Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Veronica Lake

To keep the promise given in the “Sequel” post, I ordered a black-and-white movie of one of my favourite French film directors, Rene Clair. “I married a witch”, with Veronica Lake and Frederic March, was shot in the US in 1942, and one should be surprised to see how fresh and cinematographically modern is this movie. Clair was an innovator in cinema techniques, and this can already be seen in his early mute movie “Entr’acte” (1924), which is surprisingly entertaining.

In “I married a witch”, the story is about a couple of medieval sorcerers, father and daughter, who were burnt and buried, sending curses to the offender for the following centuries: to him and his descendants to be ever unhappily married. Some centuries later, in modern times, the tree over their grave gets burnt by a lightning, at last releasing their spirits. The plot produces some special effects, which are fun to watch even 60 years after filming. The following love story could be predictable if it was not shot by Clair! Not to mention the final scene where the drunken father’s spirit is locked in a bottle of whisky till the end of his immortal life (because of too restless behaviour).

Veronica Lake is terrific in her beauty, remarkably warm voice, and comic talent - no wonder she was a diva in the 1940s (in LA Confidential, her cult image was reproduced by Kim Basinger).

I wanted to learn more about her life – and discovered a very sad story. Her career wasted away very fast, her family life was disastrous, her health was weak, and later she became a heavy drinker. She lost her Hollywood position, had only occasional roles, and worked as a bartender. When later her TV career started developing, she broke her ankle and had to quit. She died of hepatitis at 53.

I found that there existed a controversy about her birth year. Some sources claimed 1922 and others 1919. I cast both charts:

Firstly, having taken into account her perfectly feminine appearance, manners, and voice, the Venus in Libra in 1919 chart looks believable. Then, Rahu on Algol explains those life extremes. The headless creature on the headless star - this is a black hole. If the chart is cast with those two malefic, close to each other Mars and Saturn, in 7th house, they explain her four husbands, first (John Detlie) being older than her for 12 years, and second (Andre de Toth) – with Sun on Algol in sextile with detrimented Mars in Cancer. Even the nice Venus couldn’t overcome this. The other chart, of 1922, has Venus retro peregrine on Antares, which should provide, according to V.Robson, “insincere, energetic and able but selfish” character. Unfortunately, Veronica Lake was nothing like that.

Therefore, I suggest that the correct chart is that of 1919.

The film is a jewel, real classics and pure fun. Clair’s Moon in Libra certainly knew the secrets of the art…


Laura Elizabeth said...

I just came across your website while looking up information on Vindemiatrix and spotted your entry on Veronica Lake. The movie is such fun - I just love old movies!

Valerie Livina said...

Hello Laura Elizabeth,

I can recommend yet another Clair's masterpiece, Freedom Forever (1931). Very funny - and already the style of the master which would develop into Grand Maneuvres in the 50s.

Thanks for the comment.