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Bell, Book and Candle

Bell, Book and Candle

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Bell, Book and Candle is a romantic comedy
Romantic Comedy
Romantic Comedy can refer to* Romantic Comedy , a 1979 play written by Bernard Slade* Romantic Comedy , a 1983 film adapted from the play and starring Dudley Moore and Mary Steenburgen...

 directed by Richard Quine
Richard Quine
Richard Quine was an American stage, film, and radio actor and film director.Quine was born in Detroit. He made his Broadway debut in the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II musical Very Warm for May in 1939 and appeared in My Sister Eileen the following year...

 based on the hit Broadway play by John Van Druten. It starred James Stewart
James Stewart (actor)
James Maitland Stewart was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive voice and his everyman persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime...

 and Kim Novak
Kim Novak
Kim Novak is an American film and television actress. She began her career with her roles in Pushover and Phffft! but achieved greater prominence in the 1955 film Picnic...

 in their second on-screen pairing (after the Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE was a British film director and producer. He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in British cinema in both silent films and early talkies, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood...

 classic Vertigo, released earlier the same year). The film, adapted by Daniel Taradash
Daniel Taradash
Daniel Taradash was an American screenwriter.Taradash's credits include Golden Boy , From Here to Eternity , Rancho Notorious , Don't Bother to Knock , Désirée , Picnic , Storm Center , which he also directed, Bell, Book and Candle , Morituri , Hawaii...

, was Stewart's last film as a romantic lead. Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is an American film production and distribution company. Columbia Pictures now forms part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony. It is one of the leading film companies...

 head Harry Cohn
Harry Cohn
Harry Cohn was the American president and production director of Columbia Pictures.-Career:Cohn was born to a working-class German-Jewish family in New York City. In later years, he appears to have disparaged his heritage...

 allowed Novak to appear in Vertigo (as a last-minute replacement for pregnant Vera Miles
Vera Miles
Vera Miles is an American film actress who gained popularity for starring in films such as The Searchers, The Wrong Man, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Psycho and Psycho II.-Early life:...

) in exchange for Stewart appearing in this film with Novak.

Fans of the film point to similarities between it and the earlier I Married A Witch
I Married a Witch
I Married a Witch is a 1942 fantasy romantic comedy film, directed by René Clair, and starring Veronica Lake as a witch whose plan for revenge goes comically awry, with Fredric March as her foil. The film also features Robert Benchley, Susan Hayward and Cecil Kellaway...

(1942) and especially the 1960s television series Bewitched
Bewitched
Bewitched is an American situation comedy originally broadcast for eight seasons on ABC from 1964 to 1972, starring Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York and Dick Sargent , Agnes Moorehead, and David White. The show is about a witch who marries a mortal and tries to lead the life of a typical suburban...

(produced by Columbia's television division), speculating that this film may have been an inspiration. The original 1950 play starred Rex Harrison
Rex Harrison
Sir Reginald Carey “Rex” Harrison was an English actor of stage and screen. Harrison won an Academy Award and two Tony Awards.-Youth and stage career:...

, his then wife Lilli Palmer
Lilli Palmer
Lilli Palmer , born Lilli Marie Peiser, was a German actress. She won the Volpi Cup, the Deutscher Filmpreis three times, and was nominated twice for a Golden Globe Award.-Life and career:...

, Jean Adair
Jean Adair
Jean Adair was a Canadian actress.Born as Violet McNaughton, she worked primarily on stage but also made several film appearances late in her career, most notably as one of Cary Grant's dotty old aunts in Arsenic and Old Lace, a role she originated on Broadway...

, and Larry Gates
Larry Gates
Larry Gates was an American actor probably best known for his role as H.B. Lewis on daytime's Guiding Light and as Doc Baugh in the film version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof...

.

Plot


The film opens during the Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 holiday season. Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village, , , , .in New York often simply called "the Village", is a largely residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan in New York City. A large majority of the district is home to upper middle class families...

 witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak
Kim Novak
Kim Novak is an American film and television actress. She began her career with her roles in Pushover and Phffft! but achieved greater prominence in the 1955 film Picnic...

), a free spirit with a penchant for going barefoot, has been unlucky in love and restless in life. She admires from afar her neighbor, publisher Shep Henderson (James Stewart
James Stewart (actor)
James Maitland Stewart was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive voice and his everyman persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime...

), who one day walks into her gallery of primitive art to use the telephone. When she learns he is about to marry an old college enemy of hers, Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule
Janice Rule
-Early life and career:Born in Norwood, Ohio, her career included stage, screen and television work. Rule studied ballet and began dancing in Chicago nightclubs in her teens. She soon attracted attention in Hollywood and made her film debut in 1951...

