Everett Collection
Keith Staskiewicz
October 04, 2013 AT 04:00 AM EDT

I Married a Witch

Current Status
In Season
Danny DeVito
Tom Cruise

We gave it a B+

Twenty-two years before Samantha first wiggled her nose on Bewitched, the adorable comedy I Married a Witch (1942, 1 hr., 17 mins., Not Rated) pondered the difficulties of unholy matrimony. Hollywood’s ill-fated sprite Veronica Lake plays Jennifer, a colonial-era witch who was burned at the stake along with her father. Her spirit is released hundreds of years later by a freak lightning storm, allowing her to fall in love with a descendant of the Puritan who originally denounced her. (Both characters are played by Fredric March.) Essentially a prototype of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, with an emphasis on pixie, Jennifer bops around on a broomstick, wreaking havoc on her beau’s aspiring political career, while her resurrected father seeks revenge. French master of whimsy René Clair directs, but you can definitely see the light-touch fingerprints of Preston Sturges, who was a producer on the project before dropping out due to creative differences. The movie’s gender politics are pretty iffy — for one, March’s ex-fiancé is an absurdly cartoonish shrew — and the new Criterion release has surprisingly few EXTRAS. But the film’s sheer exuberance makes it hard not to fall under its spell. B+

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