Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Married a Witch (1942)

“Goodbye, Jennifer, be a bad girl.”

            I Married a Witch is one of those cute romantic comedies with a descent story to come out of the 1940s. Veronica Lake plays a witch named Jennifer who along with her father, Daniel, back in 1600s New England is hanged on the charge of witch craft. She and her father put a curse on the Wooley family who are the ones who brought charges against them. The curse sees that any man in the Wooley family will never be happily married. We see a few of the Wooley men (all played by Frederic March) throughout the family’s history very unhappily married to the wrong woman.
            Wallace Wooley (March) is the latest of the Wooley men to be marrying, he is engaged to a spoiled daddy’s girl named Estelle (Susan Hayward). They are attending a party given in his honor in his run for governor. Outside not very far away from the house stands the tree where Jennifer and Daniel were hanged hundreds of years earlier and where their souls still linger. A lightning bolt cracks a branch from the tree releasing the two souls.
            The souls fly over to the house where Jennifer sees that the new Wooley is not happy at all and she delights in the thought. To make matters worse for him Jennifer decides to get Wallace to fall in love with her to complicate his relationship with Estelle. She and her father set a local hotel on fire which just so happens to be the route in which Wallace and Estelle were driving through on their way home. Wallace gets out of the car to see what the problem is and he is drawn to a cry for help in the crumbling hotel. There he finds a gorgeous girl stark naked in the smoke. He carries her to a room that is supposed to not be in danger of collapsing. Here Jennifer sees herself in her new body.
            The walls collapse around them there seems to be no way out but Wallace manages to find one and carries Jennifer to safety. He takes Jennifer back to his house to recuperate but she will not leave and brings into his life a huge amount of chaos. She whips up a love potion to make him fall him love with her but something happens to her and Wallace accidentally gives her the water with the potion mixed in! Now it is she who is the one who is falling in love with a Wooley!!

            From there the film gets really silly and in my opinion a bit ridiculous and predictable. We all know that March and Lake eventually wind up together so the little “curve” that is thrown in towards the end is a bit of an annoyance.
             Each actor was cast perfectly. Veronica Lake you can believe being the not so nice witch who has been scorned and is looking for revenge. She was a good comedienne; she delivered her lines well and did not over act at all. It is a shame to read that Lake was a pain in the ass on set. Many times because of her antics some scenes had to redone. March had said something about her before filming and she made his life not so pleasant. Joel McCrea was asked to play Wallace but he refused he said he did not want to work with Lake again after working with her on Sullivan’s Travels. I believe this was the first time I have ever seen Frederic March in a film. I liked him a lot he was very funny as the confused and bumbling Wallace Wooley.  The reason I wanted to see the film was to see Susan Hayward. Although she was not in the film the whole time she was my favorite. She was such a bitch (!) but she was so perfect. I liked the scene where Jennifer- with her powers- closes the door on Estelle’s face. The look on Susan Hayward’s face was great.
            Edith Head was costume designer for the film. Her costumes are always gorgeous but on Veronica Lake they looked so amazing.
            All in all I found I Married a Witch to be light entertaining fun. Like I said at the start of this review it did get really silly in the middle all the way to the end and that silliness spoiled the film a bit for me. The special effects of the time like the souls floating, the hotel catching on fire, and many others were done very well for the time period. The acting is very good which helps with the middle and ending not being too great, it makes up for the rush of getting Jennifer and Wallace together to make a happy ending. I Married a Witch is good to view when you want to see something silly.

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