May 2010


Today is the amazing Jimmy Stewart’s birthday. Since TCM so thoughtfully decided to play a marathon of Stewart’s movies (and I have the day off!) I decided to watch one of his movies I have never seen before. The fact that the movie also stars Kim Novak and Jack Lemmon is an added bonus!

I have actually never even heard of this film: Bell, Book, and Candle. The central plot revolves around two witches, warlock, and an unsuspecting book publisher (Stewart).

The scene opens on Christmas Eve as Gillian (Novak) laments her loneliness. She is an art dealer and also, a witch. She is clearly interested in her upstairs neighbor Shep Henderson (Stewart) but he is already engaged. When Gillian meets Shep’s fiancee, she recognizes her as an old school chum who she disliked in the past.

Gillian wonders if she could make him love her without any tricks. But when Shep tells her he is getting married the next day, she decides to cast a spell on Shep to make him quickly fall in love with her. Shep is spellbound!

As most romantic comedies play out, Gillian and Shep fall in love for real. But Gillian is torn between her love and having to hide her powers from him if they are married. But she decides to take the risk and marry Shep. And she takes a bigger risk in telling him that she is a witch. He is angry at first and tries to get rid of Gillian’s love spell. But since a condition of the undoing spell is to confront Gillian, Shep and she are able to talk and realize they are still in love despite what they have been through.

Lemmon stars as Gillian’s warlock brother Nicky and Elsa Lancaster stars as their Aunt Queenie who is also a witch (she is much like the character of Endora from the TV series Bewitched).

Lemmon’s character is great, but I wish he had been given more material. He is known for his comedies, but his character is a bit limited in this film. Lancaster is great her portrayal of the busybody aunt. Novak’s performance is also good; she is clearly torn by wanting to give up her powers and live normally and also wanting to make Shep love her.

Bell was made the same year as Novak and Stewart’s widely popular film Vertigo directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Though this film never gained the¬†notoriety¬†or acclaim as Vertigo, Bell is a cute funny film worth watching.

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Happy Birthday to one of the greatest of all times- Audrey!