I Married a Witch (1942) starring Fredric March, Veronica Lake, Susan Hayward, Cecil Kellaway
I Married a Witch is a screwball comedy with a magical twist. The men in the Woolsey family are cursed — to marry the wrong woman. Ever since a pilgrim ancestor was instrumental in burning a father and daughter witch at the stake. Their evil spirits have been captured in a tree ever since. Until a lightning bolt strikes the tree, and frees them, and they decide to have their revenge on the last of the Woolseys … But something goes wrong!
Setting the stage
Wally Woolsey (Fredric March, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) is running for governor, and is about to marry the wrong woman (Susan Hayward, I Want to Live). She’s a domineering woman who will make his life miserable. The female witch Jennifer (Veronica Lake, Sullivan’s Travels) decides to make his miserable life even more miserable. By taking a human body and making Woolsey fall in love with her. However, she needs a burning building for this to work, and so she sets a supernatural fire to the Pilgrim Hotel. Woolsey is stopped in traffic nearby … and he hears a young woman’s voice calling to him …
He runs into the burning building, and rescues the beautiful young woman that he finds there … and she tries entangling him with her feminine wiles, but even after multiple attempts, he resists … and so, at her father’s (Cecil Kellaway, The Mummy’s Hand) suggestion, she brews a love potion. And she tries to have Woolsey drink it. But she bumps her head, and he “helpfully” gives it to her to help her recover. And unwittingly, he causes her to fall in love with him.
Best laid plains of witches and men
This leads to comic interruption of the wedding, and later to Woolsey and Jennifer get married. But her father objects, and wants to take her spirit back with him to the tree for centuries as a punishment. But in a clever twist, Jennifer outsmarts him, imprisons him in a bottle of whiskey, leaving him happily imprisoned and the happy couple together. At least until the children arrive!
In all, I Married a Witch is a fast-paced screwball comedy, with good humor and fast-paced jokes, which I enjoyed very much.
Editorial review of I Married a Witch courtesy of Amazon.com
This fun and stylish Rene Clair comedy gave two big Hollywood names–Fredric March and Veronica Lake–a chance to break away from their stereotypically serious roles (as intense leading man and film noir vamp, respectively) and exercise their funny bones. The sultry Lake stars as a Salem witch burned at the stake who returns to haunt the descendants of the Puritans who let her smolder, namely aspiring politician March.
Lake concocts a love potion for her victim that will get him to fall in love with her, rather than his snooty fiancée (Susan Hayward in one of her early roles). Things get a wee bit complicated when said potion works its spell on Lake instead and she falls head over broomstick for March. Blissfully hilarious and romantic, this Witch is blessed with great chemistry between March and Lake (who never looked lovelier), dryly funny one-liners, and a scene-stealing performance by Cecil Kellaway as Lake’s perennially drunk warlock dad. Robert Benchley of Algonquin Round Table fame also pops up in a supporting role. Rumored but never actually confirmed to be the basis for the hit TV series Bewitched. –Mark Englehart
Funny movie quotes from I Married a Witch
Wallace Wooley: Now you listen to me, young lady. Come on. Get up.
Jennifer: [she stands] I’m listening, Mr. Wooley.
[he stares at her]
Jennifer: Why do you look at me that way? Oh, my dress. Do you like it?
Wallace Wooley: I-I don’t know. It’s such a shock to see you dressed. I mean… you’re beautiful.
Jennifer: Enough to make a man fall in love?
Wallace Wooley: Mere physical beauty isn’t everything.
Jennifer: [disappointed] That’s what I thought.
Wallace Wooley: [clears his throat] Look here, Jennifer.
Jennifer: I don’t like the tone of your voice!
Wallace Wooley: Well, I swallowed some smoke last night.
Daniel: Goodbye, Jennifer, be a bad girl.
Jennifer: Ever hear of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire? That was our crowd.
J.B. Masterson: Will you try to be a little more pleasant, at least until after the wedding?
Dr. Dudley White: Oh well, it’s late, I’ve got to be getting into my strait jacket. I’ll call a broom.
Wallace Wooley: I’m afraid you’ve got a hangover.
Daniel: Don’t tell me what I’ve got! I invented the hangover. It was in 1892… B.C.
Daniel: [singing] For tonight I merry merry be / Tomorrow I’ll be sober.
Cast of characters
- Fredric March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931) … Jonathan Wooley / Nathaniel Wooley / Samuel Wooley / Wallace Wooley
- Veronica Lake (Sullivan’s Travels) … Jennifer
- Robert Benchley (Dancing Lady) … Dr. Dudley White
- Susan Hayward (I Want to Live) … Estelle Masterson
- Cecil Kellaway (Easy to Wed) … Daniel
- Elizabeth Patterson (The Cat and the Canary ) … Margaret
- Eily Malyon (On Borrowed Time) … Tabitha Wooley
- Robert Warwick (The Princess and the Pirate) … J.B. Masterson
- Robert Greig (The Picture of Dorian Gray) … Town Crier
- Viola Moore … Martha
- Mary Field (Life with Father) … Nancy Wooley
- Nora Cecil … Harriet Wooley
- Emory Parnell (Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House) … Allen – Hotel Owner
- Helen St. Rayner … Singer at Wedding
- Aldrich Bowker … Justice of the Peace
- Emma Dunn (Cowboy From Brooklyn) … Wife of Justice of the Peace