Yessiree, life’s a pretty sweet fruit for Joan … until the evil voice in her head takes up permanent residence for no particular reason. Karen is her name, and she makes Joan think naughty things. When Joan runs away from those she loves in response, Karen makes Joan do naughty things — namely, plant the pair of snips ‘tween the shoulder blades of Bob, who comes looking for her.
Based on a short story by its writer/director, Arch Oboler (who, less than a decade later, would introduce feature audiences to 3-D with the adventure Bwana Devil), Bewitched generates a pleasant amount of pulp hysterics from start to … well, if not quite the finish, close enough to it. The courtroom scenes are a highlight, climaxing in an impressive, innovative shot as the jury prepares to render its verdict.
If Bewitched sheds its thriller skin to reveal a morality play in the final scenes — and boy, does it ever — at least it allows the great Edmund Gwenn (Santa of the classic Miracle on 34th Street) to chew on a monologue about hypnosis. It’s about as wordy and meaningless as the doctor’s expository diarrhea at the close of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, but hey, we’re still talking about that mouthful of a speech decades later. —Rod Lott
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