Somehow, Bell, Book, and Candle (1958) had totally slipped past my radar until 65 years after its release. This dreamy supernatural romantic comedy stars James Stewart and Kim Novak. Notably, Hitchcock’s film Vertigo also came out in 1958 and also stars Stewart and Novak. Vertigo premiered in May, while Bell, Book, and Candle debuted in December.
Bell, Book, and Candle was directed by Richard Quine. Though Quine was a prolific director, I have seen very few of his films. The film is based on the 1950 Broadway play of the same name by John Van Druten.
Bell, Book, and Candle tells the story of Gillian Holroyd, a witch who runs an art store in Greenwich Village (a dream come true.) When her new neighbor catches her eye, she uses her cat to cast a spell on the man. But of course, Holroyd’s dislike for her new neighbor’s fiance motivates her actions. The world needs a thinkpiece on why female witches are depicted so often with cats.
Bell, Book, and Candle is said to have played a role in inspiring the TV series Bewitched. And you can certainly see the influence. It also has some similarities to Practical Magic (1998): strong female family, witches acting as shopkeepers, true love being interfered with by love spells, etc.
This is the last film starring Stewart as a romantic lead. It was put out by Columbia Pictures and brought in an estimated $2.5 million in the United States and Canada.
Vertigo (1958) lives on as a Hollywood Masterpiece, while Bell, Book, and Candle is less acclaimed. But this charming film is worth a watch, especially in the winter, as much of the sets are draped in snow and magic. Nothing says happy holidays like witchcraft.