That Old Black Magic

René Clair’s I Married a Witch is among the buried treasures of 1940s American filmmaking. As the title promises, this is the most fanciful of screwball comedies, one with a peculiar charm that may take you by surprise. Known as an inventive poet of early sound cinema in France, thanks to such sharp, creative films as Under the Roofs of Paris (1930), Le million (1931), and À nous la liberté (1931), Clair had a reputation that preceded him to Hollywood, and I Married a Witch overflows with the same comic irreverence and fleet storytelling as his earlier films. Check out the clever opening sequence, in which the director satisfyingly sets up the film’s central conceits—a witch’s curse; an epic battle of the sexes—with great comic velocity.

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