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I Married a Witch(1942)
A witch curses the family line of the man who sentenced her to death so that the sons will always marry poorly.
For more about I Married a Witch and the I Married a Witch Blu-ray release, see I Married a Witch Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on October 15, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Fredric March, Veronica Lake, Robert Benchley, Susan Hayward, Cecil Kellaway, Robert Warwick (I)
Director: René Clair
» See full cast & crew
I Married a Witch Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 15, 2013
Rene Clair "I Married A Witch" (1942) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include an original trailer for the film as well as an archival audio interview with the French director conducted by film historian Gideon Bachmann. The release also arrives with a 28-page illustrated booklet featuring Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin's essay "It's Such an Ancient Pitch", and "Rene Clair in Hollywood", an interview conducted by film scholar R.C. Dale. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
The film opens up with a short prologue in which the beautiful witch Jennifer (Veronica Lake, Sullivan's Travels, This Gun for Hire) and her sorcerer father (Cecil Kellaway, The Postman Always Rings Twice) are burned at the stake by the Puritan leader Jonathan Wooley (Frederic March, A Star is Born, The Best Years of Our Lives). An oak tree is then planted over their ashes to hold their evil spirits prisoner in its roots.
But in present days lightning strikes the tree and unleashes the two spirits. Almost immediately, Jennifer and her father head to the nearby mansion where Wallace Wooley (March) is delivering a passionate speech in front of a crowd of influential guests, some of which are not yet convinced that they should vote for him in the upcoming gubernatorial elections. Wallace's biggest promoter is the newspaper magnate J.B. Masterson (Robert Warwick), who also wants to see him marry his spoiled daughter Estelle (Susan Hayward).
Soon after, the sorcerer starts a fire in a giant hotel and forces Wallace to hear Jennifer crying for help (no one else does). Wallace enters the hotel, saves finds Jennifer, and comes out a hero. The appreciative witch then spends the rest of the night in Wallace's lavish house. On the morning after, Jennifer uses her magic to force Wallace to fall madly in love with her, thus making sure that he will single-handedly destroy his career and put an end to his relationship with the newspaper magnate's daughter. But something unexpected happens.
This quite predictable romantic comedy based upon a story by Thorne Smith and directed by the legendary Rene Clair works primarily because of the great chemistry between its stars. Lake looks stunningly beautiful here and when she manipulates March it isn't too difficult to believe that she could truly force a man like him to do some pretty silly things. A very energetic Kellaway also effectively complicates things when it really begins to feel like Lake is running out of good tricks.
There are small parts of the film where there is a bit too much of the 'magic', such as the one where the election results are announced, but Clair never loses control of the story. Indeed, the different events are nicely brought together to make the inevitable character transformations look as authentic as possible.
The majority of the special effects in the film are simple but very effective. The scenes where the spirits move from one location to another, in particular, look great. Clair and cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff (The Talk of the Town) also use light and shadow in a number of different ways when the witch or the sorcerer show what they are capable of. There is a great scene with a flying taxi that must have inspired many young filmmakers.
The film's very playful orchestra score was created by Roy Webb. In the early '40s and '50s, Webb collaborated with such legendary directors as Jacques Tourneur (Cat People, Out of the Past), Robert Siodmak (The Spiral Staircase), Alfred Hitchcock (Notorious), Fritz Lang (Clash by Night), and Sam Fuller (Fixed Bayonets!).
I Married a Witch Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Rene Clair's I Married a Witch arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"This new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a Lasergraphics film scanner from the original nitrate 35mm negative and a nitrate 35mm composite fine-grain master. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, and jitter were manually removed using MTI's DRS, while Digital Vision's Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, and dirt.
The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm optical soundtrack print. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation.
Transfer supervisor and colorist: Lee Cline/Criterion, New York.
2K film scanning: Metropolis Post, New York."
There are some extremely light vertical lines that occasionally pop up. Tiny flecks can be spotted as well. Detail and image depth, however, are very pleasing. Generally speaking, contrast levels also remain stable throughout the entire film. The blacks and whites are well balanced and there is a good range of healthy grays. There are no traces of problematic degraining corrections. Also, sharpening adjustments have not been performed. There are no serious compression issues, but I did notice some extremely light strobing during the first half of the film. Still, overall image stability is very good and the film has a very pleasing organic look. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
I Married a Witch Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: English LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
Clarity and depth are good, but occasionally there is very light background hiss that makes its presence felt. It is not distracting, but more sensitive viewers will obviously notice when the hiss becomes more prominent. The overall dynamic intensity is quite limited, but this should not be surprising considering the fact that I Married a Witch was produced in 1942. For the record, there are no pops, audio dropouts, or distortions to report in this review.
I Married a Witch Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
I Married a Witch Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Rene Clair's charming romantic comedy I Married a Witch should appeal primarily to fans of the beautiful Veronica Lake. The film is quite predictable, but Lake looks fantastic in high-definition. Let's hope that the much darker This Gun for Hire and The Blue Dahlia will eventually also transition to Blu-ray. RECOMMENDED.
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I Married a Witch Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion Announces October Titles - July 15, 2013
The Criterion Collection has announced nine titles for Blu-ray release in October. On October 8th, the studio will release René Clair's I Married A Witch. On October 15th, it will release Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face. On October 22, it will release five ...
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