Classic Woman-Centric Movie Review: I Married a Witch

Slay Belle already has all 31 Days of Halloween covered, but I had to get in the spirit, too, and am dedicating the last two movie review posts of this month to classic Halloween comedies. These are movies you can watch with your kids without having to worry so much about too much gore or nightmares. This week’s movie pick is I Married a Witch, released in 1942, starring Veronica Lake and Fredric March. The film was directed by Rene Clair and Preston Sturges.

Veronica Lake with a cauldron that has smoke coming out the top
Making the love potion

Wallace Wooley (March) seems to have it all: it looks like he is going to win his gubernatorial bid and he’s going to marry the daughter of one of his political backers. The problem? There’s a curse on the Wooley men that they marry unsuitable women. Jennifer (Lake) and her father, a witch and warlock respectively, were both sentenced to burn to death by one of Wallace’s ancestors. Their ashes were buried under an oak tree to keep their spirits imprisoned. When lightning strikes the oak tree during a storm, their spirits are let out.

Poster for "I Married a Witch"
Poster from the film

Jennifer and her father discover Wallace, and Jennifer begs her father to conjure her a human body so she can wreak her revenge on Wallace by being the one woman he loves but whom he can’t have. She asks her father to set a hotel on fire, which conjures her a human body, and lands her right into Wallace’s arms when he rescues her from the flames. Wallace believes Jennifer to only be in shock, and he rebuffs her advances, until she decides to make a love potion for him. However, that scheme backfires, as a picture falls on Jennifer’s ahead and Wallace unknowingly administers the love potion to her, thinking that it’s a glass of water. Jennifer is now in love with Wallace, and she forgets her original plan in favor of one to crash his wedding so he doesn’t marry the wrong woman.

The film itself is very charming and is a departure from the femme fatale roles that Lake is better known for. Here we see a woman who made a mistake so long ago, and now she sees the effects of it and goes out of her way to fix it. The dichotomy between Jennifer and Wallace’s fiancee Estelle, played by Susan Hayward, is quite clear. Estelle is spoiled and self-absorbed and is only marrying Wallace for her own ends, while Jennifer gets to know Wallace as a person and sees that he’s different from his ancestors, and she cares about him as an individual. She cares enough about him to tell him about the curse and prevent him from marrying the wrong woman and she uses her own abilities to keep his political hopes – which she helped set awry – intact.

March with his arm around Lake's shoulder, gripping her upper arm
March and Lake

Seeing as this is also a comedy, there are some very funny moments in this. It takes a little time for Jennifer to get used to modern society. Wallace’s reactions to the at times awkward situation he finds himself in are quite funny as he’s a man who has one path to his goal in mind but finds out there are different ways and that he didn’t have to live his life miserably when he had only to depart from the path a little bit and end up in something better. So if you like a little romantic comedy with your Halloween, this one is it.



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