Sally and Gillian Owens have always known they were different. Raised by their aunts after their parents' death, the sisters grew up in a household that was anything but typical--their ... See full summary »
Kate and her actor brother live in N.Y. in the 21st Century. Her ex-boyfriend, Stuart, lives above her apartment. Stuart finds a space near the Brooklyn Bridge where there is a gap in time.... See full summary »
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 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. Written by
Gillian's cat is named Pyewacket. This name has become a popular one for cats because of this movie, but few know its origin: Pyewacket was one of the familiar spirits of a witch detected by the "witchfinder general" Matthew Hopkins in March 1644 in the town of Maningtree, Essex, UK. He claimed he spied on the witches as they held their meeting close by his house, and heard them mention the name of a local woman. She was arrested and deprived of sleep for four nights, at the end of which she confessed and named her familiars, describing their forms. They were:
Sacke and Sugar
Pecke in the Crowne
Hopkins says he and nine other witnesses saw the first five of these, which appeared in the forms described by the witch. Only the first of these was a cat; the next two were dogs, and the others were a black rabbit and a polecat. So it's not clear whether Pyewacket was a cat's name or not. As for the meanings, Hopkins says only that they were such that "no mortall could invent." The incident is described in Hopkins's pamphlet "The Discovery of Witches" (1647).
When Cat meows, it never moves its mouth. Especially noticeable when the Cat is supposed to be agitated. See more »
Gillian 'Gil' Holroyd:
Oh, Pye, Pye, Pyewacket. What's the matter with me? Why do I feel this way? It's such a rut. The same old thing day after day. Same old people. I know I'm feeling sorry for myself but it's true. Why don't you give me something for Christmas, Pye?
Gillian 'Gil' Holroyd:
What would I like?
Gillian 'Gil' Holroyd:
I'd like to do something different. I'd like to meet something different.
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Bell Book and Candle is not a great movie by any means (it's fair), but it's worth checking out for a couple of reasons. First, it's almost hard to believe this is the same Kim Novak that graced the screen in Vertigo the same year. The combination of her manner in this film, and her incredibly striking natural good looks make her almost hypnotic. She wears little or no makeup throughout the film, and looks infinitely better than being slathered in makeup in all her other films. Sharon Stone wishes she looked this good.
The second reason this film is worth checking out is Jimmy Stewart. Now, while I consider Stewart my favorite actor of all time, there were many instances where he was just not effective in the role he was playing. He's at his best when he's playing the naive sap (Mr. Smith, Destry, Harvey), the everyday man (Made for each other, Philadelphia story), or the straight nose who is thrust into unusual situations (this film, You Can't Take it with you) where he can play off of what's happening to him. His weaker performances, I felt, were in his straight forward dramatic roles (liberty valance, man who knew too much, even Vertigo). This film is a chance to see his everyman thrust into wacky situations.
This film is a little too tame to be considered screwball, but as with any good screwball, the supporting cast is as important as the leads. Elsa Lanchester, AKA Bride of Frankenstein, is hilarious. Ernie Kovacs, as Sidney Redlitch, is an absolute riot. I had to pause the film when he goes looking for a little "post holiday cheer", I was laughing so hard. Then, of course, there's a pre-The Apartment Jack Lemmon in a supporting role, as well.
Bell Book and Candle isn't great, and it never really seems sure of what kind of film it's trying to be, but it's pretty funny and worth seeing for the performances alone.
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