Bell, Book and Candle
Getting Here is Half the Fun
A modern-day witch likes her neighbor but despises his fiancee, so she enchants him to love her instead... only to fall in love with him for real.
bell, book and candle is: two cute two furious. Or, the gift of unhappiness.
While the film has a certain charm, the plot is messy, the pacing is odd and the dialogue is weak.
Fluffy precursor to Bewitched has a great cast but thin material. Jimmy Stewart goes to town showing off his under-used physical comedy talents, Kim Novak is grumpy and seductive, Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs have good moments, but the story's wastes their talents. Script by Daniel Taradash (Picnic, From Here to Eternity) from a play.
Stewart is likeable, and Novak is luminous, but the plot is a mess. The motivations are fuzzy, and there's little that happens between the central conceit of the hex and the romantic break, so they concoct a silly subplot with Jack Lemmon that goes nowhere and gets dropped in the middle of the act 2, wasting a fantastic supporting cast. The ending is cute but abrupt and flat.
There's also an awful lot of rather poor ADR.
Jimmy Stewart gets involved with Kim Novak, a woman who is apparently a witch. Feeling all lonely, Novak casts a spell on Stewart, which makes him go crazy for her. He dumps his fiancee (on their wedding day) and spends all his time at Novak's feet (like any sane and reasonable man should). But then complications occur. Oh, complications! The story's bizarre. There's apparently a wizard underworld in New York, with its own set of rules and stuff, that apparently operates out some random nightclub. Jack Lemmon plays the bongos, Ernie Kovacs boozes his way throughout the movie, and Kim Novak spends her time melting hearts and slinking around like a cat. Quine often uses garish lighting in order to show that magic is being done, but all this does is make everyone look sick in the face. Entertainment! Oh, Novak. . .
This is a film of tremendous style and energy... for the first 30 minutes. Once Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak get together, "Bell, Book and Candle" settles into a mediocre love story.
Nice little romantic comedy that plays out like an episode of Bewitched.
I always enjoy moves from the late '50s because of the beatnik culture that is hanging around. Perfect example in this movie is a swinging bar called Club Zodiac. Jack Lemmon is playing bongos in a bow-tie and suit. You even get a little French performance art. It's like watching TMZ when they cover all the celebrity hipsters.
Ernie Kovacs has some great moments. He plays his character with such subtlety, it's true comic genius.
This is such a wonderful film - it's funny and romantic and it's set over Christmas. The cast is perfect, there is some brilliant dialogue and it has a lightness that just doesn't exist in cinema now. Watch this after Vertigo for a much more optimistic story about love starring the same people! It's available on Blu ray from Twilight Time - although the DVD is perfectly fine.