If you want a fun, little romantic film that does not have a lot of gore but has a lot of spirit. “I Married A Witch” (1942) is the perfect film to set you in the mood for Halloween. The film stars Veronica Lake, Frederic March, Susan Hayward and Cecil Kellaway and is directed by Rene Clair. Based off of the novel “The Passionate Witch” by Throne Smith, the film opens with the aftermath of a town that has just burnt a witch at the stake. It is relayed that the men of the Wooley family, who charged the woman with witchcraft, will be cursed for generations to come in the matters of love. They will be miserable and suffer due to marrying the wrong woman.
Flash-forward 270 years later and their descendant “Jonathan Wooley” (March) is in a political race for governor and is engaged to “Esther” (Hayward), the daughter of his political backer. On the eve of their wedding night, a lightning bolt strikes the oak tree which had entombed the spirits of the witch “Jennifer” and her father and thus their souls are set free. Once they regenerate their bodies, Jennifer and her father set out to personally make Jonathan suffer by forcing him to fall in love with Jennifer so that it will ruin not only his marriage to Esther which would therefore ruin his life. It is all left up to a mishap with a love potion that Jennifer concocts, that she winds up falling in love with him and wants to back out of the plan altogether. However, her father is still hell-bent on destroying the Wooleys. Will he succeed or will Jennifer’s love for Jonathan be strong enough to stop him?
There is an interesting piece of trivia for when you watch the film. Apparently, actor Joel McCrea was signed to the project before Lake was cast. McCrea dropped from the film once Lake was cast. He was Lake’s previous co-star in “Sullivan’s Travels” (1941) and refused to work with her again. And it seemed that her reputation preceded her as Lake did not get along with March either. The quarreling actors were always publicly denouncing each other:
Lake on March: "He’s a pompous poseur.”
March on Lake: “[She’s] a brainless little blonde sexpot void of any acting ability.”
During production, Lake went as far as pulling tricks on March during shooting. In scenes where March had to carry Lake in his arms, the lithe actress would weigh her costume down by twenty pounds. And in scenes where the camera shot the actors from-the-waist-up, Lake took to the habit of swinging her tiny leg a little too close to March’s groin. And if that were not enough, March would intentionally flip the film’s title keyword from a “w” to a “b” when he spoke of the film.
*This review was made possible by watching the film on Turner Classic Movies channel. It was not endorsed by any means.*