The Enchanted Forest (1945)
"The Enchanted Forest" was made by PRC (Producers Releasing Corporation) a small Hollywood studio which ran from 1939 to 1947 releasing 179 features with none of them costing more than $100,000. But whilst PRC may have been one of the smaller, now almost forgotten studios some of its movies are gems none more so that the enchanting "The Enchanted Forest". Here we have a movie which you feel may have been the inspiration for some of Disney's famous movies as we have an old man who lives in the woods who ends up caring for a young child who he discovers floating down the river. It has lovely shots of this kindly old man talking with animals, him teaching the child the way of the woods and a good wholesome moral when it comes to those who want to destroy the woods for money. As such "The Enchanted Forest" pretty much feels like a budget Disney movie but an enjoyable one at that.
Old John (Harry Davenport - Meet Me in St. Louis) lives a quiet life in the forest with his dog Bruno and all manner of animals which he communes with whilst enjoying the simple pleasures offered to him by nature. But his home is under threat by the Henderson Company who is felling the giant trees and the felling of trees has caused the climate to change. It is because of this that an unexpected storm hits causing an accident with a train and a young baby to end up being washed down the river to where John finds him and raises him like a son, teaching him the way of the forest.
When you sit down to watch "The Enchanted Forest" and get met by the cheaper Cine-color you get a real sense that this 78 minute movie is going to be a cheap affair. But then within minutes you have forgotten that because we have met Old John and become enchanted by this gentle, amusing old man who loves his simple life in the woods. You do seriously become enchanted by the way he communicates with various animals and listens to the music made by the babbling brook and when Mr Green the frog croaks that a storm will becoming it is so believable. It is believable because we have John mentioning that because of the loggers high above the climate of the woods is changing and it makes sense.
But then we get the fun of John discovering the baby in the river and deciding to raise him, calling him Jackie and teaching him the way of the woods, from following trails to avoiding detection. And alongside this all about death as they have to deal with one of their animal friends being killed. Yes killed because alongside this gentle nature story we have drama with people looking for the child and an evil logger who is willing to do bad things for money. It's not complex but simply enough to keep this gentle family movie going, bringing frequent smiles to your face much of which is down to Harry Davenport delivering a wonderful performance as Old John.
What this all boils down to is that "The Enchanted Forest" does look cheap but it doesn't matter because the simple wholesome tale and the enchanting forest scenes win you over.
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