Veronica Lake stars as Jennifer the Witch in “I Married a Witch,” a 1942 film directed by René Clair. The film also features Fredric March as several members of the Wooley clan, including a gubernatorial candidate in the present day. The film starts out in colonial times as Fredric March — playing a magistrate — condemns Jennifer and her father, Daniel, for witchcraft. While a vendor sells popcorn, the village burns Jennifer and Daniel at the stake and plants an oak tree over their ashes, which imprisons the pair forever in the tree roots. The execution is not shown, but Magistrate Wooley tells a story about Jennifer’s curse on his family that insures “every Wooley must marry the wrong woman.”
The story continues in the present day as Wooley argues with his fiancee, played by Susan Hayward, at his campaign headquarters. Jennifer and Daniel escape the tree and rush to take revenge on Wooley. Daniel remains devious, but Jennifer slowly falls in love with Wooley as well as modern times and morals. Of course, she’s the wrong woman for Wooley, but an accident and a wayward spell eventually compels Jennifer to help him.
Supposedly, the story inspired the 1960’s sitcom, “Bewitched.” Jennifer uses her powers to pull pranks and instantly light fires, much like Elizabeth Montgomery might do in the TV show. Great character actors such as Robert Benchley and Cecil Kellaway add to the fun, and March plays any kind of part well.
As in so many movies from the 30’s and the 40’s, the film shows a charwoman scrubbing the floor. I wonder how floors got so dirty during those decades. And did the floors require such vigorous scrubbing every night?