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Campy Witch-Classics: Joan Fontaine vs. the Witch-Cult

By Zan

I hope this is not abetting some dreadful act of Internet piracy: but I notice that Hammer Films’ 1966 Camp Witch-Classic The Witches (released in the U.S. as “The Devil’s Own”), starring early ’40s Hollywood Star Joan Fontaine, is up on YouTube (put there by someone who is not I). As it is there: well, it’s a convenient opportunity for Jugglers to check out this marvelously Campy late-’60s English Witch Flick.

Why is this Witch-Flick so campily good? Well, it does have Ms. Fontaine in the lead, who is a very skillful, talented actress, with a solid professional career and a certain degree of fame (including an Oscar). She is definitely committed to the part, and is never less than convincing and sympathetic (many times she is excellent). The thing is, she acts in a very Old School Hollywood style that went out of date with the revolution of the Method, and actors such as Clift, Brando, and Dean; her performance, while brilliantly proficient and admirable by the standards of the 1930s: looks a little over-the-top to us. But like the Mad Men Era chic of her wardrobe, it adds to the Vintage feel of the piece.

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