I Married a Witch: The Wrong Aisle For Some Viewers
Rene Clair’s I Married a Witch (1942) is stupefyingly schlocky. Veronica Lake plays a 290-year-old witch that was burned by the puritans and buried under an oak tree that is to contain her spirit for eternity. A lightning bolt strikes the tree in the 1940s, however, releasing Lake’s ghost. Vengeful, she singles out Frederic March, whose ancestor was the one to burn Lake centuries earlier. She foils his marriage, clinches his election for governor, and then takes him down the aisle for herself. It should be ridiculous, but handled at Clair’s breakneck pace it finishes as fittingly absurd. Still, his earlier works such as À Nous La Liberté (1931) and Paris Qui Dort (1925) need less justification for their comedy to work. With I Married a Witch, you have to keep telling yourself, “Veronica Lake doesn’t look half bad for someone George Washington’s age.”
Cullen Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and curator whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Life Sentence, Moving Image Source, Bright Lights Film Journal, Beat to a Pulp, NoirCon, Crimefactory, Film Comment, The L Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Fandor, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Hammer to Nail, Spinetingler, Between Lavas, Reverse Shot, and Guitar Review. He records instrumental music as Modern Silent Cinema and plays in the hardcore band Night Squad.