Bell Book and Candle (1958) Poster


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  • It's Christmas eve, and witch Gillian "Gil" Holroyd (Kim Novak) is feeling bored and in a rut. When Gil admits to her Aunt Queenie (Elsa Lanchester) that she's taken a fancy to her upstairs neighbor, Shepard "Shep" Henderson (James Stewart), Queenie suggests that she put a spell on him, but Gil refuses ...until she learns that the girl Shep is about to marry is that same back-stabbing, beau-stealing Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule) who wrote a poison pen letter to the dean at Wellesley reporting Gil for attending classes barefoot. Edit

  • Bell Book and Candle is based on the 1950 play Bell, Book and Candle by English-born playwright John Van Druten [1901-1957]. The play was adapted for the film by American screenwriter Daniel Taradash. A made-for-television remake, Bell, Book and Candle (1976), was released in 1976. Another remake, Bell Book and Candle, is in development with no set release date. Edit

  • A bell, a book, and a candle were used in excommunication rites over 1,000 years ago. After performing the excommunication ritual over someone who had committed a particularly grievous sin, the bishop would ring a bell to evoke a death toll, close a holy book to symbolize the ex-communicant's separation from the church, and snuff out a candle to represent the sinner's soul being extinguished from the light of God. Edit

  • That was Philippe Clay, and the song he sings is titled Le Noyé Assassiné (The Murdered Drowned Man). Edit

  • They were professional musicians who went by the name of The Brothers Candoli, although only two of them—Pete and Conte—were actual Candoli brothers. Nicky (Jack Lemmon) joined in on the bongo drums for their rendition of Stormy Weather. Edit

  • The soundtrack calls it The Spell. It's a variation on the main theme music written for this movie by American film composer George Duning. Edit

  • Pywacket became a popular name for cats just after Bell Book and Candle was released. The name comes from a 1647 account, The Discovery of Witches, by Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, who was investigating instances of witchcraft in Maningtree, Essex County, England. One of the suspected "witches" confessed, after being deprived of sleep for four nights, to having several familiars, one named Pyewacket. Hopkins also named nine other familiars, including Holt (described as a "white kitling"), Jarmara (a fat, legless spaniel), Vinegar Tom, (a long-legged greyhoud with a head like an ox), Sack and Sugar (a black rabbit), and Newes (a polecat). Elemanzer, Peckin the Crown, Grizzel, Greedigut, and Pyewacket were described simply as "imps," but the name Pyewacket has come to be associated with cats. Edit

  • The Flatiron Building, located at 175 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York. Completed in 1902, it was once one of the tallest buildings in New York City. Edit

  • For the money. Nicky's job at the Herb Store wasn't exactly high-paying, and Redlitch (Ernie Kovacs) offered him 50% of the profits from his next book, Magic in Manhattan, or Witchcraft Around Us, if he could find a real witch or warlock as a collaborator. Edit

  • Pyewacket runs away after Gillian loses her powers, thanks to her really falling in love with Shep. She changes her Primitive Art store into one featuring Flowers of the Sea. Months pass, but Queenie and Nicky are still worried about her condition, so Queenie sends Pyewacket (he's now her cat) to Shep's office. Shep has deteriorated into an old grouch. When he sees Pyewacket come in the window, he angrily stuffs the cat into a wastebasket and brings him back to Gil. Gil explains that Pyewacket is no longer her cat, which surprises Shep. They exchange pleasantries ("How are you doing? How is Merle doing?") until Shep notices that Gil is blushing. Then Gil starts to cry, and Shep realizes that she's lost her powers and, as the saying goes, that can only happen if a witch falls in love. Shep takes Gil into his arms and admits that he is still in love with her, too. "Only it's real this time," he says. "Or has it been real all along? Who's to say what magic is?" He asks Gil if she'd like to stop crying now, and she replies, "I don't think I can...I'm only human." In the final scene, Queenie and Nicky are watching Gil and Shep through the window. They start to walk up the street. Nicky causes all the streetlights to go out, except for one on which Pyewacket is perched. Then that light goes out, too. Meow. Edit

  • Prior to Bell, Book, and Candle, there really is only one other movie that features a witch in the romantic lead, and that's the light-hearted romantic comedy I Married a Witch (1942) (1942) in which a witch attempts to wreck havoc on the impending marriage of the ancestor of the witch-hunter who had her and her father burned at the stake in 1672. After Bell, Book, and Candle, witches and witchcraft became more popular in the media. Perhaps the most memorable of them is the TV series (1964-1972), in which a human man marries a witch, along with her wacky witchy family. The TV series was also made into a movie, Bewitched (2005) (2005). Edit

  • Bell Book and Candle was one of the inspirations for the 'Bewitched' TV series [1964-1972] starring Elizabeth Montgomery as a witch married to a human. Elements taken from Bell Book and Candle mostly include characters, e.g. Aunt Queenie becomes the bumbling Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne) and Nicky becomes the basis for Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde). However, the primary inspiration for Bewitched is usually credited to I Married a Witch.. Edit



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