Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bell, Book, and Candle - The movie

Pyewacket and James Stewart in Bell, Book, and Candle

Much earlier in my blogging career - in fact, it was in March - I purchased the DVD "Bell, Book and Candle" (here). I was barely three months into creating this blog which is a play on that title.

Well, last night I finally got around to watching the movie starring James Stewart and Kim Novak. What a treat. I know this is a book blog, but the movie is about a way. It is based on the play written by British writer John Van Druten and was released in 1958 (making for some great outfits for Novak to wear).

Stewart plays Shepherd Henderson, a New York publisher. He lives above the shop/apartment of Gillian Holroyd (Novak) who is a witch with a familiar - her Siamese cat Pyewacket. Other characters include Jack Lemmon as her brother and warlock Nick, and Elsa Lancaster as their aunt Queenie, also a witch.

The story consists of Gillian casting a love spell on Shepherd and stealing him away from his fiance on the night before his wedding. Things go along smoothly for a while until Shep wants to marry Gillian. Of course a marriage between a witch and a human is unheard of but she is willing to give it a try. She tells Shep the truth about herself and in his fury he has the spell undone. But not to worry, falling in love has taken away Gillian's powers and all's well that ends well.

And now to the books. Shep's office has some lovely high shelves filled with books, I suppose the ones his firm has published. There is also a library ladder on wheels that adds to the bookish atmosphere. I only saw one title - Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham - and that was because it was face out. Shep's partner's name is Andy White. One of my favorite author's is E.B. White; his nickname was Andy. Don't you think that was a nod to him? I do.

In Gillian's apartment there is a bookcase that also serves as a drinks bar which gets lots of use. In Shep's apartment there are books piled on the fireplace mantel, on shelves, and on his desk along with typewritten manuscripts that he has brought home to read and review.

Ernie Kovac's plays a successful author, Sidney Ridlitch, that Gillian conjures up based on a comment by Shep that he would love to publish his next book; his first one being the bestseller Magic in Mexico. Now, Ridlitch wants to write a book about witches - "They are everywhere, you know; even right here in Manhattan."  Nick reveals to him that he is a warlock and offers to collaborate with him and let him in on all the witchy secrets and introduce him to all his witch and warlock friends. So we have a couple of scenes of both men hunched over typewriters (!) writing away.

One of my favorite lines comes in the scene where Pyewacket jumps onto Shep's shoulders which causes Shep's nose to itch and his throat to scratch. Shep says:

"Hasn't this cat got anything better to do? Couldn't you give him something to read?"

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