of Abigail Minnett (Mildred Natwick), who lost the rest of her property in a fire.

The cottage has been the site of many happy honeymooners over the years, and inside its walls, Oliver and Laura discover that a magical transformation takes place; he regains the handsome features he once possessed, and she becomes beautiful. The couple finds love and happiness with each other, but finds that the cottage's magical spell only works as long as they remain at home with each other, for the outside world does not recognize the beauty that they have found with each other.

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“The Enchanted Cottage” is probably one of the best black and white movies you've never seen. Set in 1942 and released in 1945, the film uses the backdrop of WWII to set the stage for a fairy-tale-like story of two ugly ducklings that find love. Even if you don't like fantasy movies, you'll probably like this one. And if you like romantic movies, this is one you won't want to miss.

What makes this film so special is its power to evoke emotion. Director John Cromwell does a sterling job of keeping the movie in line, keeping the tone properly balanced so that no false notes -- which would be fatal -- ever creep in. He's enormously helped by the sensitive and beguiling performances of Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire, and excellent supporting work from Mildred Natwick and Spring Byington. All the players, onscreen and off, create a delicate world that may not be real -- but that most viewers will fervently wish it were.

If you've ever been on the outside of anything, you'll feel a kindred spirit with Laura Pennington as she sits in the war-time canteen while everyone dances but her. The same holds true for Oliver Bradford's struggle with his war injury and resulting disfigurement. Young makes you understand just how frustrated his character must be.

Herbert Marshall, as blind composer and piano player Major John Hillgrove, joins the two unfortunates. It's through his metaphorical eyes that we're given clues on how to view the film, and maybe even life itself. When his character explains how he only truly learned to see after he lost his actual sight, you begin to understand the depth of the story.

Hillgrove's blindness isn't the only reference to sight in the movie. In fact, the idea that sight is relative is at the heart of the story. Although they retain their physical sight, Oliver and Laura begin to see each other through new eyes, which is a revelation for both of them. This new vision -- created by love -- is then challenged by the outside world. Oliver and Laura almost succumb to other people's vision of them, but in the end, they decide the only view of life that matters to them is their own.

Those unwilling to give poetic romance its due should steer clear of “The Enchanted Cottage”, a fragile yet powerfully optimistic melodrama. But those who are willing to enter into the Cottage's enchanted world will find themselves delighted and ultimately uplifted. It's all fantasy, of course, although not the "sprites in the wood" type that the title suggests. Rather, “The Enchanted Cottage” steadfastly promotes the theory that beauty really and truly is in the eye of the beholder.

From its startlingly Academy Award nominated romantic score to its stunning cinematography, “The Enchanted Cottage” has been put together to create a dream world in which love truly can conquer all, while tugging more than a few heartstrings along the way. It's unabashed melodrama, yet a melodrama that often gets its way through gentle rather than blatant manipulation, and emerges all the more powerful for that.