Thursday, March 14, 2013
Bell, Book and Candle (1958)
James Stewart is publisher Shep Henderson. He’s about to be married, that is until he meets his neighbour downstairs. Gillian (Kim Novak) runs a shop specialising in primitive art. Shep thinks she’s a bit flaky but what he doesn’t know is that she’s a witch. Gillian takes one look at Shep and decides he’s the man for her. The fact that he’s going to be married the next day is a minor detail that can easily be taken care of. She is after all a witch. She casts a spell on him to make him fall in love with her.
Needless to say Shep’s wedding is soon called off and he’s hopelessly in love with Gillian.
Meanwhile Gillian is feeling guilty about snaring Shep by witchcraft because she’s started to fall genuinely in love with him. And everyone knows what happens when a witch falls in love - she loses her powers. But Gillian doesn’t care and she’s determined to tell Shep the truth about herself. Of course he doesn’t believe her but after spending some time with Nicky and with Gillian’s dotty middle-aged witch friend Bianca (Hermione Gingold) he realises it’s all true. Now Gillian is about to lose Shep.
Gillian and her friends might be witches, but they’re harmless good-natured witches (except perhaps for Nicky but even he is chaotic and meddlesome rather than malevolent). These are modern witches and they just want to be left alone with their congenial little subculture. The tone is strictly light-hearted.
Director Richard Quine keeps things bubbling along very nicely. This is the sort of movie that probably didn’t really need to be made in widescreen and Technicolor but with the great James Wong Howe as cinematographer it all looks glorious and no-one is likely to complain.
Bell, Book and Candle is pure fun and is certain to please even the most jaded of romantic comedy fans. Highly recommended and a must-see for one of Kim Novak’s finest performances.