Cottage to Let (1941)

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Mrs. Barrington (Jeanne De Casalis) is the wealthy head of a Scottish estate. She has big wartime plans for the extra cottage on her property. She’s decided to take in a few child evacuees… but has also offered the cottage to a man named Charles Dimble (Alastair Sim), and has promised to convert it into a small military hospital.

On the same day that the evacuees arrive, so does the first patient, a pilot named Lieutenant Perry (John Mills). Mrs. Barrington’s daughter, Helen (Carla Lehmann), helps care for Perry.

To resolve the cottage-crowding problem, the evacuees are moved into the main house, with Perry and Dimble remaining in the cottage. Fiesty teenager Ronald (George Cole) forms somewhat of a friendship with Mr. Barrington (Leslie Banks), an inventor working on advanced wartime technologies.

A full house leads to a whole lot of drama and even some spy-centered intrigue in Cottage to Let, directed by Anthony Asquith. This film is also known as Bombsight Stolen.

Cottage to Let gets off to a little bit of a chaotic start. A World War makes for a very busy time at the Barrington estate, and this is clear through the first ten minutes or so of the film, during which we are introduced to all of the plans Mrs. Barrington has made.

Unfortunately, the amount of activity going on at the estate doesn’t translate into a consistently fast-paced film.

The film is based on a stage play, and it shows — Cottage to Let is a prime example of what reviewers mean when they refer to a film as “stagey.” It’s wordy, and it feels very static. Not enough changes are made from stage to screen for the story to translate with any intensity.

(Image via flammentanz on Tumblr)
(Image via flammentanz on Tumblr)

It just doesn’t grip the viewer, even in its best moments. The film has a few scenes of light suspense but is, for the most part, quite slow. The first ten minutes and final ten minutes are a bit more action-packed, but don’t make up for the dull middle. I expected so much more from a story about secret research, spies, and wartime efforts on the home front.

That being said, the film has a pretty good cast. They all give solid efforts, but no performance is quite strong enough to elevate the material.

Cottage to Let is an underwhelming picture. Skip this one unless you’re a true devotee of British wartime dramas. The score: 1/5

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