Thursday, January 9, 2014

BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE

Judy and I and our friend Jeffrey watched BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE (1958) the other day. Thanks to Jeffrey for bringing with him his DVD of the film.

I recall seeing this film one night on a local television station back in the 1960s. It wasn't a network television broadcast, just a local station running the film to fill a two-hour time slot. I enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it the other day.

Based on a successful Broadway play, first produced in 1950, the film version stars James Stewart and Kim Novak. Stewart is a New York City book publisher who comes under a spell cast by his downstairs neighbor (and witch) Novak. Novak is part of a coven of witches including Elsa Lanchester and Hermione Gingold while her brother, Jack Lemmon, is a warlock in training. Comedian Ernie Kovacs is a besotted author determined to write a book about real witches in New York but even with the help of Lemmon in the writing of the book, publisher Stewart rejects the manuscript as preposterous.

Romantic complications ensue before everything is ironed out in the final reel. BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE is a handsomely mounted production. The leads are all solid (was Novak ever lovelier?) but Stewart struck me as bit old for her. Stewart and Novak had previously worked together that same year on Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece (and his greatest film) VERTIGO and it's interesting to watch them together in a very different film. BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE received two Academy Award nominations: Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. It's not a great film by any stretch of the imagination but it was a sheer delight to watch. Recommended.


2 comments:

  1. This was clearly the prologue to "Bewitched!"

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  2. I agree completely. BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE along with I MARRIED A WITCH were both influences on BEWITCHED.

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