Bell, Book and Candle

On the eve of his marriage, a groom-to-be becomes smitten with another woman, unaware that he’s falling under the spell of a charming witch! Starring James Stewart, Kim Novak, Ernie Kovacs and Jack Lemmon. 1958 (1 hour 43 minutes).

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3 Responses to Bell, Book and Candle

  1. Matthew L. Mutchmore

    Charming, colorful, quirky…..bewitching. Adapted from the stage comedy of the same name, Bell Book and Candle stars Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, fresh from their successful teaming in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Novak plays Gillian Holroyd, a genuine, bonafide witch who runs a south seas antiquities shop. Falling in love with her neighbor, publisher Sheperd Henderson (Stewart), Gillian casts a spell on him. With help from her aunt (Elsa Lanchester), she obliges him to dump his fiancee, and ex college rival, and rush to her side. All of this goes against the grain of Gillian’s Endora-like mentor Mrs. DePass (Hermione Gingold), who does her best to counterract the love spell. Meanwhile, Gillian’s wacky warlock brother Nicky (Jack Lemmon) courts disaster by coauthoring a book on black magic with Sidney Redlitch (Ernie Kovacs). Legend has it that a witch can neither cry or fall in love. If she falls in love, she will lose her powers….can you guess what happens?

  2. R. DelParto "Rose2"

    Quirky Romantic Film If watching unpredictable films are your cup of tea, Bell, Book and Candle is the one to watch. The teaming of James Stewart and Kim Novak is excellent. The supporting roles from Elsie Manchester and Jack Lemmon bring a touch of comedy to the movie. And the sloppiness of Ernie Kovacs as the snooping author brings dimension to the story.

  3. Lonnie E. Holder "The Review's the Thing"

    Bewitching Shepherd “Shep” Henderson (Jimmy Stewart) is a nice, normal, everyday kind of guy. He is a publisher with everyday problems and works in an everyday kind of office. His fiancé, on the other hand, is much less than everyday, being the beautiful, and slightly obnoxious, Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule). When Shep’s neighbor Gilliam “Gil” Holroyd (the always stunning Kim Novak) becomes irked with Merle, she decides to cast a spell on Shep to make him fall in love with her. Be careful what you ask for, sometimes you get it.At the beginning of this movie Merle acts in a way that makes the audience generally dislike her. While we have yet to like Gil, we know that Merle is a manipulator. Thus, we find it easy to accept what Gil does to Shep and indirectly to Merle. Unfortunately for Gil, the more she is around Shep, the more she grows to like, and then love him. Of course, there is the inevitable heart breaking scene when Shep discovers, and believes, that she is a witch. There are moments near the end of the movie where you want the two to get together, but you wonder whether it can possibly happen. Kim Novak’s Gil is perfectly played in the closing moments, where all of us want to smack Shep and tell him to wake up to the fact that Gil truly loves him and that love has changed her forever.This movie features an excellent cast of supporting characters. Jack Lemmon is Gil’s brother Nicky Holroyd. Nicky is the kind of warlock who enjoys doing little things, such as turning lights off and on, and tricking people. However, Nicky is humorously harmless. Hermione Gingold is Bianca de Passe, a rival witch to Gil, who has a more traditional approach to witch craft that appears relatively old-fashioned compared to Gil’s modern sophistication. Shep turns to Bianca to help remove the spell Gil has cast on him. Elsa Lanchester is Queenie, a slightly bumbling witch who admires, assists and may be slightly afraid of Gil. Ernie Kovacs is writer Sidney Ridlitch who has been working with Nicky on a book about witches. Gil will never allow the book to be published, so the scenes with Sidney are an exercise in humor and futility.Then there is Pyewacket the cat, Gil’s familiar. The name comes from an interrogation by witch finder Matthew Hopkins in England during the 17th century. The name seemed to fit witches’ cats, and other such cats have been name Pyewacket since, though Hopkins did not record what kind of animal Pyewacket was to have been.The words “Bell, Book and Candle” refer to an exorcism. The movie opens with striking the bell, opening the book, and lighting the candle. The movie ends with striking the bell, closing the book, and blowing out the candle, which is supposed to be how to remove a witch’s powers.This movie was Jimmy Stewart’s last appearance as a romantic lead. His costars were getting younger, with some half his age, and Jimmy felt the pairing was inappropriate. For the final third of his career he played father figures or average Joes.”Bell, Book and Candle” is a charming romantic comedy that is interesting from several viewpoints. It is an interesting artifact of sophisticated New York, and the highly idealized way New York society appeared to be in the 1950′s. The treatment of witches is somewhat different from other portrayals, where witches are often old hags bent over a cauldron in a smelly cave or broken-down hovel. The hip Zodiac Club had avant-garde music with a strong beatnik flavor. Few movies captured the essence of the beatnik style, with this movie being one of them. Jack Kerouac could easily have been in the audience.This movie is a winner that showcases Kim Novak’s talents even more than Jimmy Stewart’s. Most of the movie is lightly humorous, but the end of the movie is emotionally powerful as Kim Novak’s emotional performance pushes the light comedy aside. This movie is a wonderful treat from an era when sophistication still meant high style, and we could still be amazed by happy endings even when we expected them.

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