14 February: A singular love

Love is deeper than a surface or a sight. Tonight I repeat a very special Lux Radio Theater performance that becomes, as of now, our annual Valentine’s Day feature program—even if it wasn’t actually performed on Valentine’s Day.


Lux Radio Theater: The Enchanted Cottage (CBS, 3 September 1945)

McGuire and Young in the original film. (Photo: RKO.)

McGuire and Young in the original film. (Photo: RKO.)

But it should have been. And if even the least sentimental listener isn’t gripped or embraced by this tastefully arresting adaptation of the film hit—in which Robert Young, Dorothy McGuire, and Herbert Marshall reprise their remarkable film roles—he or she might be prone to charges of lacking soul.

Called to war on the day he was to be married, battle-disfigured socialite Oliver Bradford (Young) repairs to the remote cottage where he would have honeymooned, seeking isolation even from family, never mind the fiancee who was first repelled by his disfigurement. There, he’s befriended by its newly-hired caretaker, plain Laura Pennington (McGuire), herself seeking nothing more than a place in the shallow hometown to which she returned after eight wandering but lonely years.

What begins as solace in loneliness—and in Bradford’s hunger to keep his stubborn mother at bay—turns unexpectedly into marriage, guilt, and, at last, an unexpected revelation by way of the college’s unlikely legend: the spell it’s presumed to cast upon newlyweds who honeymoon there, which takes an even more unexpected wedding night hold on the newlywed Bradfords . . . at the precise moment they question just why they married at all.

But they can convince only one individual of what’s happened to them: a blind concert pianist and composer, John Hilgrove (Marshall), who befriends, inspires, and finds his own inspiration from them.

This performance is powerful enough to tempt you away from seeing the film. Almost. But if you have seen it, you be tempted to think Young, McGuire, and Marshall did the film as a dress rehearsal for this performance. Its very occasional melodramatics aside, I’m not entirely convinced you can find a better old-time radio performance of a better or more genuinely affecting romance.

Additional cast: Unidentified. Host/guest producer: Hunt Stromberg. Announcer: John Milton Kennedy. Music: Louis Silvers. Director: Sanford Barnett. Adapted from the screenplay by DeWitt Bodeen and Herman J. Mankiewicz; based on the novel by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero.


Further Channel Surfing:

Fibber McGee & Molly: Out of Coal with Frozen Water Pipes (comedy; NBC, 1939)
The Jack Benny Program: Live from Ontario (comedy; NBC, 1943)
Suspense: The Lucky Lady (mystery/thriller; CBS, 1946)
Life with Luigi: Movie Date (comedy; CBS, 1950)
Gunsmoke: The Round-Up (Western; CBS, 1953)
The Six Shooter: Quiet City (Western; NBC, 1954)
Suspense: Listen, Young Lovers (mystery/thriller; CBS, 1956)

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