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Bell Book and Candle (1958) Poster

Trivia

This was James Stewart's final appearance as a romantic lead. This was because many of the leading ladies that were playing his romantic interest were becoming younger and a few were half his age. The critics in 1958 felt that Stewart was miscast as a suave New York businessman, and he apparently agreed. After this film he would concentrate more on roles that portrayed him as an everyman or as a father figure.
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Cary Grant actively sought the lead role.
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The title "Bell, Book and Candle" is a reference to excommunication, which is performed by bell, book and candle. It is opened with "Ring the bell, open the book, light the candle," and closed with "Ring the bell, close the book, quench the candle."
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James Stewart celebrated his fiftieth birthday during filming.
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Pyewacket was really Kim Novak's pet cat with the same name.
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The exterior street where Kim Novak had her shop, and Jimmy Stewart had his apartment, was filmed on the western end of Brownstone Street on the New York set of MGM's lot #2. This street set was used often in films and television. It appears in numerous Twilight Zone stories of the period. The Zodiac Club exterior was just around the corner of Brownstones eastern end where a three-way alley split the block.
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James Stewart felt that he was miscast as Shepherd Henderson.
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One of the many Siamese cats who played Pyewacket was named Houdini. While the other Siamese used were professionally trained for film, Houdini was an untrained pet Siamese chosen for being particularly photogenic and well-socialized, which made him ideal for close-ups and for scenes in which Pyewacket must be handled by humans. Unfortunately, Houdini was still required to do a few small stunts. As he was untrained, the only way the crew found to make him "act" was to startle or chase him. Behind-the-scenes footage shows the animal stressed and visibly terrified. By the end of shooting, Houdini was a nervous wreck who feared humans. The cat was said never to have fully recovered from his ordeal.
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The play opened on Broadway in New York City at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on November 14, 1950 and closed on June 2, 1951 after 233 performances. The opening-night cast consisted of Rex Harrison as Shepherd Henderson, Lilli Palmer as Gillian Holroyd, Jean Adair as Miss Queeny Holroyd, Larry Gates as Sidney Redlitch and Scott McKay as Nicky Holroyd. There were no other characters in the play.
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Writer Daniel Taradash says that Cary Grant and Grace Kelly were originally set to star, and Ealing stalwart Alexander Mackendrick would have directed.
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Kim Novak said Jimmy Stewart was her favorite leading man in later interviews and was disappointed at his expressing that he wouldn't be playing a leading man again. Novak said she enjoyed working with Stewart so much that she hoped they would just keep going working together and felt they had great chemistry.
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David O. Selznick originally acquired the screen rights to the play and intended to cast Jennifer Jones, Selznick's wife, in the lead. When Selznick's rights to the play expired, the property then went to Columbia where Rex Harrison and Susan Hayward were slated to star in the leads.
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This movie was the inspiration for the television sitcom "Bewitched" starring Elizabeth Montgomery.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
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Virtually all reviews use the original title of the play, "Bell, Book and Candle," instead of the title of the movie, which omits the comma.
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Australians were still mainly tea drinkers in 1958 and they would have been amused to see Kim Novak put 8 spoonfuls of tea in the VERY small pot she brewed for James Stewart. The tradition is "one for each person and one for the pot". In this case 3 spoons. That tea would have undrinkable.
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In the scene where Redlitch is working with Nicky on his book, next to his typewriter is a bottle of bourbon with a straw in it.
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