Friday, November 6, 2020


 by Anthony King

“We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and break our hearts and love the wrong people and die!” - Ronny Cammareri

There is no greater feeling in life than love. To love someone so unconditionally to the point of obsession, whether a lover, a child, a sibling, parent, or friend, is undeniably the greatest feeling a human will ever experience. There is one word that I believe sums up love perfectly: magical. Love is magical. The devotion and protection and empathy created by love can only happen because of magic. There's no other way. And these two movies sum up the magic of love perfectly.

We start the evening off with I Married a Witch from 1942 directed by Rene Clair. The film begins in the 17th century with a Monty Python-esque stake burning of Daniel (Cecil Kellaway) and his daughter Jennifer (Veronica Lake), both accused of witchcraft. Just before their death, they put a curse upon the descendants of Jonathan Wooley (Fredric March), stating that no Wooley will ever be happily in love. We fast forward through the years and other Wooley men (all played by March) and their loveless marriages until landing on Wallace Wooley (still March) on the eve of his marriage while attending a campaign dinner for his bid as governor. The tree that grew in the place of the stake burning is split by lightning outside the party, freeing the spirits of Daniel and Jennifer in the form of smoke. Jennifer convinces her father to give her a body so she can torment Wallace. Though she succeeds in her teasing and prodding of the current Wooley, Jennifer soon falls in love with Wallace.
Let's get this out of the way immediately: Veronica Lake is an absolute smokeshow and any human that watches this will fall in love with her. I adore I Married a Witch because, while clearly fictional, it still shows the magical power of love. Wallace is engaged to a bitter shrew of a woman only because her father is powerful and can help him get to the governor's mansion. And unfortunately I think a lot of relationships in the real world are similar. People become entangled with someone else because it benefits them in some form. I have fallen prey to those sorts of situations in the past -- on both sides. But I couldn't be luckier having experienced the magic of true, unconditional love in my own marriage for the past 10 years. I Married a Witch is a fairy tale, yes, but the truth is clear: unless there's magic in your relationship, it's clearly doomed.

We follow one magical film with another in Norman Jewison's 1987 masterpiece, Moonstruck. I say masterpiece because it is in my top three favorite films of all time. I watch it at least once a year and usually I'll watch it twice in one sitting. Moonstruck is about Loretta (Cher), a middle-aged woman who has just settled for a perfectly fine suitor, Johnny (Danny Aiello). Before they get married Johnny needs to fly to Sicily to say goodbye to his dying mother. He asks Loretta to invite his brother to the wedding; a brother he hasn't spoken to for five years. Loretta goes to see the brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage), and discovers he's a bit of a nutcase. She falls in love with the nutcase, though, and thus begins Loretta's navigation through the tricky world of love.

The “magic” in Moonstruck comes in the form of a story told by Loretta's uncle about a night her father (Vincent Gardenia) was courting her mother (Olympia Dukakis) and how big and bright the moon was that night. That moon, the uncle says, causes people to fall in love. And that moon just so happens to be shining the night Loretta and Ronny first sleep together. Again, pure fiction, but I get lost in the magical fairytale-ness of it all. It's stories like this that are a great reminder (especially right now) about how damn lucky I am to have a wife like Bobbie.
While we should never confuse romanticized worlds in movies and books and TV shows with the world in which we live, I see no harm in striving to create a romantic world for yourself. My favorite scenes in Moonstruck are those that take place at the Castorini house. Like any story revolving around Italians, scenes at the house always take place in the kitchen. Loretta and her father toast with glasses of champagne (with sugar cubes, of course, to ward off evil). Loretta's mother cooks breakfast – the first time it's eggs in a nest, the second time it's oatmeal – and they discuss Loretta's love conundrum. I want a relationship like that for me and my kids when they're older. It's simple and silly, but I love it.

Love is magical. Plain and simple. And it doesn't just have to be a romantic-type of love. Love between friends and family contains magic, too. It's fun to see that type of magic in movies and then realize you have that magic in your own life.


  1. I just watched "I married a witch" last month. I didn't know if it could count as a scary movie, because beside some witchery, it is simply a fun and cute movie. Funny to read this piece about this movie (and love in general) now.

  2. I watch I Married a Witch regularly..... I put it in the category of films where women who are in anyway special, suffer for being special and usually deprived of their specialness by the end of the picture. I think Thornton Smith's novel may have invented the trope of a witch losing her powers if she falls in love...which Van Druten used in the Bell Book and Candle stageplay... and raises it's head again in Hoffman's Practical Magic book, a witch in love can't have a happy marriage. screw the patriarchy.... and yeah... Lake and/or March...I'd hit that....