Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kim Novak in "Bell, Book & Candle"

This 1958 romantic comedy stars Kim Novak as a witch in modern Manhattan who does the one thing a witch must not do, fall in love with a mortal. This light-hearted work is one of Novak's best, although her romantic lead, Jimmy Stewart, is poorly cast for the part.

Novak's Gillian Holroyd has heard of the old wives' tales that say a witch can't ever cry, or fall in love, without losing her powers. After a whirlwind romance with Stewart, Novak finds out that this time it's more than just a case of "hot blood," it's for real. Ernie Kovacs, a hack writer and drunk who thinks he knows about witchcraft is initiated into the "lifestyle" by Novak's brother, played by Jack Lemmon. The movie is visually lush and features Novak at her most alluring. The nightclub encounter where Novak steals Stewart out from under his fiancée's nose is a classic, a barefoot Novak at her best. Camille Paglia has described the movie, which she sees as a metaphor for the hidden love lives of the homosexuals of the 1950's, as one of her all-time favorites. This light-hearted fantasy pleases on many levels, and bears repeated viewings.

This not-very-impressive trailer undersells the movie, but I'll include it in any case.

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