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Bell Book And Candle

Bell Book And Candle

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Bell Book And Candle  Gillian Holroyd is just your average, modern-day, witch, living in a New York apartment with her Siamese familiar, Pyewacket. But one day a handsome publisher, Shep Henderson walks into her building and Gillian decides she wants him–especially as it turns out he’s marrying Merle Kittridge, an old poison penpal from Gillian’s college days. So, Gillian casts a spell over Shep. But her powers are in danger of being exorcised by something stronger than the bell-book-and-candle routine:

STARS: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon

106 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance | 1958 | Color


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Puberty Catalyst
I researched this film a little and discovered a web site that claims it was actually an inside joke about the Post WWII Greenwich Village world of gays and lesbians. With the exception of Stewart and Novak, the warlocks and witches represented that alternative lifestyle. John Van Druten who wrote the stage play was apparently gay and very familiar with this Greenwich Village. I thought this was ironic because I first saw Bell, Book and Candle in the theater when I was in 5th or 6th grade just because my parents took me. It was hard to get me to a movie that didn't include horses, machine guns, or alien monsters and I planned on being bored. But, I remember the moment when Jimmy Stewart embraced Kim Novak on the top of the Flatiron building and flung his hat away while the camera followed it fluttering to the ground. As the glorious George Duning love theme soared, I suddenly got a sense of what it felt like to fall in love. The first stirrings of romantic/sexual love left me dazed as I left the theater. I am sure I'm not the only pre-adolescent boy who was seduced by Kim Novak's startling, direct gaze. It's ironic that a gay parable was able to jump-start heterosexual puberty in so many of us. I am in my late 50's now and re-watched the film yesterday evening and those same feelings stirred as I watched that hat touch down fifty years later . . .

Although BEWITCHED was years away from this cult film, it has long been bantered about that "parts" of BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE may have, inadvertently, lead to the classic tv series. One thing, it's rich with atmosphere and just as wild.
If you're a film buff, interestingly, this can also be considered as a deuces wild re-working of THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH -- now with a female attracted to a male neighbor instead.
Beautiful, enchanting witch Kim Novack has her eyes set on new neighbor James Stewart. He's also in love with Janice Rule, which complicates matters.... so Novack does her thing. She does not twinkle her nose, though. This is a hilarious ride with neat touches of fantasy slash comedy, and with a dynamic supporting cast. It's a race to the finish as to who outdoes who; kooky Hermoine Gingold or Elsa Lancaster. Hats off to Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacks. Watch their priceless expressions.
Cary Grant was originally considered for the lead, Grace Kelly for his co-star, which would have been fascinating. However, James Stewart gets the job done, and in a much more lighter role than in VERTIGO, his other classic film with Kim Novack. What a team they make.
Long considered an "adult" Halloween comedy, but its breezy fun any time of the year. Oscar nominated for Best Set Decoration, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Both Novack and Stewart should have at least gotten honorable mention.
Top direction by Richard Quine, who next directed Kim Novack in THE NOTORIOUS LANDLADY.
Always on dvd and remastered blu ray and thanks to MOVIES Net for rerunning this gem of gems.

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