Monday, October 15, 2012

I Married a Witch (1942)

A distant ancestor of aspiring Governor Wallace Wooley (Fredric March) condemned a witch (Veronica Lake) and her father to death and planted an oak tree planted above their graves to trap their souls. Before she died, she cursed the Wooley family to only marry the wrong woman. Centuries later, the tree is struck by lightening and the souls of the witches are freed. Jennifer decides to take on a new body so that she can torment poor Wallace. Susan Hayward played his shrewish fiancee. The magician from The Mummy's Hand played her father.

Way to spoil an ending in a film title! Anyhow, Lake was a huge star back in the '40s and not so much thereafter. Apparently she was very difficult to work with. Despite their on-screen chemistry, she and March did not work well together. She would do things like hide weights on herself for scenes where he would have to carry her. Reportedly, he referred to the movie as "I Married a Bitch." Apparently Joel McCrea (remember him from Bird of Paradise?) was set to play opposite her, but after working with her in Sullivan's Travels, he decided to skip it, saying life is too short to do two movies with Lake.

On set behavior aside, I can see how the diminutive Lake became a star. She was both charming and adorable. Her film roles dried up in the later part of the decade as her difficult reputation grew, and she went into television. She did two more movies, one in '66 and another in '70 to no particular acclaim. She died in '73 of hepatitis at age 50, alcoholism and unstable behavior hastening her end.

The movie was bright, cheerful, and entertaining. Internal drama aside, Lake and March worked well together. AMRU 3.5.

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