Witch Without a Broom – Review

Witch Without a Broom
Witch Without a Broom

Aka Una bruja sin escoba
Spain / USA
Produced by Sidney Pink for A Lacy Internacional Films, SA (Spain) and Cinemagic (USA) production
Director: José María Elorrieta
Story & screenplay: José Luis Elorrieta, José María Navarro
Cinematography: Alfonso Nieva
Music: Fernando García Morcillo
Editor : Juan María Pisón (Spanish version), John Horvath (US version)
Spanish release date: 12/02/68 (Valencia)
Cast: Jeffrey Hunter (Carver Logan), Maria Perschy (Marianna), Gustavo Rojo (Caius), Perla Cristal (Octavio), Reginald Gillam (Don Ignacio), Al Muloc [Al Mulock] (Wurlitz the Wizard), Carl Rapp (the slave merchant), John Clark (a chariot master), Gillian Simpson, May Johnson, Lewis [Luis] Gordon, Susan Talbot, Marisol Ayuso, Frank Braña (Don Ignacio’s man), Paloma Cela, Hérculs Cortés (a caveman), Félix Dafauce (Necio), Alfonso de la Vega (a Roman legionary), Laura Gimeno, Doris Kent, Pilar Laguna, Ángel Menéndez (Dr. Martinez), José Moralez, Cristina Muñoz, Julio Pérez Tabernero, Esperanza Roy (Valeria), Elena Rubí

This was one of several films made in Spain by the charismatic producer Sidney Pink.  Intended for showing on US television rather than domestically on the big screen, they all featured a US / British leading man, a familiar cast of Spanish character actors (Gustavo Rojo, Angel Menéndez) and lightweight, generally forgettable scripts.  In this case, the director was José Maria Elorietta, a workaday filmmaker who dabbled in a variety of genres, often using the pseudonym Joe Lacey.  He also worked with Pink on the crime thriller Candidate for a Killing (Un sudario a la medida, 69) and medieval adventure Sharaz (La esclava del paraíso, 68)

History professor Garver Logan (Jeffrey Hunter) is distracted by a beautiful girl making eyes at him during a lecture.  A beautiful girl who nobody else can see.  It turns out that she’s actually Marianna (Maria Perschy), a wannabe witch from the middle ages who’s playing around with her wizard father’s equipment (and who has a penchant for Coca-Cola).  While taking a quick trip to the twentieth century, she’s fallen for the Professor and tries to bring him back into her own time.

After a short distraction – a temporary stopover in 1549 where he’s arrested for robbing the dead and threatened with painful execution – he arrives at her castle, understandably peeved about the whole thing.  And he doesn’t get any happier when she uses her magic cauldron to show him his girlfriend dancing with another man.  An attempt to return him to the swinging sixties goes dreadfully wrong and Marianna and Garver are transported to assorted periods throughout history.

First stop is the prehistoric age, where they come up against a bunch of cannibalistic cavemen (who somehow manage to play sixties-era psychedelic music on their stone instruments).  In Roman times Garver is sold as a slave and forced to take part in a chariot race.  Finally, he ends up in 2019, when the whole human race has been wiped out apart from seven female astronauts.  They’re rather excited to come face to face with their first authentic man.

Maria Perschy and Jeffrey Hunter in Witch Without a Broom
Maria Perschy and Jeffrey Hunter in Witch Without a Broom

An amalgamation of Bewitched (64), I Dream of Jeannie (65) and The Time Tunnel (66), Witch Without a Broom is a mildly entertaining piece of nonsense that uses it’s time-travel scenario to reference assorted popular films of the time, most particularly One Million Years BC (66) and Ben Hur (59).  The effects are rudimentary (red smoke, mostly), but there’s a large cast and the costumes – some of which must have been recycled from the aforementioned Sharaz – aren’t noticeably threadbare.  It’s also mercifully short at a meager 79 odd-minutes and doesn’t have the slightest chance of outliving its welcome.

Despite unquestionably being a children’s movie it also has a few racier elements as well.  The story is basically the same, whatever the historical backdrop, with the men wanting to rip off Marianna’s clothes and women trying to tempt Garver into their ‘bedchambers’.  This could have been used as the launch-pad for all kinds of saucy shenanigans, but although there is a good deal of humor it’s all played in such a chaste manner that it’s more suited to a Saturday morning rather than late night broadcast.

Jeffrey Hunter, best known for his much derided performance in the even more derided King of Kings (61), is good value here.  He seems to be enjoying himself as the thoroughly bemused lead who continually tries – without any success whatsoever – to talk himself out of all kinds of trouble.   This wasn’t his only attempt to break into European cinema; he also appeared in Giuliano Carnimeo’s above average Spaghetti Western Find a Place to Die (Joe… cercati un posto per morire!, 68) and another Pink escapade, The Christmas Kid (Joe Navidad, 67).  Maria Perschy is very attractive as the titular witch, and puts on a spirited show even when being pawed by one of the fattest, ugliest cavemen you could imagine.  Her father is played by Al Mulock, the striking looking Canadian who popped up in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo, 66) as a one armed bounty hunter – and Once Upon a Time in the West (C’era una volt ail West, 68), during the filming of which he committed suicide.

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