Thursday, April 27, 2006

Must-See Movie: Bell, Book and Candle

Bell Book and Candle* (1958)
Kim Novak and James Stewart reunite the same year they did Vertigo to play a witch and a human man trying to figure out romance among magic.

Gillian Holroyd (Novak) is a witch living in a modern (1950's) Manhattan apartment with her Siamese cat, Pyewacket. Feeling lonely, she asks Pyewacket to give her for Christmas her upstairs neighbor Shep Henderson (Stewart). She doesn't seem to mind that he's marrying an old nemesis from college; Gillian easily casts a spell over Shep and he is entranced. But now she must wonder if she's being taken over by a larger power: Love.

The supporting cast is outstanding. Jack Lemmon plays a fantastic role as Gillian's wild bongo-playing brother Nicky, and Elsa Lanchester plays their Aunt Queenie.

But what I found most bewitching is Kim Novak herself: her sultry voice, her fantastic wardrobe fashioned by Jean Louis, and her stunning eyes that are more cat-like than Pyewacket's.

Director Richard Quine captures Stewart and Novak's chemistry perfectly. A scene starts with a shot of their bare feet entwined and pans out to reveal them canoodling on a couch; the sexiness and romance of their relationship is palpable. Quine also directed How to Murder Your Wife - another great Jack Lemmon movie that will definitely be a future Must-See Movie.
*The way the title is punctuated is debatable...some use the commas, others don't. We're going by IMDb.

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