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Jackson Martin
Jackson Martin

Bell Book And Candle(1958)


Synopsis: Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is a woman who runs an African curios shop in New York City underneath the apartment building where she and her aunt Queenie (Elsa Lanchester) live. A book publisher named Shepherd Henderson (Jimmy Stewart) has just moved into the building and Gillian immediately sets her eyes on him, only to find he is engaged to a rival former schoolmate (Janice Rule.) But Gillian has one advantage . . . she is a witch, and when push comes to shove she uses her powers and her familiar, a Siamese cat named Pyewacket, to bewitch Mr. Henderson into falling in love with her. But at what price?




Bell Book and Candle(1958)


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Through its B-plot, the film also coaxes us to ask more questions about its urban fantasy setting than are probably healthy. Nicky signs on to co-author Redlitch's book about witchcraft in Manhattan, an act that risks exposing the family's entire subculture--though the only issue seems to be whether it will muck up Gillian's relationship with Shep. Is senior witch Bianca de Passe (Hermione Gingold...get it? Hermione?) okay with the gambit? Do the witches see themselves as equal to regular humans, or superior? Do they even understand mundane life, or are they as baffled as J.K. Rowling's wizards at the concept of, say, dentistry? It's a kind of worldbuilding that Bell, Book, and Candle isn't concerned with, but I am.5


THE BLU-RAY DISC Fledgling label Twilight Time, specializing in limited-edition Blu-ray pressings of classic but OOP titles, discloses Bell, Book, and Candle in a 1.85:1, 1080p transfer that twinkles with grain. That's a compliment, really, since it means you feel like you're watching a film. The grain is almost violent over the opening Columbia logo, which made me fearful at the start, but the effect subsides to become near-unnoticed in darker scenes, such as Philippe Clay's sinuous musical number at the Zodiac. The blues and browns in Gillian's gallery and den are properly saturated, and as she transforms herself and her business, the set blooms with a brighter palette. A green-flame optical effect when Gillian's coven casts a spell, rather than being shown up as false, feels completely organic and in-camera. And Gillian's sleek black pantsuits are jet black. In sum, the presentation gives Bell, Book, and Candle a vitality it deserves. The audio, billed as 5.1 on the packaging, is actually a DTS-HD MA 1.0 track whose fidelity is good enough to pass for multi-channel. Although there's not much bass, George Duning's score almost seems to rise from the rear, as does the toll of a bell when Nicky withdraws a spell he's cast. Here again, the Zodiac Club scenes benefit the most, highlighting the jazz numbers by Pete and Conte Candoli as The Candoli Brothers. The score can be experienced in a much-welcome DTS 2.0 isolated music track. If there's any flaw in the lossless mix, it's that Novak's vocal purr--especially in her early scenes--is clearly outed as post-production looping.


Supplementing the BD are two brief, audio-only (DTS 2.0) interviews with Novak--chats with Stephen Rebello laid over footage and stills from the productions she discusses. "Bewitched, Bothered and Beautiful" (9 min., SD) has Novak talking Bell, Book, and Candle.6 She says that Stewart told her during filming he probably wouldn't take on too many more romantic leads, acknowledging his age. (To the credit of all involved, the twenty-five years Stewart has on Novak never stood out to me in either this or Vertigo.) Between their two movies, the stars established a casually intimate relationship that put both at ease while simultaneously, according to Novak, causing some consternation for director-lover Quine, who'd helped launch her career. The second featurette, "Reflections in the Middle of the Night" (15 mins., SD), takes on Middle of the Night, Novak's well-regarded 1959 starrer helmed by Delbert Mann and scripted by Paddy Chayefsky, about a controversial May-December love affair. Of course Harry Cohn, then Novak's thuggish boss at Columbia, didn't want her to do it. Bell, Book, and Candle's original theatrical trailer (3 mins., HD) rounds out the platter.


6. It's titled on the box cover and in the disc menu as "Bewitched, Bothered and Blonde," a second labelling slip-up indicating that Twilight Time, for all its phenomenal intentions, could use a little back-end quality control. return


Twilight Time thoughtfully includes a couple of featurettes from the 2010 disc, produced by Greg Carson and interviewer Steven Rebello. Kim Novak sticks to standard praise to talk about her co-stars Lemmon and Kovacs but assures us that she recognized a fellow 'real person' in James Stewart, a man as comfortable "as a pair of old slippers". Novak also cops to loving the witchcraft angle -- she obviously delighted in working with Pyewacket, the Siamese cat.


Broke warlock Nicky Holroyd senses an opportunity- convince author Sidney Retlitch to split the advance on his next book in exchange for inside information on the magical community in New York. What Nicky didn't bank on was Sidney being more enticing than a promising paycheck


Gillian Holroyd is just your average, modern-day, witch, living in a New York apartment with her Siamese familiar, Pyewacket. But one day a handsome publisher, Shep Henderson (James Stewart) walks into her building and Gillian decides she wants him--especially as it turns out he's marrying Merle Kittridge, an old poison penpal from Gillian's college days. So, Gillian casts a spell over Shep. But her powers are in danger of being exorcised by something stronger than the bell-book-and-candle routine: Love. 041b061a72


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