Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tonight's Movie: Bell Book and Candle (1958)

Tonight's movie was BELL BOOK AND CANDLE, one of two films James Stewart and Kim Novak made back to back, the other film being Hitchcock's VERTIGO. To date I'd never seen either movie, so now that I've seen BELL BOOK AND CANDLE, can VERTIGO be far behind?

BELL BOOK AND CANDLE is whimsical entertainment about a publisher (Stewart) who falls in love with a woman (Novak) who happens to be a witch. Or did she put him under a spell?

This enjoyable film is distinguished by its cast -- you know you're in good hands when the supporting cast is headed by Jack Lemmon -- as well as an evocative score by George Duning and a distinctive "look" filmed in Technicolor by James Wong Howe. The movie features Oscar-nominated costumes by Jean Louis; the Art Direction and Set Decoration also received a nomination. I especially loved an unusual metallic Christmas tree featured in the opening scenes.

Stewart and Novak are perfectly cast as the befuddled publisher and the elegant, mysterious woman he loves. The evolution of both characters was very well done, building to a most satisfactory ending.

Ernie Kovacs costars as a forever-tippling writer, while Elsa Lanchester and Hermione Gingold are perfectly cast as witches. Lanchester and Gingold made me think a bit of Aunt Clara and Aunt Hagatha on the '60s TV series BEWITCHED, while Lemmon's mischievous Nicky might have been a calmer version of Uncle Arthur. One wonders if the series was at least partially inspired by BELL BOOK AND CANDLE.

This film was directed by Richard Quine, based on a 1950 John Van Druten play which starred Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer.

The cast also includes Janice Rule and Bek Nelson. The movie runs 106 minutes.

BELL BOOK AND CANDLE has been shown on Turner Classic Movies, which has the trailer available here.

It's available on DVD as part of the Kim Novak Collection in a lovely print.

The movie was previously released as a single-title DVD, as well as on VHS.


Blogger Michele B. said...

Laura this is too strange - I had gotten this from Netflix and watched it last night with my mom (I'm down in NJ). So as usual we seem to be on the same wavelength!

6:08 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I love that!! Pretty neat. :) Hope you enjoyed it too.


9:47 AM  

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