Long, long ago, when people still believed in witches...
An ominous beginning for a film which was followed by a witch being burned at the stake. Yes, burned at the stake (watch the opening below), but do not think that this is a dark thriller from the golden age of Hollywood. In fact, this is a comedic love story between a witch and a politician. The prelude to how the witch and politician meet is quickly turned from the dark tale of witches being burned at the stake to a family curse. The men of the Wooley clan are cursed throughout time to be unhappy in love. You see two witches have cursed Jonathan Wooley and all his descendants to be doomed in love. The tone of the film quickly changes as we see the Wooley men from 1770 to Present (1942) try and break the curse, unsuccessfully. This brings us to the most recent Wooley, Jonathan (Fredric March) on the eve of his wedding. Jonathan is also running for governor and has both the headaches of getting married and being elected. Enter Jennifer, Veronica Lake, who wants Jonathan to not fall in love with anyone but her. Why? After 270 years, she is tired of being stuck in a tree and wants to ruin this Wooley’s life on her own.
I Married Witch is an interesting film with its now classic and simple approach to magic, witches, and love. The magic that is done by Jennifer and her father, Daniel (Cecil Kellaway), is nothing more than simple camera tricks. It amazed me how I both smiled and applauded these simple gags. Today the film would all be CGI. Here, it was clever and fun. The comedic approach to the witches and their happenings was fun as well. Lake, an obvious sex symbol of the era, was not so when she was cast in the part. Here, she was still a relative unknown. In I Married a Witch, she is both sexy and funny. It helps that she is a 270+ year old witch and appears in the body of 20 year old Lake. That little extra bit of backstory helps the audience get over the fact that March is 23 years her senior. March sells you on their love story and the hilarity which ensues as he tries to fight off her advances and save his already doomed engagement. Wooley’s doomed engagement to Estelle (Susan Hayward) is the one thing that hasn’t changed in Hollywood. She is a cold hearted woman and not very appealing to the audience. Obviously, this is done to win us over to Lake’s Jennifer. However, with a run time of only 77 minutes, couldn’t her character have been better developed?
This is a fun and, now, not forgotten movie from Hollywood’s golden era. The majority of films from this time were about the war and keeping hope alive. Here, we have a magical love story that teeters on the age of absurdity. Yet, in any era, whether it be one of war time or not, a good fun comedy is always appreciated.