), she takes revenge by casting a love spell on him while falling for him herself. She must eventually make a stark choice, as witches who fall in love lose their supernatural powers. Gillian's cat and familiar
Familiar spirit
In European folklore and folk-belief of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, familiar spirits were supernatural entities believed to assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic...

, Pyewacket, becomes agitated and leaves her when she decides in Shep's favor.

Sidney Redlitch (Ernie Kovacs
Ernie Kovacs
Ernie Kovacs was a Hungarian American comedian and actor.Kovacs' uninhibited, often ad-libbed, and visually experimental comedic style came to influence numerous television comedy programs for years after his death in an automobile accident...

), the author of the best-selling book Magic in Mexico, arrives in Shep's office (thanks to a little magic) after Gillian discovers Shep's interest in meeting him. Redlitch is researching a book on witches in New York, and acquires an "inside" collaborator when Gillian's warlock
Warlock
The term warlock in origin means "traitor, oathbreaker".In early modern Scots, the word came to be used as the male equivalent of witch ....

 brother Nicky (Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon
John Uhler "Jack" Lemmon III was an American actor and musician. He starred in more than 60 films including Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Mister Roberts , Days of Wine and Roses, The Great Race, Irma la Douce, The Odd Couple, Save the Tiger John Uhler "Jack" Lemmon III (February 8, 1925June...

) volunteers his services in exchange for a portion of the proceeds.

Gillian uses her magic to make Shep lose interest in Nicky and Redlitch's book and then confesses her identity as a witch to Shep. He becomes angry, believing that she enchanted him just to spite Merle, and the two fight. Gillian threatens to cast various spells on Merle (such as making her fall in love with the first man that walks into her apartment), but finds that she has lost her powers because of her love for Shep. Meanwhile, he finds that he literally cannot leave Gillian, because of the spell. To escape, he turns to another witch, Bianca de Passe (Hermione Gingold
Hermione Gingold
Hermione Gingold was an English actress known for her sharp-tongued, eccentric persona, an image enhanced by her sharp nose and chin, as well as her deepening voice, a result of vocal nodes which her mother reportedly encouraged her not to remove. She starred on stage, on radio, in films, on...

), who breaks the spell. Shep confronts Gillian and leaves her heartbroken. He then tries unsuccessfully to explain to Merle that Gillian is a witch. Months later, Shep returns and discovers that Gillian has lost her magic powers because of her love for him. The two are reconciled.

Meaning of the title


The title "Bell, Book and Candle" is a reference to excommunication
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

, which is performed by bell, book and candle. It is opened with "Ring the bell, open the book, light the candle," and closed with "Ring the bell, close the book, quench the candle."

Cast

  • Kim Novak
    Kim Novak
    Kim Novak is an American film and television actress. She began her career with her roles in Pushover and Phffft! but achieved greater prominence in the 1955 film Picnic...

     as Gillian "Gil" Holroyd
  • James Stewart
    James Stewart (actor)
    James Maitland Stewart was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive voice and his everyman persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime...

     as Shepherd 'Shep' Henderson
  • Jack Lemmon
    Jack Lemmon
    John Uhler "Jack" Lemmon III was an American actor and musician. He starred in more than 60 films including Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Mister Roberts , Days of Wine and Roses, The Great Race, Irma la Douce, The Odd Couple, Save the Tiger John Uhler "Jack" Lemmon III (February 8, 1925June...

     as Nicky Holroyd
  • Ernie Kovacs
    Ernie Kovacs
    Ernie Kovacs was a Hungarian American comedian and actor.Kovacs' uninhibited, often ad-libbed, and visually experimental comedic style came to influence numerous television comedy programs for years after his death in an automobile accident...

     as Sidney Redlitch
  • Elsa Lanchester
    Elsa Lanchester
    Elsa Sullivan Lanchester was an English-American character actress with a long career in theatre, film and television....

     as Aunt Queenie Holroyd
  • Hermione Gingold
    Hermione Gingold
    Hermione Gingold was an English actress known for her sharp-tongued, eccentric persona, an image enhanced by her sharp nose and chin, as well as her deepening voice, a result of vocal nodes which her mother reportedly encouraged her not to remove. She starred on stage, on radio, in films, on...

     as Bianca de Passe
  • Janice Rule
    Janice Rule
    -Early life and career:Born in Norwood, Ohio, her career included stage, screen and television work. Rule studied ballet and began dancing in Chicago nightclubs in her teens. She soon attracted attention in Hollywood and made her film debut in 1951...

     as Merle Kittridge
  • Howard McNear
    Howard McNear
    Howard Terbell McNear was an American film, television and radio character actor. McNear is best remembered as Floyd Lawson, the barber in The Andy Griffith Show and as Doc Charles Adams in CBS Radio's Gunsmoke .-Career:McNear was born in Los Angeles, California to Luzetta M. Spencer and Franklin...

