Friday, October 2, 2009


Bell, Book and Candle (1958). A romantic/comedy directed by Richard Quine based on the Broadway play by John Van Druten. Cast: James Stewart and Kim Novak in their second on-screen pairing (Alfred Hitchcock' s Vertigo, being the first). Columbia Pictures allowed Novak to perform in Vertigo (as a replacement for pregnant Vera Miles) in exchange for Stewart. Fans recognized similarities between I Married A Witch (1942) and the (1960's) much loved TV series Bewitched, believing that this film may have been an inspiration.

The film is about your average, modern day, witch, living in a New York apartment/Bohemian art studio with her Siamese cat, Pyewacket. Gillian is bored with her everyday life. When one fateful day a handsome publisher, Shep Henderson walks into her apartment building and Gillian decides she wants to meet him.

While hanging out at the local underground club, she discovers that he is going to marry her college rival Merle Kittridge. Gillian decides to cast a spell over Shep to ruin their marriage plans. With help from her aunt.

But.. her powers are in danger of being lost by something stronger than the bell-book-and-candle. Could it be love?

Jack Lemmon and Elsa Lanchester add a lot of bewitching flavor as Gillian's beat nick family. "Bell, Book and Candle" is a reference to excommunication, 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, blow out the candle."

This was Jimmy Stewart final appearance as a romantic lead. This was because many of the leading ladies that were playing his romantic interest were a lot younger. The critics in 1958 felt that Stewart was miscast. After this film he would concentrate more on roles where he played a father figure.

Janice Rule (August 15, 1931 – October 17, 2003), studied ballet and began dancing in Chicago nightclubs in her teens. She soon attracted attention in Hollywood and made her film debut in 1951. Among her noteworthy film roles were, The Chase, Goodbye My Fancy, 3 Women,  Costa Gavras, Missing(1982),  The Swimmer and American Flyers.

She was pictured on the cover of Life magazine on Jan. 8, 1951, as a rising young actress.

Her films in the 1950's included: Starlift, Holiday for Sinners, A Woman's Devotion and Bell, Book and Candle, in which she was the strait-laced fiancee who loses James Stewart.

She was troubled by the attitude toward women's beauty in the studios in the early 1950's. She was in great demand because she could play strong, non-conventional women.


  1. I love this movie. Kim Novak was so gorgeous, the music and atmosphere wonderful. I always love James Stewart. Isn't it unfair how old men can get before they are considered too old to be a romantic lead? He was in his,what, late 50's? Women are lucky to be cast as romantic leads after they are 30!

  2. Dawn, I've seen this BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE probably four times. The first three times I liked all right, but nothing magical. Then, on the fourth viewing (this past spring on TCM), I really enjoyed it. Go figure! I think the difference is that I had become more of a Kim Novak fan over the years (due primarily to VERTIGO and PICNIC). I think it's really her movie. I hadn't thought of it...but you are so's James Stewarts' last romantic lead role.

  3. My Dad love to watch this film for one thing. Jack Lemmon" Blowing Out" street lights with Ernie Kovacks.And as for me Elsa and Hermione steal this picture.

  4. Welcome Paul to my page.. it really is good to see you here...You amaze me at all the triva you know. if you want to be a contributor to my blog please let me know.
    thanks Dawn

  5. Dawn , Thanks for the kind invite.I would like to be a simi regular contributor when time permits, I'm busy at the cafe .Maybe I could do a one a month Chick Flicks for guys, or a guys guide to Chick flicks? What is your pleasure Dawn?

  6. that would be fun...How about Chick Flicks for Guys. I will send you an invite..


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