31 Days of Halloween with
The Kelly Society
Who loves witches on film? I do! And I can hear all of you cheering with me!
Hi, I’m Shawn (Vivien Kelly’s assistant and psychic protégé). Today I want to showcase some of my favorite witches in movies. They conjure, delight, stumble, frighten, and many times redeem themselves. They also love to play out our hidden passions on the big screen.
Veronica Lake in I Married a Witch, 1942
Just as she is about to be burned at the stake for witchcraft, 17th century witch Jennifer (Veronica Lake) casts a curse on the family of her accuser, dooming all the men of future generations to marry the wrong women. Freed from her ethereal prison some 250 years later, Jennifer decides to make the most recent descendant of her accuser (Fredric March) even more miserable by using a love potion on him that makes him fall in love with her, a plan that has unexpected results—like getting him elected in a local political race and falling in love herself.
This charming, spooky, and romantic story is a joy to watch every Halloween!
Kim Novak in Bell Book and Candle, 1958
In the late 1950s, Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is a modern-day witch living in New York City's Greenwich Village. When she encounters charming publisher Shepherd Henderson (James Stewart), she decides to make him hers by casting a love spell. Gillian takes added pleasure in doing so because Henderson is engaged to her old college rival (Janice Rule). However, Gillian finds herself actually falling for Shepherd, which poses a problem: She will lose her powers if she falls in love.
First, let me say how much I love Gillian’s cat Pyewacket in this movie! That feline (who played her familiar) was a major character as far as I'm concerned. But, the humans also did great acting jobs. How can you go wrong with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak! They fired up the screen with magic and sexual tension. I didn’t watch this one last year for some reason, but this All Hallow’s Eve I shall share the season with the witches of Bell Book and Candle.
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007
Now in his fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) learns that many in the wizarding community do not know the truth of his encounter with Lord Voldemort. Cornelius Fudge, minister of Magic, appoints his toady, Dolores Umbridge, as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, for he fears that professor Dumbledore will take his job. But her teaching is deficient and her methods, cruel, so Harry prepares a group of students to defend the school against a rising tide of evil.
Dolores Umbridge does not redeem herself and the only passion she stirs in us is anger! Her disgusting Pepto-Bismol outfit and vicious cruelty toward the Hogwarts students makes her the witch we most detest in the Harry Potter world!
Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler, and Sarah Jessica Parker in Hocus Pocus, 1993
After moving to Salem, MA, teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani (Thora Birch) and their new friend, Allison (Vinessa Shaw). After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches' book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.
Or course, I could not leave out the Sanderson Sisters! The witches we all have a love/hate relationship with! They sing, they dance, they scare us, and they are funny! I watch this movie every Halloween and will probably never stop.
Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic, 1998
Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian Owens (Nicole Kidman), born into a magical family, have mostly avoided witchcraft themselves. But when Gillian's vicious boyfriend, Jimmy Angelov (Goran Visnjic), dies unexpectedly, the Owens sisters give themselves a crash course in hard magic. With policeman Gary Hallet (Aidan Quinn) growing suspicious, the girls resurrect Angelov, who's ghost in turn threatens to end their family line.
And last, but definitely not least—I present the Practical Magic sisters! This movie is a must every All Hallows Eve, as well as year round. The exquisite magic of this cast, story, and setting (in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest) create a fantasy filled with joy, heartache, love, and spooky chills—all wrapped up in strong female characters. A mystical and thrilling delight from beginning to end.
My sisters and I have held Practical Magic parties, and yes, we make Midnight Margaritas while watching the film! I recommend hosting your own Practical Magic party this Halloween season.
Have an enchanting season this October and remember:
“There’s a little witch in all of us.”
Aunt Jet Owens