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Film: I Married A Witch

I Married a Witch is a 1942 romantic comedy directed by René Clair and starring Fredric March and Veronica Lake. Lake is Jennifer, a witch who was burned at the stake along with her father Daniel sometime around the 1670s, after being accused by one Jonathan Wooley (March). Their ashes are buried under an old oak tree to prevent their spirits from escaping. Jonathan reveals that before she was arrested, Jennifer cursed him and all of his descendants to "marry the wrong woman".

A montage over the centuries reveals several generations of Wooleys (all March) who marry shrewish, henpecking wives. Cut to 1942, when a lightning bolt strikes the tree and frees the spirits of Daniel and Jennifer. They run across the latest Wooley, Wallace (also March) who is running for governor and also about to get married to another shrew, Estelle (Susan Hayward). Jennifer decides to make another Wooley miserable by making Wally fall in love with her. When Wally decides to go ahead with the wedding anyway, Jennifer makes a love potion to entrap him—but there's a mixup, and she drinks the potion instead. And as to be expected, Hilarity Ensues.


Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Daniel.
  • Alliterative Name: Wallace Wooley has one.
  • Anachronism Stew: A vendor sells "popped maize" at the burning of Jennifer and Daniel. While popcorn does have a rather long history, American colonists did not eat it.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: Ordinary guy paired up with nearly 300,000-year-old witch.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Daniel punishes Jennifer for helping Wally by taking away her powers.
  • Burn the Witch!: The burning has just been completed when the film starts. (In Real Life, all the witches executed in Massachusetts were hanged.)
  • Curse: "Each Wooley must marry the wrong woman."
  • Flying Broomstick: Jennifer makes frequent use of one.
  • Genie in a Bottle: Jennifer defeats her father by luring him into a bottle of liquor and corking it.
  • High Heel-Face Turn/Love Redeems: Jennifer starts helping Wally against Daniel after she drinks the potion.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Daniel, understandable since he usually only sings when he's drunk.
  • Hot Witch: Veronica Lake, at the height of her sexiness, in a lot of tight dresses. Yup.
  • Identical Grandson: March plays five generations of Wooleys.
  • Info Dump: Jennifer's cursing of Jonathan isn't shown, but told by Jonathan to his mother.
  • Irony: Jennifer lost her old body after she and her father were burned by pilgrims, and gained a new one after the Pilgrim Hotel was burned by her father.
  • Love Potion: Jennifer prepares one for Wally. But after a portrait of Jonathan Wooley falls off the wall (due to her magic) and hits her on the head, stunning her, Wally gives her the potion to drink.
  • Magic Music: Jennifer and Daniel sing an incantation while brewing the love potion.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Although her original intent was to screw with him and break his heart, after she drinks the potion Jennifer becomes this.
  • Meet Cute: Wally hears Jennifer's cries from a burning building (the fire is necessary for her to take mortal form). He goes in to save her, only to find that she is 1) naked and 2) pretty unconcerned about the building burning down.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Veronica Lake, even more than usual. The skin-tight, nearly see-through dress she's wearing when she drinks the potion was as racy as it got in the 1940s.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: The woman singing "I Love You Truly" at the wedding of Wally and Estelle never gets to finish.
  • Naked on Arrival: Originally Jennifer and Daniel are spirits in the form of wisps of smoke. When her father creates a human body for her, Jennifer is naked, much to Wally's surprise.
  • Not My Driver: Wally thinks that his regular cabbie is driving them away—but it's really Daniel, who is determined to destroy the romance.
  • 100% Adoration Rating: Jennifer uses her magic to make every voter in the state vote for Wally in the gubernatorial election. A horrified Wally realizes that she wasn't kidding about being a witch.
    Wally: What if she runs me for President?
  • Oh Crap:
    • As Jennifer prepares to marry Wally, the wife of the Justice of the Peace tells her that hopefully she and Wally will have sons was handsome as him, and daughters as beautiful as her. This makes Jennifer realize that they could possibly have a witchy daughter, and subsequently decide to out herself to Wally.
    • After Jennifer reunites with Wally and encases Daniel's soul, Jennifer smiles and tells Wally that their problems are over. Then, she makes a worried expression, and adds, "...at least for the present!" The Babies Ever After epilogue makes Jennifer's fears seem possibly justified, by hinting that one of the three children she and Wally eventually have might become a witch herself.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Lake's trademark hairstyle, present here as always.
  • The Power of Love: As Jennifer puts it, "Love is stronger than witchcraft." When Daniel tries to punish Jennifer for falling for Wally, her love for Wally saves her soul from becoming again trapped in the tree.
  • Progressive Era Montage: After Jonathan's description of the curse, the movie shows a few of the unhappy marriages that his descendants experienced.
  • Spiritual Successor: Bewitched.
  • Title Drop: From Wally after he realizes Jennifer really is a witch.
Adventures of Huckleberry FinnCreator/United ArtistsI'm Gonna Git You Sucka
Holiday InnFilms of the 1940sJungle Book
HungerCreator/The Criterion CollectionI Vitelloni

alternative title(s): I Married A Witch
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