Jennifer (Veronica Lake) is a witch. She and her father Daniel (Cecil Kellaway) were burned at the stake in the 1600’s. Jonathan Wooley (Fredric March) was the man who denounced her to the authorities. Jennifer laid a curse on Jonathan and all his male descendants condemning them to marry the wrong women thus ensuring that they would have an unhappy life. Jennifer and Daniel’s remains were buried under an oak tree imprisoning their spirits forever. As the centuries past the curse was fulfilled time after time.
In 1942 Wallace Wooley (Fredric March) is running for governor and is engaged to Estelle Masterson (Susan Hayward), a spoiled shrewish woman. Estelle’s father, the wealthy newspaper magnet J. B. Masterson (Robert Warwick), is backing Wallace’s run. During a party before the wedding a storm comes up and lighting strikes the tree where Jennifer and Daniel’s spirits are confined thus releasing them. Now free they decide to wreak some havoc on Wallace.
Jennifer talks her father into manifesting a body for her. Her plan is to make Wallace fall in love with her and then spurn him. Since Jennifer was burned in fire she needs to resurrect in fire. Daniel burns down a hotel. Wallace happens to be near the hotel and ends up rescuing Jennifer. Jennifer launches her plan to seduce Wallace but Wallace is not responding the way she wants him to.
Jennifer switches to magic to entice Wallace by making a love potion. Plan B backfires when Jennifer ends up drinking the potion instead of Wallace. When Daniel tries to help he makes things worse. When Estelle sees Wallace and Jennifer kissing she calls off the wedding. Estelle’s father vows to ruin Wallace’s chances at becoming governor. Jennifer resorts to witchcraft to try to fix things.
“I Married a Witch” was released in 1942 and was directed by Rene Clair. It is a fantasy comedy. The movie was the basis for the television sitcom “Bewitched” with Elizabeth Montgomery, which ran from 1964 to 1972.
The movie is based on an unfinished novel by Thorne Smith. When Thorne died his papers included an unfinished manuscript titled “The Passionate Witch”. The novel was finished by his friend Norman Matson and the completed novel was published 1941.
Veronica Lake had a reputation for being difficult to work with. Joel McCrea was supposed to play Wallace Wooley but withdrew because he didn’t want to work with Lake again. March also had issues with Lake. In one interview he declared "I Married a Witch" the most horrendous experience he'd ever had. He reportedly referred to Lake as a “brainless little blond sexpot.” She retaliated by playing various pranks on March and called him a “pompous poseur”.
Despite any issues that the actors may have had with each other off screen the movie itself was charming. The acting was good and the story was light and funny. If there were problems between Lake and March you couldn’t tell by their performances. Cecil Kellaway was especially great as Jennifer’s father Daniel. Lake herself was enchanting and perky. She basically steals the film. Never was a witch burning more fun.