Monday, December 18, 2017

Bell, Book and Candle

In 1958, James Stewart and Kim Novak teamed up for Vertigo, With his traditional ways and her allure, they made for an ideal pairing for Alfred Hitchcock. But did you know that the two actors were in another film that year?

That film for the record was Richard Quine's Bell, Book and Candle, and their roles here were actually similar to those in Hitchcock's. Stewart's Shep Henderson is your average Joe: good-paying job, quiet life, plans to get married. All of that goes right out the window when he crosses paths with the (literally) bewitching Gillian Holroyd (Novak).

Obviously, Bell, Book and Candle and Vertigo are two completely different films (the former a supernatural comedy, the latter a thriller). But aside from their lead stars, there are some similarities between the projects, the most telling being Stewart getting drawn to Novak's aloof nature.

Alongside Stewart and Novak in Bell, Book and Candle are the likes of Elsa Lanchester and Jack Lemmon, both as members of Gillian's family (she as her aunt, he as her brother). Obviously it's interesting casting (Lemmon in particular sports one hell of a manic grin most of the time) but of course this show belongs to Stewart and Novak.

Bell, Book and Candle may have gotten lost in the shadow of Vertigo but it has its own charms (so to speak). Stewart and Novak work wonderfully together, and Lanchester and Lemmon do much of the same. And with this being Stewart's last foray as a romantic lead (even the leading man can be affected by age), it provides one final glimpse of the performer from his prime. (It also serves as a reminder for the changing of the guard when it came to Hollywood's stars.)

My Rating: ****

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