Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


WEIRD WOMAN (1944). Director: Reginald LeBorg.

Undoubtedly the best "Inner Sanctum" feature, this is the first film version of Frtiz Leiber's novel "Conjure Wife." Lon Chaney Jr. is a college professor who marries Paula (Anne Gwynne), much to the consternation of gal pal Ilona (Evelyn Ankers, in one of her best roles). When Chaney has one bit of good fortune after another, he discovers his wife is using witchcraft to ward off his enemies' influences. A disgusted Chaney destroys all of Paula's magic talismans -- and boy does his luck begin to change for the worse. This study of small town college jealousies and romantic rivalries with a supernatural twist is compelling and creepy, with good performances and a suspenseful climax. Chaney isn't bad (although his whispered utterances are as annoying as ever and he's not very credible as a romantic figure), and in addition to the above-named performances there is solid work from Elisabeth Risdon as the blunt Dean of Women, Ralph Morgan as a professor, Elizabeth Russell as his ambitious wife, Lois Collier as an amorous student, and Phil Brown as her jealous boyfriend. This was remade as Burn, Witch, Burn and again as a comic version, Witches' Brew.

Verdict: Quite good little B movie. ***.

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