Bell, Book and Candle

1958

Bell, Book and Candle (1958)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

John Van Druten's stage comedy Bell Book and Candle starred Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer on Broadway. The 1958 filmed version stars James Stewart and Kim Novak, fresh from their successful teaming in Hitchcock's Vertigo. Novak plays Gillian Holroyd, a genuine, bonafide witch. Falling in love with publisher Sheperd Henderson (Stewart), Gillian casts a spell on him, obliging him to dump his fiancee and rush to her side. All of this goes against the grain of Gillian's mentor Mrs. De Pass (Hermione Gingold), who does her best to counterract the love spell. Meanwhile, Gillian's wacky warlock brother Nicky (Jack Lemmon) courts disaster by coauthoring a book on black magic with pompous, bibulous novelist Sidney Redlitch (Ernie Kovacs).

Cast

James Stewart
as Shepherd 'Shep' Henderson
Kim Novak
as Gillian 'Gil' Holroyd
Jack Lemmon
as Nicky Holroyd
Ernie Kovacs
as Sidney Redlitch
Hermione Gingold
as Mrs. De Pass
Elsa Lanchester
as Aunt Queenie Holroyd
Janice Rule
as Merle Kittridge
Philippe Clay
as French Singer
Bek Nelson
as Secretary
Howard McNear
as Andy White
Wolfe Barzell
as Proprietor
Joe Barry
as Exterminator
Gail Bonney
as Merle's Maid
Monty Ash
as Herb Store Owner
Don Brodie
as Cab Driver
Ollie O'Toole
as Elevator Operator
John Truax
as Cab Driver
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Critic Reviews for Bell, Book and Candle

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (1)

Stewart, playing the foil, deserves better material, and the movie's midsection is perfunctory. But the fun quotient is high ...

Apr 20, 2015 | Full Review…

Gillian's struggles and sacrifices prove a bit discouraging from a feminist perspective, but it's still a delightful movie, and the soundtrack is fantastic.

Aug 22, 2018 | Full Review…

This whimsical comedy about modern-day witches stars Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak in their second teaming (after Vertigo), but it's the supporting cast that shines.

Aug 20, 2012 | Rating: B | Full Review…

The airy Novak makes a strong impression, Stewart's comic chops remain in fine fettle, and the distinctive supporting cast can't be beat... [Blu-ray]

Apr 23, 2012 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Realizado no mesmo ano de Um Corpo que Cai, traz Stewart e Novak sem um pingo da intensidade exibida no longa de Hitchcock. E por mais que Lemmon seja divertido, o filme soa como um ensaio mal-sucedido de A Feiticeira.

May 13, 2006 | Rating: 2/5

Yep, I'm going to say it: Bewitching!

Jan 17, 2005 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Bell, Book and Candle

½

Interesting idea ("there be witches among us!") given a weak treatment. Stewart and Novak, together again after Vertigo earlier in the same year, cannot overcome the 25 years of age difference between them this time given a script without substance. Lemmon refuses to let the material overcome him though, and the cat, one Pywacket by name, seems to fare well. Eventually developed into the old teevee series, Bewitched.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

This movie is so fun, and was probably the inspiration for the show Bewitched. It has a great cast too. The movie is pretty good, but it could've been better.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

Enchanting comedy with a nice sense of whimsy. Jimmy and Kim are well matched and the supporting cast is perfect. The casting director was spot on the day they cast Elsa Lanchester, Hermione Gingold and Jack Lemmon, with his mischievious grin, as witches and warlock. Kim Novak was at the peak of her beauty here and her clothes not only compliment her character she looks amazing in them.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

½

A light romantic comedy with supernatural undertones starring the two leads from Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo"? "Bell, Book and Candle" comes off like a light-hearted "Rosemary's Baby" or an adult version of Harry Potter. Jimmy Stewart stars as Shep, a book publisher living in a building full of witches (only he doesn't know they're witches). The pretty blonde witch, Gil (Kim Novak) decides she wants to use Shep as her personal love slave, and decides to seduce him away from his fiance (a girl who vexed her back in their school days). They all meet at christmas down in a cellar nightclub that's actually a haven for witches and warlocks. She casts a love spell on him and soon he's breaking off his engagement and pursuing the witch. Ernie Kovaks comes up from mexico as a novelist who specializes in books about witchcraft, and he explains that witches can't cry or blush, unless they fall in love, but then they lose all their power. It's a silly enough plot, but I read somewhere online that the nightclub and the witches and warlocks are all supposed to represent the homosexual community scene of Greenwich village in the late 50s. Whether this was the intention of the filmmakers or not, I don't know. There is, however, a lack of comedy here. There's just not alot of comedy here. It's a pleasant enough film though, and certainly enjoyable for what it is.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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