This week’s selection is romantic and sappy (sorry, folks). But sometimes you need a proper romantic weepie about star-crossed lovers to carry you away …
Enchantment (1949), is set in World War II London although through a series of flashbacks we are introduced to the story’s main protagonists (David Niven and Teresa Wright). The plot is a little bit of a challenge to explain but not because of its complexity. The construction means that it vacillates between the present and the past in its various acts. So, for a plot synopsis, I defer to the TCM Movie Database. However I will try to encapsulate the plot as I remember (in brief) below.
At the start of the film, we are at the height of ‘The Blitz” in present-day London. Sir Roland Dane’s (David Niven) American grandniece Grizel (Evelyn Keyes) has paid her uncle a visit; she is seeking lodgings as there is a housing shortage in the city. Prior to her arrival, Sir Roland (‘Rollo’) had been reminiscing about the lost love of his life, Lark (Teresa Wright). Now we have full on flashback action …
… at which time we discover that Lark was an orphan who came to live with the Dane family as their ward. As time passes, they grow up and, in typical Cinderella fashion, Lark is treated with grave indifference by Rollo’s family, especially Rollo’s sister, Selina (played by Jayne Meadows); all except for Rollo, that is. He has fallen in love with Lark and vice versa. Of course the family will have none of this and Selina devises a scheme that will separate the lovers forever. The plot works – sort of. Upon Rollo’s realization of his sister’s meddling, he leaves the house, swearing to never return so long as his sister lives.
The sequences of the past are interspersed with the scenes of the present day in which Rollo’s niece meets a handsome young pilot named Pax Masterson (Farley Granger), who by sheer coincide, is has ties to the past tale of lost love. I will leave it to you the audience to figure out his relationship to the House of Dane, or you can go about reading the synopsis I provided. But let’s just say that while the loves of the past are gone and never to return, there is a glimmer of redemption to be had in the present.
The story of a love long lost dominates the narrative; the present-day romance left me a little ‘meh.’ Also, shifting timelines may prove too much for some, but I say just go with it. And while I really like David Niven as a screen presence, he may have been a little too old for the role of the adult Rollo.
This is by no means a perfect film, but it is pure romantic melodrama and the leads are lovely and talented enough to keep you engaged.
The Past and the Present (left to right: David Niven, Teresa Wright, Evelyn Keyes and Farley Granger)