Happy Sunday, y'all. Well, here we are on the final eight days of October. Like when I read a totally enthralling novel...I'm not looking forward to the end but at the same time, I'm enjoying myself too much to slow down or stop. Best to savor it, really. Anyway, here we go...
I don't often watch films about witches largely because they are far too steeped in misogyny, bigotry, religious intolerance, and agism to filter out anything worthwhile from the story. Too often, they're so offensive that I can't even get through the opening credits without wanting to stab someone repeatedly with a spork. And well...that's never conducive to a good time. The only reasons I'm able to make the exception in these cases are because...well...at least 2/3rds of the films are actually fun in spite of themselves.
First up: I Married a Witch. (1942)
I like the light-hearted naughtiness of Jennifer (Veronica Lake.) Her spirit having been cooped up beneath the roots of an old hanging tree for centuries, she's freed by a convenient bolt of lightening. She's off exploring what the new world has to offer. (Like her father.) She's playful and wicked. What she isn't, is outright evil. Sadly, this is the start of the "powerful woman loses her power when she comes in contact with love because men's fragile egos can't hang." trope. [sigh] Nonetheless, I'd like to see this one updated and with less of a "powerful woman can't be in relationships" message. By the way, this film sparked a number of big influences.
Next up: Bell, Book, and Candle. (<--see actual trailer here)
The first 2/3rds of this film have a lot going for it--Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Hermione Gingold, and Elsa Lanchester for a start. I love the joining of the pagan community with the beatnik art scene. Always have. I like that witches have the power to do certain small things (turn out street lights) and yet, can't use them to do anything huge or directly related to self gain, not without consequences. Of course, this is a ye old "love spell goes horribly wrong" story. And the ending absolutely and in all ways sucks. But at least for a while Jimmy Stewart says he doesn't want her to change, and sometimes I stop the movie there and pretend that's the end. Although, the revenge scene with (former school bully) Merle is pretty damned funny.
And now, Bewitched.
The long running television series (1964) along with I Dream of Jeannie factored huge in my childhood. I loved both because both said that women could be powerful. Unfortunately, they also said that powerful women couldn't have a relationship without giving up their power. Nonetheless, at least they weren't hideous, green-faced hags, and they weren't evil. It was something. I've included the 2005 remake because so much of it was absolutely perfect: Nicole Kidman playing Meg Ryan playing Samantha, Michael Caine as her father, Carole Shelley as Aunt Clara, Shirley McClain as Endora, and Steve Carrell as Uncle Arthur--ZOMG, he was so fucking brilliant. Every single casting choice was a stroke of absolute genius...except... Will Ferrell who is the fucking worst. He ruined the film for me. I walked out wanting to kick a wall. If it's at all possible for me to locate a version of this film where he's excised from it altogether, I'd buy that in a heartbeat. Seriously, he's that terrible. That said, I'll follow Steve Carrell's acting career to the ends of the earth because he's so amazing.
And now... The Craft.
I love the first half of this film. They got so much right--calling the corners, circle-casting... And then they wrecked it with a made-up all powerful, neutral evil god and a love spell. (Because women with power only do two things with it: make themselves gorgeous for men and cast love spells for, you guessed it, men.) I get that it's supposed to be a version of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, but just once I'd like to see a film get it all right and have things end well for the witch. Although, there is Practical Magic. Okay, how about more than once?
 Fritz Lieber's Conjure Wife (1943) which, for the record, I did read. I didn't care for because of the usual prejudices against/terror of powerful women evident in the novel. I Married a Witch also (I assume) inspired the tv series Betwitched. Both films have the same light-hearted approach.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.