I Married a Witch
Sexy and enduringly bewitching, 1942's I Married a Witch is a four-star Hollywood incantation.
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Oct. 25, 2002
I MARRIED A WITCH (1942)
D: René Clair; with Fredric March, Veronica Lake, Robert Benchley, Susan Hayward, Cecil Kellaway, Robert Warwick.
Wallace Wooley (Fredric March) is in hot water -- even before he rushes into the burning Pilgrim Hotel to save a voice only he hears. "Here I am, Mr. Wooley," beckons a girlish coo from somewhere inside the smoke. Materializing out of the haze, Veronica Lake, wearing only a smile. "He saved somebody!" cries his fiancée as he miraculously escapes the collapsing building carrying a petite blonde in a fur coat. Tomorrow's gubernatorial race was all sewn up even before his father-in-law's newspaper chain got an exclusive. Certainly before a bewitching 270,000-year-old named Jennifer hopped her broom out of the hospital and over to the governor's mansion that very same night, landing in its occupant's bed and his pajamas. ... Odds bodkins! Imagine if this cinematic incantation had been cast under the rooftops of director René Clair's native Paris. As it is, I Married a Witch couldn't be more sexy, insouciant. Lake's assertion that she vexed her veteran co-star ('ac-tor' vs. 'starlet') fits Jennifer's motivation perfectly: revenge -- for Jonathan Wooley having burned her father and her at the stake centuries ago. Jennifer and Wally, he with his "worried looks," her mischievous love potion that backfires. Pure, unadulterated (77 minutes) magic. The gentle, whimsy that marks Clair's early Frenchies (The Italian Straw Hat, Le Million, À Nous la Liberté) is matched here only by March's physical grace and comic timing and a script by Robert Pirosh (A Day at the Races) from a story by Thorne (Topper) Smith. Clair's ami, Preston Sturges, fresh off Sullivan's Travels, went uncredited as writer (along with Dalton Trumbo) and producer. Nowhere is that four-star pedigree more dazzling than in the film's honeymoon sequence, and ultimately, every encounter between Wally and Jennifer. Love may be stronger than witchcraft, but I Married a Witch burns luminously ever after.