     as Andy White, Shep's co-publisher
  • Dick Crockett
    Dick Crockett
    Dick Crockett , born Richard DeHart Crockett, was an American television and film actor, stunt performer, stunt coordinator, producer, and director....

     as Ad-lib Bit
  • Bek Nelson as Tina, Shep's Secretary
  • Pyewacket, Gillian's cat:
This name has become a popular one for cats because of this movie, but few know its origin. Pyewacket was one of the familiar spirits of a witch detected by the "witchfinder general" Matthew Hopkins
Matthew Hopkins
Matthew Hopkins was an English witchhunter whose career flourished during the time of the English Civil War. He claimed to hold the office of Witchfinder General, although that title was never bestowed by Parliament...

 in March 1644 in the town of Maningtree, Essex, UK. Hopkins claimed that he spied on the witches as they held their meeting close by his house, and heard them mention the name of a local woman. She was arrested and deprived of sleep for four nights, at the end of which she confessed and named her familiars, describing their forms. They were Holt, Jarmara, Vinegar Tom, Sacke and Sugar, Newes, Ilemauzer, Pyewacket, Pecke in the Crowne, and Griezzel Greedigutt. Hopkins says he and nine other witnesses saw the first five of these, which appeared in the forms described by the witch. Only the first of these was a cat; the next two were dogs, and the others were a black rabbit and a polecat. It's not clear what sort of animal Pyewacket was. As for the meanings, Hopkins says only that they were such that "no mortall could invent." The incident is described in Hopkins's pamphlet "The Discovery of Witches" (1647).

Reception


When first released in 1958 by Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is an American film production and distribution company. Columbia Pictures now forms part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony. It is one of the leading film companies...

, Bell, Book and Candle was a moderate success. The soundtrack, featuring Philippe Clay
Philippe Clay
Philippe Clay, born Philippe Mathevet, was a French mime artist, singer and actor.He was known for his tall and slim silhouette and for his interpretations of songs by Charles Aznavour, Claude Nougaro, Jean-Roger Caussimon, Boris Vian, Serge Gainsbourg, Jean Yanne, Léo Ferré, Jacques Datin,...

 and The Brothers Candoli who appeared in the film in cameo appearances, also found success.

Soundtrack


Notable songs from the film:
  • "Stormy Weather
    Stormy Weather
    "Stormy Weather" is a 1933 song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. Ethel Waters first sang it at The Cotton Club night club in Harlem. It has since been covered by artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Clodagh Rodgers, and Reigning Sound; but most famously by Lena Horne and Billie Holiday...

    ", performed by Jack Lemmon
    Jack Lemmon
    John Uhler "Jack" Lemmon III was an American actor and musician. He starred in more than 60 films including Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Mister Roberts , Days of Wine and Roses, The Great Race, Irma la Douce, The Odd Couple, Save the Tiger John Uhler "Jack" Lemmon III (February 8, 1925June...

     on the bongo drums with the band at the Zodiac Club (the Brothers Candoli on trumpets, and an unknown guitar player)
  • "Deck the Halls", performed by James Stewart
    James Stewart
    James Stewart was a Hollywood movie actor and USAF brigadier general.James Stewart may also refer to:-Noblemen:*James Stewart, 5th High Steward of Scotland*James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn James Stewart (1908–1997) was a Hollywood movie actor and USAF brigadier general.James Stewart...

     by whistling
  • "Jingle Bells
    Jingle Bells
    "Jingle Bells" is one of the best-known and commonly sung winter songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont and published under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" in the autumn of 1857...

    ", played during the opening credits

Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...


Nominated:
  • Best Art Direction
    Academy Award for Best Art Direction
    The Academy Awards are the oldest awards ceremony for achievements in motion pictures. The Academy Award for Best Art Direction recognizes achievement in art direction on a film. The films below are listed with their production year, so the Oscar 2000 for best art direction went to a film from 1999...

     – (Cary Odell
    Cary Odell
    Cary Odell was an American art director. He was nominated for three Academy Awards in the category Best Art Direction.He was born in Indiana and died in San Luis Obispo, California.-Selected filmography:...

     and Louis Diage
    Louis Diage
    Louis Diage was an American set decorator. He was nominated for three Academy Awards in the category Best Art Direction.-Selected filmography:Diage was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Art Direction:...

    )
  • Best Costume Design
    Academy Award for Costume Design
    The Academy Award for Best Costume Design is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for achievement in film costume design....

     – (Jean Louis
    Jean Louis
    Jean Louis was a French-born, Hollywood costume designer and an Academy Award winner for Costume Design. Louis worked as head designer for Columbia Pictures from 1944 to 1960...

    )

Golden Globes


Nominated:

External links