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Married a Witch I Movie Review

robert lake jennifer wooley

One of the coolest movie stars between 1941 and 1947 was…Veronica Lake (1919–73) AND I Married a Witch is one of her coolest movies. Along with her father, Daniel (Cecil Kellaway, 1893–1973), she is burned at the stake during the Puritan era. For their part in this nefarious deed, the male descendants of the Wooley family are doomed forever to be the most miserable married men on Earth. Cut to the early 1940s: Wallace Wooley (Fredric March, 1897–1975) is about to be married to Estelle Masterson (Susan Hayward, 1917–75), a real shrew. Not if Jennifer (Lake) can help it! Wooley also wants to be Governor with the support of his future father-in-law, J.R. (Robert Warwick, 1878–1964). He “rescues” Jennifer from a fire (well, she IS a witch!), and she proceeds to bewitch him, as only she can. Estelle and J.R. don't like it one bit. Tough. Jennifer and Daniel make mischief in Wooley's life, until she falls in love with him and loses her magic powers. (There's a lesson here!) French director Rene (The Ghost Goes West) Clair (1898–1981) keeps things moving at a merry clip, and Robert Benchley (1889–1945) is a delight as always as Dr. Dudley White. His Algonquin Round Table crony Marc Connelly (1890–1980) contributed to the splendid adaptation of Thorne Smith's The Passionate Witch. Look for exquisite five-year-old Ann Carter as Jennifer's daughter, soon to receive rave reviews as Amy for Val Lewton's The Curse of the Cat People and as Beatrice for Mark Hellinger's The Two Mrs. Carrolls. P.S. Ten years after what turned out to be the highlight of her career, Lake accepted a television assignment on an episode of Tales of Tomorrow entitled “Flight Overdue.” Her glorious blonde mane had been hacked away in favor of a butch cut suitable for an aviatrix. The primitive video lighting was harsh on a young woman of 32, and so were the ghastly costumes. But the saddest thing about the show is the script. Lake speaks forcefully of her right to live her life as she chooses and, after her Amelia Earhart-style disappearance, Walter Brooke as her icky husband says, “I'm glad she's gone and at last I'm free.” This horrifying bit of sexual propaganda from the spring of 1952 nearly broke my heart.

1942 77m/B Veronica Lake, Fredric March, Susan Hayward, Robert Benchley, Cecil Kellaway, Elizabeth Patterson, Robert Warwick, Eily Malyon, Mary Field, Nora Cecil, Emory Parnell, Helen St. Rayer, Aldrich Bowker, Emma Dunn, Harry Tyler, Ralph Peters, Ann Carter; D: Rene Clair; W: Robert Pirosh, Marc Connelly; C: Ted Tetzlaff; M: Roy Webb. Nominations: Academy Awards ‘42: Best Original Score. VHS, LV

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