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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

I Married a Witch (1942), directed by René Clair

This seemed a natural, after having just read Conjure Wife. Radical shift in genres, though, from horror to romantic comedy. Stars Fredric March and the iconic Veronica Lake.

In Puritan New England, two witches, a man and his daughter, are burned on the accusations of a member of the Wooley family. The daughter curses the Wooley men to marry unhappily forever after. A few brief scenes establish the effectiveness of the curse through the centuries and then we are up to the present (1942), just two days before Gubernatorial candidate Wallace Wooley (Fredric March) is to be married. Meanwhile, during a storm, a bolt of lightning frees the spirits of the witches when it strikes the tree planted over their ashes. Wanting Wallace to suffer still more, the daughter, taking the form of a young, beautiful woman (Lake, of course), sets out to make his life miserable by ruining his marriage and making him fall in love with her, she who could never love him back.

According to director René Clair, this movie got made not because of him, though he wanted to do it, but because the studio wanted a vehicle for Lake, who, at the time, was "receiving lots of publicity partly because of her beautiful hair."

Not the best reason for making a movie, but perhaps the best reason for making *this* movie. March, before he met Lake, reportedly said that she was "a brainless little blonde sexpot, void of any acting ability." I reserve judgment, this being my first Lake film, but it certainly isn't her acting that makes her memorable here.

Oh, there are a few laughs here and there; few enough that to give any of them away here would be to significantly reduce a viewer's enjoyment of the movie. And it's a cheerful picture for the most part. But the romance is contrived -- literally -- and we really never see any good reason why these two should fall in love. Susan Hayward, the shrew Wallace is about to marry, is much more animated than Lake; it's a pity she has so few scenes.

This film was one of the inspirations for the TV show Bewitched, about a man who also marries a witch, but it reminded me more of I Dream of Jeannie, though only because Lake and her father, when incorporeal, travel about as columns of smoke and more than once come to rest by flowing into bottles.