Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hermione Gingold in Winter of the Witch (1969)

Obscurity factor: 8

Thanks to Lee Kay from Chicago for bringing this one to my attention. Little Nicky and his mother (Anna Strasburg) leave the big city for a new home in the country. They buy one that is rumored to be haunted and upon moving in meet the witch that haunts the place (Hermione Gingold). They relegate her to the attic while they try and make the home pleasant. She becomes depressed and one day Nicky tries to cheer her up. He discovers she used to cook for the other witches that lived in the house, so he asks her to cook for them. She makes blueberry pancakes, but not just ordinary blueberry pancakes - these pancakes make people happy. When Nicky's mother tastes them, she decides to open a pancake parlor.

This film, which was narrated by Burgess Meridith, was recently written up in the NY Times. It has developed the kind of cult following that has made it a legend. It was made by Parent's Magazine and distributed through schools, to be shown at assemblies and when rain kept the children in during recess. It was lost to the sands of time until the internet came along. Hundreds of people were finally vindicated in their memories of this odd little film that none of their friends remembered. Here's a link to the New York Times article.

Obscurity factor: 8 (almost completely forgotten until it was featured in the times, available on DVD)

12 comments:

  1. So whippy! I can't believe I watched the whole thing! That paint-roller on glass scene is a fun technique, I wonder if Brini Maxwell has ever used it ...? Love Anna Strasburg's smart blue housecoat, she sure looks a lot like Kiki DuRane in some of those scenes! You really made my day, Ben Sander :)

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  2. Yes, it's trippy. Somehow the awful, jacked up print adds to the effect. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  3. I remember seeing this on the "CBS Children's Film Festival" which was one of my favorite Saturday-morning shows as a kid. Also gave me a taste for foreign film...

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  4. My first experience with the film was that NY Times article above. It was totally new to me. Foreign film?

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  5. "CBS Children's Film Festival" showed all sorts of short and sometimes feature-length kid-oriented films from around the world (although sometimes heavily edited for length; the show had an hour-long time slot), including the US, and sometimes award-winning stuff like the Oscar-winning "The Red Balloon". And yeah, they showed "Winter of the Witch" once. Not quite like some of their other stuff, but I do remember it. CBSCFF in its heyday was hosted by Kukla, Fran, & Ollie and ran from 1971 to 1984.

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  6. Hmm, I never watched it. I guess I was always in search of cartoons.

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  7. I used to love that show. I specifically remember a Japanese film called "Skinny and Fatty."

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  8. My favorite was "Three Wishes for Cinderella," a Czech version of the old fairy tale that now has a cult following, and is out on DVD. I loved it too, and it's a concept that could stand revival these days.

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  9. I will have to look for that one. Thanks for mentioning it.

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  10. I have been searching for this for YEARS!!!!!!! I remember watching it in elementary school. I am 33 yrs old and remember this and LOVE it. I am so happy to have finally found it. :)

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  11. I'm glad you found it on my site! Thanks for the comment...

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  12. I was thinking about this movie today and could only remember that their was a witch a mom and son. I used Google (like everyone does) and i came to your site and 2 others and found out this was it! I never dreamed of seeing this again. I was 5 a the time so that would be with my birthday in July....40 years ago. WOW! That was a long time ago!

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