The Witch Who Made Happy Pancakes


Halloween is approaching, and I have been thinking about memories from my childhood.

Sometime in the 1970’s I saw a movie that featured  a witch that made people happy by serving them magic pancakes.  The witch was played by Broadway star Hermione Gingold. It was a murky memory that would revisit me on into adulthood.  This experience, it turns out, has been shared by thousands of people who were born between 1966 and 1972.  We all remember being shown this film.  I read one online comment say “and it seems to serve no educational value at all.”

The film, entitled The Winter of the Witch was filmed in upstate New York in the winter (there is steam visible when the actors speak).  I watched the film last night, and discovered online that I am one of many who were impacted by it.  Stories are powerful.  Why did they show us this film as little children? Was it to expose us to the positive effects of drug use?  Or was it to teach us to accept others, even those who intend to eventually do evil? There is enough stuff here to keep conspiracy theorists going for hours.

It sure made an impression.   Others mention the two other mainstains of 1970’s public school cinema: Paddle to the Sea, and The Red Balloon.  These films also haunted me into adulthood.  I’ll post about Paddle to the Sea close to Thanksgiving.

My take aways after seeing it in adulthood:  They made the most of a low budget.  The color “happy dot” sequences impacted me as a child, and definitely have an LSD quality.  And the witch never gets rehabilitated, I won’t spoil the ending.

Here it is, although not a good print.

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