I forget which channel, but one of ’em was running The Wizard of Oz this weekend. That got me to thinking about the witches I liked in films and books versus the ones I found rather cheesy. Bear in mind, I have never seen Buffy, Charmed, or any of the series so popular with folks these days.
In no real particular order:
10. The Wizard of Oz. While I’ll admit Margaret Hamilton did a tremendous job of scaring the crap out of me when I was young, the older me thinks the Wicked Witch of the West got a really bad rap. I’m not that big on ‘stuff’ but if some kid had just killed my sister and then gotten my inheritance (from a woman who had no right to give it to her), I think I’d be more than a little peeved, too.
9. The Witches of Eastwick. Rather cheesy (both the film and the short-lived series) but on the whole, rather enjoyable. My one carp with the women is that they allowed themselves to be taken in the first place. I’d have punched him out after the first few sentences (or maybe in the case of Paul Gross, the first kiss-and-grope). At least they figured out the devil’s influence at the end and got even.
8. Excalibur I love almost anything related to Merlin and Nicol Williamson does a marvelous job of making Merlin human, as well as a wizard. I must admit, though, that I would like to see someone put Stephen Lawhead’s The Pendragon Cycle to film (or disc as it probably is nowadays) and then once again cast Nicol Williamson as Merlin – at least the older one.
7. Lord of the Rings I’m not a fan of Saruman but Gandalf can duck his head into my hobbit hole any time. The movies did a fair job of staying true to the books and I love that Gandalf can be a lovable old man yet when you get his dander up – watch out!
6. Bewitched. Everyone seems to mention Samantha … putting up with her bumbling, non-magical husband and a variety of interesting relatives. My favorite character was always Endora. She had magic, used it when it pleased her to do so, (dressed in really cool outfits) and basically didn’t give a damn about anyone but herself – unless it was her daughter and grandchildren. I always wanted to have that much chutzpah.
5. Mary Poppins How can people forget the marvelous nanny that made chalk sidewalk drawings spring to life? Not to mention that she was able to calm bratty kids right down. What I wouldn’t give to be able to do that while shopping at the mall.
4. Practical Magic One of the first books & films to combine the hazards of modern everyday living with witchcraft. However, I really disagree with killing someone and burying them on you own property. If you’ve gotta kill, geez, get completely rid of the evidence. They could have called up a nice bonfire!
3. Harry Potter No list could be complete without the students & graduates of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Even the ‘bad’ ones. But Dumbledore has to be a hands-down favorite for being a powerful wizard with a tender heart. If we didn’t have cats, I’d want a Fawkes.
2. The Good Witch and its sequels. No overt magic is shown, yet you know there are subtle forces at work. Roses in snowy February? I wish. But at least its shown that love can grow on its own without any magical pushing. This is about as close to living a real witch’s life as you can get in the entertainment industry.
1. Last but not least The Harry Dresden Files. And by this I mean the books, not the television series. The series was OK but just didn’t show all the stuff in the books or really show Harry as the overworked, underpaid, grumpy but kind-hearted wizard he is. And Bob is always supposed to be a spirit of air, not something that coalesces into a human. You’d thing with all the CGI available today they’d have gotten it right. Nonetheless the reading is so fun … vampires, werewolves, fairies, monsters and gangsters abound. Not to mention his really cool dog.