I Married a Witch (1942)

76 or 78 mins | Fantasy, Comedy-drama | 30 October 1942

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was He Married a Witch. Information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that writer Dalton Trumbo contributed to the script, but the exact nature of his contribution to the final film has not been determined. According to modern sources, Trumbo bowed out after experiencing conflicting opinions on the interpretation of the novel with producer Preston Sturges. Although Sturges is listed as producer in various contemporary sources, modern sources indicate that he left the production before completion due to artistic differences with director René Clair, and declined screen credit. According to a modern interview, Clair worked closely with Robert Pirosh on the script.
       A HR news item notes that Joel McCrea was initially slated for the lead, but declined the role because he did not want to work again with Veronica Lake, previously his co-star in Sullivan's Travels (see below). Information in the Paramount Collection also notes that Patricia Morison and Walter Abel were considered for the roles of "Estelle" and "Dudley," and a HR news item indicates that Margaret Hayes tested for the film. In Sep 1942, Paramount sold a number of pictures to United Artists for distribution, including I Married a Witch . This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy ... More Less

The working title of this film was He Married a Witch. Information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that writer Dalton Trumbo contributed to the script, but the exact nature of his contribution to the final film has not been determined. According to modern sources, Trumbo bowed out after experiencing conflicting opinions on the interpretation of the novel with producer Preston Sturges. Although Sturges is listed as producer in various contemporary sources, modern sources indicate that he left the production before completion due to artistic differences with director René Clair, and declined screen credit. According to a modern interview, Clair worked closely with Robert Pirosh on the script.
       A HR news item notes that Joel McCrea was initially slated for the lead, but declined the role because he did not want to work again with Veronica Lake, previously his co-star in Sullivan's Travels (see below). Information in the Paramount Collection also notes that Patricia Morison and Walter Abel were considered for the roles of "Estelle" and "Dudley," and a HR news item indicates that Margaret Hayes tested for the film. In Sep 1942, Paramount sold a number of pictures to United Artists for distribution, including I Married a Witch . This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture). More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Oct 1942.
---
Daily Variety
19 Oct 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Oct 42
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 41
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 May 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 42
pp. 1-2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 42
p. 5.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Oct 42
p. 969.
New York Times
20 Nov 42
p. 27.
Variety
21 Oct 42
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
James A. Millican
Ernie Shield
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A René Clair Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst to 2d cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Supv set dresser
Props
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Transparencies
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Loc mgr
Scr clerk
STAND INS
Stand-in for Fredric March
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Passionate Witch by Thorne Smith, completed by Norman Matson (New York, 1941).
SONGS
"Three Jolly Coachmen," traditional.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
He Married a Witch
Release Date:
30 October 1942
Production Date:
15 April--27 May 1942
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
10 December 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11768
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
76 or 78
Length(in feet):
6,885
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8351
SYNOPSIS

In the late seventeenth century, New Englander Jonathan Wooley watches as Jennifer, whom he has accused of witchcraft, and her father Daniel, burn to death at the stake, and he recalls that the beautiful Jennifer condemned him and his descendents to perpetual unhappiness in love. An oak tree is planted over the ashes to keep in the evil spirits, but the curse against the Wooleys continues for generations until, in the modern day, a lightning bolt strikes the oak tree, releasing the spirits of Jennifer and Daniel. The spirits emerge as wisps of smoke and watch a party in the nearby house at which the impending marriage of gubernatorial candidate Wallace Wooley, a descendant and exact likeness of Jonathan, to the shrewish Estelle Masterson is being celebrated. Jennifer insists that her father grant her a corporeal body and, because the transformation process requires that she be created out of fire, he ignites the Pilgrim Hotel. Wallace, Estelle and their friend, Dr. Dudley White, are detained on their way home because of the fire, and when Wallace hears Jennifer's haunting voice calling from within the burning building, he goes in and saves her. Wallace gives Jennifer his coat because she is naked, and is perplexed by Jennifer's knowledge of him. He is further shocked when he finds her in his home after having left her at the hospital. Despite her seductive entreaties, Wallace puts Jennifer in a taxi, but the mischievous witch disappears from the car and reappears in his bedroom, remaining there until the morning. Wallace's housemaid, Margaret, is shocked to find Jennifer in his bedroom on his wedding day and, while Wallace goes out with Estelle ... +


In the late seventeenth century, New Englander Jonathan Wooley watches as Jennifer, whom he has accused of witchcraft, and her father Daniel, burn to death at the stake, and he recalls that the beautiful Jennifer condemned him and his descendents to perpetual unhappiness in love. An oak tree is planted over the ashes to keep in the evil spirits, but the curse against the Wooleys continues for generations until, in the modern day, a lightning bolt strikes the oak tree, releasing the spirits of Jennifer and Daniel. The spirits emerge as wisps of smoke and watch a party in the nearby house at which the impending marriage of gubernatorial candidate Wallace Wooley, a descendant and exact likeness of Jonathan, to the shrewish Estelle Masterson is being celebrated. Jennifer insists that her father grant her a corporeal body and, because the transformation process requires that she be created out of fire, he ignites the Pilgrim Hotel. Wallace, Estelle and their friend, Dr. Dudley White, are detained on their way home because of the fire, and when Wallace hears Jennifer's haunting voice calling from within the burning building, he goes in and saves her. Wallace gives Jennifer his coat because she is naked, and is perplexed by Jennifer's knowledge of him. He is further shocked when he finds her in his home after having left her at the hospital. Despite her seductive entreaties, Wallace puts Jennifer in a taxi, but the mischievous witch disappears from the car and reappears in his bedroom, remaining there until the morning. Wallace's housemaid, Margaret, is shocked to find Jennifer in his bedroom on his wedding day and, while Wallace goes out with Estelle and her father, J. B. Masterson, who is also his campaign backer, Jennifer and Daniel concoct a love potion with which to ensnare Wallace. Daniel then decides to take a corporeal form and burns another building to create himself. Wallace returns but Jennifer accidentally drinks the potion and falls desperately in love with him. That day, Daniel uses some nefarious tactics to stop the wedding but only succeeds in getting drunk and arrested. Jennifer then interrupts the ceremony by pretending to collapse, but revives the instant Wallace expresses any feeling for her. Estelle finally calls off the wedding after she finds Wallace and Jennifer kissing, and her father vows to ruin Wallace's political career. While Daniel, who is too drunk to remember any of his spells, howls to be released from jail, Wallace and Jennifer marry at a small roadside inn. Jennifer confesses to Wallace that she is a witch, but he does not believe her until she uses witchcraft to ensure that he wins the gubernatorial election, even though Masterson had spread rumors of scandal that marred his campaign. Daniel escapes from jail and insists that Jennifer be punished for revealing her nature to a mortal by imprisoning her again in the oak tree. He temporarily strips her of her powers, and despite her best efforts, Jennifer is returned to spirit form. Daniel and Jennifer watch as Wallace mourns over Jennifer's lifeless body and, to Jennifer's surprise, she unexpectedly returns to her corporeal form, thereby proving that love is stronger than witchcraft. She then traps her father in a bottle of rum, which is thereafter kept under lock and key. As time passes, Wallace and Jennifer have two sons and a daughter, Jennifer, who shows early signs of having inherited her namesake's talents. +

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.