Bell Book and Candle (1958)

The same year James Stewart and Kim Novak co-starred in Vertigo, which was recently declared the greatest movie ever made by the British Film Institute, they also teamed for this amiable romantic comedy with a supernatural twist. The two very different films are closely associated, as Paramount and Columbia worked out a deal to cast Stewart in this film and use Novak’s services on the Hitchcock picture. Novak stars as a Greenwich Village witch who casts a love spell on Stewart to steal him from an old college rival. It’s hard to believe she would need magic to make a man fall in love with her, particularly with James Wong Howe’s cinematography capturing her at her most beautiful. And as if Novak weren’t alluring enough to turn anyone to the dark arts, she has a family of delightful eccentrics—brother Jack Lemmon and aunt Elsa Lanchester—to sweeten the deal. A year before he shot to stardom in Some Like It Hot (1959), Lemmon steals all of his scenes as a mischievous warlock who plays bongos at the local jazz club and uses his magic to punk passersby.

Presented in collaboration with Sony Pictures

Dir. Richard Quine

In attendance: Kim Novak