Its that time of year when the nights are drawing in and there’s nothing more comforting than curling up with a hot chocolate ( or one of those spicy pumpkin lattes that I haven’t tried yet!) and a spooky rom com. Bell, Book and Candle is a witchy tale set in modern day New York ( 1958 ) about a bored witch ( a sultry blonde Kim Novak) , her feline familiar ‘Pyewacket’ and the guy who moves into the flat upstairs.
The film starts with a festive snowy street scene. It’s Christmas Eve and lonesome witch Gillian is working in her African Art shop feeling in a bit of a rut. She spies her neighbor from the flat upstairs , Shepherd Henderson ( James Stewart) and ponders to her siamese cat Pyewacket, that he might be a rather nice Christmas present…..
A chance meeting ( well, kind of 😉 ) and Gill learns that Shep is a publisher and he’s interested in publishing the next book by the author of a guide in her shop called ‘Magic in Mexico.’ He’s also engaged to be married. Gill’s batty Aunt Queenie ( Elsa Lancaster) and bongo playing warlock brother Nicky ( Jack Lemmon) think he might be the ideal candidate to test her supernatural powers on. But Gill doesn’t want to cast a love spell on Shep and bans her interfering relatives from making mischief.” It might be pleasant to be humdrum once in a while” she reflects.
After mentioning to Shep that she and Queenie were going out to a nightclub called the ‘Zodiac Club’ that evening ,he decides to take his fiancee there for a drink. It turns out his bride to be Merle went to boarding school with Gill and used to bully her and get her in trouble for walking around barefoot ( its a witch thing!) so Gill sees red and beckons Nicky and the orchestra to gatecrash their table. To Merle their playing resembles a crashing thunderstorm. We find out that Merle is terrified of storms and she flees the club followed by a perplexed Shep.
Back at the flat Gill and her family exchange presents round the tree. Nicky’s present to Gill is a summoning charm. She decides to use it to lure the author of ‘Magic in Mexico’ to the shop. But it is Shepherd who turns up and witnesses the three gathered round a lurid green flame. Remarking that ,”It seems more like Halloween than Christmas round here” he is easily convinced by Gill that the fireworks were just a party trick. When the others leave Shepherd tells Gill that he and Merle have now planned to get married the following day. It is then that our witch decides to use her magic on him. Humming a tune to Pyewacket she casts a Love Spell that immediately makes the publisher fall in love with her.
We next cut to the top of the Flatiron building ( in its time the tallest in NY) where we see Gill and Shepherd locked in an embrace. Shep goes to break it off with a very disgruntled Merle and the two start to enjoy a magical courtship, doing the ordinary humdrum things that Gill has craved such as dinner and dancing, ice skating in Central Park and chilling in her flat. Meanwhile ‘Sidney Rednick’, the author of the Mexican magic book turns up at Shepherds office. He has an idea for a new book….about witches in New York.
Convinced that New York is a haven for witches Sidney writes the book with the help of Nicky who has decided that he deserves a bit of recognition for being a warlock. Gill has accepted Shep’s marriage proposal even though she knows he is under her spell. But something has happened to our witch. Witches don’t cry. Witches don’t blush. When witches fall in love they lose their powers and their familiars leave them. Pyewacket scarpers to go and live with Aunt Queenie. Is it possible that Gillian has fallen in love after all??
To see how the story ends….you really should rent the movie. Arnt I mean! Go on , it’s the purrrfect spellbinding Halloween film. 🙂 .
Whats your favorite magical movie?