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  • Bell Book & Candle [DVD] [1958] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Bell Book & Candle [DVD] [1958] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

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Product details

  • Actors: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs, Hermione Gingold
  • Directors: Richard Quine
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Colour, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 28 Mar. 2000
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0767821556
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,329 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Bell, Book and Candle (1958) is a sparkling, exotic and intelligent comedy based on John Van Druten's original play about the unlikely subject of witchcraft in Manhattan. In his last romantic lead role, James Stewart is publisher Shep Henderson, sucked into the underworld of Greenwich Village by the extraordinarily beautiful Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak). Their liaison kicks off when Gillian employs her skills to indulge in a bit of fun. By the time Shep gets wise and rejects the artificial premise for a relationship, she has sacrificed her powers to emotional awakening and all is set for a happy ending.

Largely thanks to an eccentric supporting cast, which includes Jack Lemmon as Gillian's warlock brother, Hermione Gingold as a fruity nightclub owner and Elsa Lanchester as Gillian's dotty aunt, the film has a delightfully off-centre quality. It's also a bittersweet allegory about being different. "We forfeit everything and then we end up in a little world of separateness from everyone", sighs Gillian. Novak is at the height of her beauty and here, as in her other 1958 triumph Vertigo (also with Stewart), her other-worldly quality fits the character so perfectly that her thespian limitations are well disguised. It's entrancing in every sense.

On the DVD: Bell, Book and Candle's vibrant Technicolor explodes from the screen in this DVD release, which is enhanced for 16:9 widescreen televisions. Everything looks fresh and new--particularly the exotic nightclub scenes--and the mono soundtrack has lasted well. Extras include selected filmographies and original trailers, and detailed background in the booklet notes. --Piers Ford

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Jun. 2006
Format: DVD
Boy meets girl. Girl is actually a witch. Boy dumps fiancee. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy finds out that girl put a spell on him. Let the fireworks begin.

That's the basic plot of "Bell Book and Candle," which tackled the funny witchy-romance story long before Samantha or Sabrina existed, and with more humour and polish than either. It's just a cute romance with a unique twist, a cute cat, and meddling sorcery.

It's Christmastime, and Manhattan witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is in a rut. Then she meets hunky publisher Shepherd (James Stewart), who is engaged to her old college nemesis. So with the assistance of her cat Pyewacket, she casts a spell to make Shep fall madly in love with her, and drop backstabbing Merle (Janice Rule). Itr works like a... well, like a charm.

But things start to go wrong when Gil's aunt Queenie (Elsa Lanchester) and her pal Nicky (Jack Lemmon) start talking to a bestselling author on witchcraft -- who decides to write a book on the Manhattan witches. What's worse, Gil is falling in love with Shep -- which means her powers will vanish -- and decides to tell him the truth about the love spell.

"Bell Book and Candle" is not really a romantic comedy, so much as a romance movie with some funny characters. And of course there's a low-key fantasy angle -- basically all the witches and warlocks do is cast a few spells, honk car horns, and occasionally boil something in a cauldron. (Hermione Gingold as a showy old witch)

James Stewart tried out whimsy in the delightful "Harvey," where he's a man who claims to have a companion pooka. He plays the opposite side in "Bell Book and Candle" -- he's the victim of magic weirdness rather than the source. Kim Novak gives a chilly, otherworldly performance as a sophisticated witch.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 9 July 2012
Format: DVD
Bell Book and Candle (there's no comma in the on-screen title) doesn't conjure up a genuine big screen classic romantic comedy out of John Van Druten's hit Broadway play, but it does make for an enjoyably glossy confection set in a snowy New York where most witches are broke despite supposedly having the power to conjure up their heart's desire because they aren't very good at it. Kim Novak's tribal art shop owner is good at it, and despite her policy of never stealing another woman's man makes an exception when old school bully Janice Rule is going to marry the publisher in the apartment upstairs, James Stewart, who turns out to be her heart's desire because she thinks "It might be pleasant to be humdrum once in a while." Naturally he falls under her spell just as surely as he did in Vertigo, albeit with lighter comic results in a film that's almost the romantic comedy version of Rosemary's Daddy - no paternity issues here, but chanting through the walls from Elsa Lanchester's dotty neighbour and Stewart all but selling his soul not for a motorbike commercial like John Cassavettes but the publishing rights to ill-informed supernatural expert Ernie Kovacs' next book on witchcraft in Manhattan.

Despite assembling a decent supporting cast, the focus is firmly on Stewart and, particularly, Novak at the height of her fame - the later perhaps not too surprising considering she and the film's director, Richard Quine, were an item at the time (Quine throws in a nice sight gag at his own expense in the title sequence).
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kona TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Sept. 2005
Format: DVD
This charming romantic comedy is set in the world of modern day (1958) witches in New York City. Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak), art dealer, bohemian, and witch, is attracted to her upstairs (mortal) neighbor, Shep Henderson (James Stewart). With the help of her cat familiar, Gillian casts a love spell on the straitlaced Shep; he is immediately besotted and breaks his engagement to another woman. Gillian likes a lot him, but knows that if a witch falls in love for real, she loses her magic powers. Does she dare give up her witchy ways? Will he love her without magic?
Stewart is very sweet and likeable as the buttoned-down publisher, but this is Kim Novak's movie all the way. She's adorably and seductively mysterious, with her velvety voice, haunting gazes, and stunning wardrobe of red and black. There is no silly hocus-pocus or levitating of objects; they aren't necessary. We believe Gillian is a witch from the start, and her desire to be vulnerable is touching. Novak and Stewart teamed up romantically in another movie that year, "Vertigo," and they look just great together. This is a lightweight fantasy (shades of "Bewitched") with beautiful stars, a sweet romance, and a remarkably talented Siamese cat!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Nov. 2013
Format: DVD
It's one of those films that we all have, the movie that features actors you simply adore, but no matter how many times you watch it in the mystical hope that it will change and get better, but it never does. Bell Book & Candle is my pet frustration.

Fronted by James Stewart and Kim Novak, supported by Jack Lemmon & Elsa Lanchester, this screen version of the theatre play has a modicum of charm befitting the story of a publisher who falls under the love spell of a modern day witch, but ultimately it plays out as dull.

It looks nice, both in art direction and colour photography, Jimmy and Kim are pleasant of course, and Elsa, Hermione Gingold and Pyewacket the cat are bundles of fun, yet the belly laughs are missing, a need to care about the lovelorn and the restless sadly some place else.

I have a framed still of Jimmy & Kim from this movie hanging in my hallway, every time I pass it I point my finger at it and swear with sadness in my heart. I love those guys you see, the movie not so much... 5/10
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