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I Married a Witch [Blu-ray]
(RenÚ Clair, 1942)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Rene Clair Productions
Video: Criterion Collection Spine #676
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 22,127,392,210 bytes
Feature Size: 19,850,999,808 bytes
Video Bitrate: 30.49 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: October 8th, 2013
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), none
• Audio interview with director RenÚ Clair (20:18)
Description: Veronica Lake casts a seductive spell as a charmingly vengeful sorceress in this supernatural screwball classic. Many centuries after cursing the male descendants of the Salem puritan who sent her to the stake, this blonde bombshell with a broomstick finds herself drawn to one of them—a prospective governor (Fredric March) about to marry a spoiled socialite (Susan Hayward). The most delightful of the films the innovative French director RenÚ Clair made in Hollywood, I Married a Witch is a comic confection bursting with playful special effects and sparkling witticisms.
As she burns at the stake, a 17th century witch, Jennifer (Veronica Lake), places a curse on her accuser (Fredric March), so that from this day forward, all of his descendants (each played by him) will be unhappy in marriage. After several hilarious through-the-years examples (the Civil War-era Fredric March runs off to battle rather than endure his wife's nagging), we are brought up to 1942. Wallace Wooley (March) is a gubernatorial candidate, preparing to wed snooty socialite Estelle Masterson (Susan Hayward) -- the well-to-do daughter of a publisher who is backing him. A bolt of lightning strikes the tree where Jennifer had been executed three centuries earlier, thereby freeing the spirits of Jennifer and her warlock father, Daniel (Cecil Kellaway). Wallace meets Jennifer when she materializes in a burning building, obliging him to save her life. The revivified sorceress does everything in her power to induce Wallace to fall in love with her -- even destroying the ceremony in which the wedding is supposed to take place. The attempts succeed, and the two marry, but on their wedding night, Wallace refuses to believe Jennifer's claims that she is a witch. Frustrated, she attempts to convince him by doctoring the gubernatorial election -- in his favor. Based on the Thorne Smith novel The Passionate Witch, the rollicking I Married a Witch can be considered the forerunner of the TV series Bewitched, but only on a surface level. The film had been scheduled to be directed by Preston Sturges and to be released by its producing studio, Paramount; the end result was helmed by RenÚ Clair (his second Hollywood film), and was distributed by United Artists.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Heresy here: Clair's '30s musical comedies have always been acclaimed as enormously original, innovative classics, far superior to his American films. But where those French films now seem dated and Chaplinesque in their twee sentimentality and na´ve desire to make a serious point, the American films remain delightful: unpretentious, pacy and genuinely witty. I Married a Witch sees Clair at his peak, with an ambitious, puritanical politician (March) being plagued by the mischievous Lake, a witch reincarnated and bent on revenge after being burned at the stake by his ancestors. Lake is delightfully effective as the malicious woman, whose ideas of punishment are often beautifully absurd, and March provides an excellent foil.Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
I Married a Witch looks solid on Blu-ray from Criterion. The image shows some pleasing grain and contrast is at a high level. This is single-layered with a high bitrate and we can guess that it is a solid representation of the film. There is some infrequent depth and no noise or compression artefacts. I doubt this film can look any better for your home theatre enjoyment. It is clean and the rich textures maintain its film-like visuals. It is in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio and the resulting HD presentation is without major or minor flaw.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio is transferred via a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. It sounds consistent with the only weakness (less crisp dialogue) inherent in the production. The original score by Roy Webb (Clash by Night, This Is Cinerama, Easy Living, The Window, Journey Into Fear, I Walked with a Zombie etc.) is delightful and seems to play flawlessly via the lossless. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.
Light on the extras (for Criterion) with a 20-minute audio interview with director RenÚ Clair, a very poor quality trailer and the package contains a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by filmmaker Guy Maddin and a 1970 interview with Clair.
September 18th, 2013
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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