30 Days of Fandor, Day 1: I Married a Witch (1942)

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Day 1: I MARRIED A WITCH (René Clair, USA, 1942)

Quite charming, and the beloved TV show Bewitched would later take up the same source material. There is something that doesn’t quite feel fully formed—it’s a bit too rushed, the situations and gags aren’t allowed enough space to effortlessly unspool like they do in Clair’s early films—but the clever, elegantly rendered sound design testifies to the French director’s reputation as one of cinema’s great aural innovators. Present only through her mirthful purr of a voice as it emanates from a sinuous puff of smoke (the inverse of Moses’s burning bush), it’s delightful how Clair keeps teasing the audience, endlessly deferring Veronica Lake’s much-anticipated entrance into the film. And when her Puritan-era witch finally does take human form to exact romantic revenge upon the descendants of her religious enemies, the film snaps to life: flashing her famously enigmatic smile, she is all languorous self-amusement at the center of the narrative chaos until she too inevitably gets tripped up into the havoc as well (this is, after all, a screwball comedy). Favorite scene: Lake’s unbridled pleasure as she gorges on three trays of waffles—her first breakfast in several centuries.

[Watch I Married a Witch on Fandor here.]

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