Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Movie: Enchantment

Enchantment (1948)
directed by Irving Reis
produced by Samuel Goldwyn.
based on the novel Take Three Tenses by Rumer Godden.
David Niven as General Sir Roland Dane
Teresa Wright as Lark Ingoldsby
Evelyn Keyes as Grizel Dane
Farley Granger as Pilot Officer Pax Masterson
Jayne Meadows as Selina Dane
Leo G. Carroll as Proutie, the Dane family butler
Philip Friend as Pelham Dane
Shepperd Strudwick as the Marchese Guido De Laudi

What it's about:

In World War II London, an American servicewoman named Grizel Dane pays a visit to her great uncle, General Dane, looking for a place to stay. A seemingly cranky old man who doesn't want to be disturbed from his memories, Rollo soon gives in. Extended flashbacks reveal the story of the Dane family. Rollo and his older siblings, Selina and Pelham, are introduced to Lark by their father who explains that her parents have been killed in a train accident and that she will be living with them as his ward. Selina immediately resents the newcomer who is pretty and sweet. Roland's father later dies, leaving Selina in charge of Lark, whom she treats more like a servant. Lark is being courted  a friend of Pelham's an Italian Marchese, who she meets at a dance. Pelham also unexpectedly reveals his love for her, but she does not love him. Rollo and Lark finally acknowledge their love for each other, but Selina has other plans. She has arranged for Rollo go off for a five-year mission to Afghanistan. However, Lark refuses to wait that long, living uneasily with both Selina and Pelham. Rollo decides to refuse the appointment, but Selina confronts Lark, telling her that Rollo has decided to take the job. When he does not return by the next morning, Lark is convinced and leaves to marry the Marchese.

Back in World War II, ambulance driver Grizel transports injured Pax Masterson to a hospital. Later, she is surprised to find he is Lark's nephew. While they wait for the old man to return home, Pax and Grizel become acquainted. As time goes on, they start falling in love. When Pax receives his orders, he asks her to marry him, but she refuses because of the war.  Rollo talks to Grizel and convinces her not to throw away the chance for love as he did. She runs after Pax in the middle of a bombing raid and embraces him.

Gotham Gal says:

I once had a book called Great Romantic Films and Enchantment was one of the films listed. When I saw the DVD in the library, I quickly picked it up thinking it would be the perfect film to watch for Valentine's Day. Perhaps I've become a cynical old bitch, but I didn't find this movie romantic at all. I love a story of unrequited love as well as the next woman and certainly lovers getting a second chance, but I just didn't like this film, it was terribily dull at times.  The film follows the outline of a classic historical romance novel in the first bit, bitchy rival, two brothers in love with the same woman, a dashing Marchese to add some sparks to the usual love triangle. The biggest problem was the two lovers. Rollo comes across as a charming but callow youth and Lark is a wimpy drip who just occasionally shows some signs of spunk with little conviction. We see very few scenes of this love growing between the two of them since he's been away in the army. The scene where she tells Rollo she can't wait for 5 years sinces more like she's whining than the fact that she can't stand to be in the same house with Selina and Pelham anymore. Jayne Meadows plays a standard villainess, who hates Lark solely because other people love her.  If this were a book, I would have thrown it across the room by now. There's just no depth to any of the characters, except perhaps the Marquese. I wondered why Lark so readily believes Selina since she knows that she is a bitch and hates her. And Rollo, why doesn't he go after Lark and fight for her?

In World War II section, while I liked Evelyn Keyes spunky American Grizel (who turns out to be Pelham's granddaughter, apparently he moved to the States), I thought Farley Granger was another drip.  He moons over Grizel with big calf eyes which is supposed to spell love. At least she has real reasons for not wanting to marr Pax what with there being a war on and everything. And I did like Rollo telling her to carpe diem. I also liked David Niven who plays Rollo as a young man and as well as older Rollo. You can see what his choices have cost him for not being a stronger man. Not to spoil the end of the movie, but it's a real downer.

So I can't recommend this film, even for old movie buffs, like myself. I am however, curious to read the book that the film is based on. Rumer Godden wrote the novel Black Narcissus which was made into a very interesting film.

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