Weird Woman (1944)

62-63 mins | Horror | 14 April 1944

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Conjure Wife . HR news items state that Paul Paige and His Hawaiian Orchestra were to perform two musical numbers in this film, but they did not appear in the viewed print. HR production charts include Samuel S. Hinds in the cast, but he did not appear in the released film. Modern sources include William Hudson ( Student ), Hannah Kaapa ( Laraua ), Chuck Hamilton ( Carpenter ) and Milburn Stone ( Voice of radio announcer ) in the cast.
       This was the second film in the "Inner Sanctum Mystery" series. For more information on films in this series, please consult the series index and see the entry for Calling Dr. Death (See Entry). The Fritz Leiber novel was filmed twice more, in 1962 as Burn, Witch, Burn! starring Janet Blair and Margaret Johnston and directed by Sidney Hayers (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ; F6.0605), and in 1980 as Witches' Brew starring Lana Turner and Teri Garr, and directed by Richard Shorr and Herbert L. ... More Less

The working title of this film was Conjure Wife . HR news items state that Paul Paige and His Hawaiian Orchestra were to perform two musical numbers in this film, but they did not appear in the viewed print. HR production charts include Samuel S. Hinds in the cast, but he did not appear in the released film. Modern sources include William Hudson ( Student ), Hannah Kaapa ( Laraua ), Chuck Hamilton ( Carpenter ) and Milburn Stone ( Voice of radio announcer ) in the cast.
       This was the second film in the "Inner Sanctum Mystery" series. For more information on films in this series, please consult the series index and see the entry for Calling Dr. Death (See Entry). The Fritz Leiber novel was filmed twice more, in 1962 as Burn, Witch, Burn! starring Janet Blair and Margaret Johnston and directed by Sidney Hayers (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ; F6.0605), and in 1980 as Witches' Brew starring Lana Turner and Teri Garr, and directed by Richard Shorr and Herbert L. Strock. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Apr 1944.
---
Daily Variety
10-Dec-43
---
Daily Variety
21 Mar 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 43
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 43
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 44
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Feb 44
p. 1747.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
8 Apr 44
p. 1834.
New York Times
1 Apr 44
p. 11.
Variety
5 Apr 44
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Dir of sd
[Sd] tech
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber, Jr. (New York, 1943).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Conjure Wife
Release Date:
14 April 1944
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 31 March 1944
Production Date:
6 December--mid December 1943
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
10 March 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12575
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
62-63
Length(in feet):
5,699 , 5,785
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9934
SYNOPSIS

Monroe College professor Norman Reed is worried about the superstitious beliefs of his young bride Paula, an orphan who was reared on a South Seas island by Laraua, the high voodoo priestess of Kauna-Ana-Ana. An old friend of her late father, Norman discovered Paula on the island, and the two then fell in love and returned to America. While he is congratulated on his marriage and completion of a new book, Superstition: Reason and Fact , by many of his Monroe colleagues, Norman receives only bitter jealousy from librarian Ilona Carr. When Norman later rejects Ilona's adulterous advances, the librarian begins a campaign to destroy the professor's marriage. Ilona first sends love-struck college student Margaret Mercer to work for Norman, then tells Margaret's jealous boyfriend, David Jennings, that the professor has a special interest in the young girl. Later, when Norman's book becomes a sensation, Ilona tells her friends that Paula is a "witch-wife" whose voodoo practices have led to the book's success. Most convinced of this is Evelyn Sawtelle, the wife of Millard Sawtelle, Norman's rival for the chairmanship of Monroe's sociology department. Later, Ilona discovers that Millard has stolen the basis of his new book from the unpublished thesis of a deceased student, and she falsely tells the meek professor that Norman intends to use this information against him. That night, Norman follows Paula on her nightly pilgrimage to the local cemetery, where she practices her voodoo rituals. Norman catches Paula performing a ceremony over an effigy of Ilona, but he stops her before she can finish. They return home, where, despite Paula's warnings, he insists that ... +


Monroe College professor Norman Reed is worried about the superstitious beliefs of his young bride Paula, an orphan who was reared on a South Seas island by Laraua, the high voodoo priestess of Kauna-Ana-Ana. An old friend of her late father, Norman discovered Paula on the island, and the two then fell in love and returned to America. While he is congratulated on his marriage and completion of a new book, Superstition: Reason and Fact , by many of his Monroe colleagues, Norman receives only bitter jealousy from librarian Ilona Carr. When Norman later rejects Ilona's adulterous advances, the librarian begins a campaign to destroy the professor's marriage. Ilona first sends love-struck college student Margaret Mercer to work for Norman, then tells Margaret's jealous boyfriend, David Jennings, that the professor has a special interest in the young girl. Later, when Norman's book becomes a sensation, Ilona tells her friends that Paula is a "witch-wife" whose voodoo practices have led to the book's success. Most convinced of this is Evelyn Sawtelle, the wife of Millard Sawtelle, Norman's rival for the chairmanship of Monroe's sociology department. Later, Ilona discovers that Millard has stolen the basis of his new book from the unpublished thesis of a deceased student, and she falsely tells the meek professor that Norman intends to use this information against him. That night, Norman follows Paula on her nightly pilgrimage to the local cemetery, where she practices her voodoo rituals. Norman catches Paula performing a ceremony over an effigy of Ilona, but he stops her before she can finish. They return home, where, despite Paula's warnings, he insists that they burn all her voodoo accouterments. Soon thereafter, Millard commits suicide, and the hysterical Evelyn accuses the Reeds of murder. After Millard's funeral, Paula warns Norman that they are now in danger from evil, as he has broken their "circle of immunity" by destroying her artifacts. Later, Norman is forced to fire Margaret as his secretary when she makes her romantic intentions known, which leads to a brief fight between Norman and David. Paula, in turn, is tormented by death chants from an unknown caller. After Margaret and David falsely accuse Norman of sexual harassment, Grace Gunnison, the dean of women, suggests that Norman go to a gymnasium to work out his problems. He is confronted there by an armed David, and when the two men struggle over the gun, David is accidentally shot and critically wounded. After he is released on bail, Norman learns that Ilona is behind all the deceptions. When David later dies in the hospital, Norman calls upon Evelyn to help him prove his innocence. That night, Evelyn calls Ilona to her home, telling the librarian that she was visited in a dream by her late husband, who told her that he died "because a woman lied," and that woman will be choked to death in thirteen days unless she confesses. The guilt-ridden Ilona slowly goes crazy over the next thirteen days. With minutes to go unilt Evelyn's "deadline," Ilona rushes to the Sawtelle home where she confesses all, only to learn that she has been tricked by Norman, Paula, Grace, Margaret and Evelyn. Unnerved, Ilona rushes out of the house, where she trips on the catwalk and is strangled to death by hanging vines, just as was predicted in the dream. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.