Bell Book and Candle (1959)

103 or 106 mins | Fantasy, Romantic comedy | January 1959

Director:

Richard Quine

Writer:

Daniel Taradash

Producer:

Julian Blaustein

Cinematographer:

James Wong Howe

Editor:

Charles Nelson

Production Designer:

Cary Odell

Production Company:

Phoenix Productions, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

Although reviews punctuate the film's title as Bell, Book and Candle , the title card of the viewed print reads Bell Book and Candle . An Aug 1953 Var news item stated that David O. Selznick had acquired the screen rights to John Van Druten's play and intended to cast Jennifer Jones, Selznick's wife, in the lead. When the property went to Columbia, according to a Dec 1956 HR news item, Rex Harrison was originally slated to play the male lead in the film. A Feb 1958 HR news item notes that Will Tell was in the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       Eliot Elisofon, the film's special color consultant, was a renowned Life magazine photographer. A modern source notes that James Stewart was lent by Paramount in exchange for Kim Novak's appearance in Vertigo . Bell Book and Candle was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. On 8 Sep 1976, NBC television broadcast a pilot based on Van Druten's play starring Yvette Mimieux, Michael Murphy and John Pleshette and directed by Hy ... More Less

Although reviews punctuate the film's title as Bell, Book and Candle , the title card of the viewed print reads Bell Book and Candle . An Aug 1953 Var news item stated that David O. Selznick had acquired the screen rights to John Van Druten's play and intended to cast Jennifer Jones, Selznick's wife, in the lead. When the property went to Columbia, according to a Dec 1956 HR news item, Rex Harrison was originally slated to play the male lead in the film. A Feb 1958 HR news item notes that Will Tell was in the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       Eliot Elisofon, the film's special color consultant, was a renowned Life magazine photographer. A modern source notes that James Stewart was lent by Paramount in exchange for Kim Novak's appearance in Vertigo . Bell Book and Candle was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. On 8 Sep 1976, NBC television broadcast a pilot based on Van Druten's play starring Yvette Mimieux, Michael Murphy and John Pleshette and directed by Hy Averback. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Feb 58
p. 123.
Box Office
27 Oct 1958.
---
Daily Variety
22 Oct 58
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Oct 58
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 1958
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Feb 1958
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 1958
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Feb 1958
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 1958.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 58
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Nov 58
p. 37.
New York Times
27 Oct 58
p. 2.
Variety
19 Aug 1953.
---
Variety
22 Oct 58
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Cableman
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Native primitive art
Props
Props
Lead man
COSTUMES
Gowns
Furs
MUSIC
Mus comp
SOUND
Rec supv
Mikeman
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Spec col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Bell, Book and Candle by John Van Druten as produced in New York by Irene Mayer Selznick (New York, 14 Nov 1950).
DETAILS
Release Date:
January 1959
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 25 December 1958
Production Date:
3 February--7 April 1958
Copyright Claimant:
Phoenix Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1958
Copyright Number:
LP14129
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
103 or 106
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19072
SYNOPSIS

On Christmas Eve in New York City, Gillian Holroyd, the owner of a gallery specializing in native primitive art, laments that her life is devoid of romance. Gil’s interest is piqued by her new upstairs neighbor, publisher Sheperd Henderson. When Shep returns home from work that evening, he finds a garrulous woman snooping around his apartment who introduces herself as Queenie Holroyd, his neighbor. After Shep brusquely ushers Queenie, who unknown to him is a witch, out of his apartment, she glares at his phone and casts a spell on it. Upon discovering that his phone is out of order, Shep goes downstairs and asks to use Gil’s phone. As he dials a number, Queenie, who is Gil’s aunt, walks into the gallery and urges her to steal Shep away from his fiancée. Gil, who is also a witch, realizes that Queenie has rendered Gil’s phone inoperable and chastises her for inappropriately using her magical powers. Before Shep leaves to meet his fiancée, Queenie mentions that she and Gil are going to the Zodiac Club that night. Later at the club, as Gil’s bongo-playing, warlock brother Nicky beats his drums, Gil tells Queenie that she longs to forswear her witchery and become “ordinary.” Soon after, Shep enters with his snobbish fiancée, Merle Kittridge. When Gil recognizes the condescending Merle as the woman with whom she went to college and who reported her to the dean for not wearing shoes, she decides to exact revenge on her. Recalling that Merle is terrified of thunder, Gil simulates a thunderstorm by using her powers to direct Nicky and the other musicians ... +


On Christmas Eve in New York City, Gillian Holroyd, the owner of a gallery specializing in native primitive art, laments that her life is devoid of romance. Gil’s interest is piqued by her new upstairs neighbor, publisher Sheperd Henderson. When Shep returns home from work that evening, he finds a garrulous woman snooping around his apartment who introduces herself as Queenie Holroyd, his neighbor. After Shep brusquely ushers Queenie, who unknown to him is a witch, out of his apartment, she glares at his phone and casts a spell on it. Upon discovering that his phone is out of order, Shep goes downstairs and asks to use Gil’s phone. As he dials a number, Queenie, who is Gil’s aunt, walks into the gallery and urges her to steal Shep away from his fiancée. Gil, who is also a witch, realizes that Queenie has rendered Gil’s phone inoperable and chastises her for inappropriately using her magical powers. Before Shep leaves to meet his fiancée, Queenie mentions that she and Gil are going to the Zodiac Club that night. Later at the club, as Gil’s bongo-playing, warlock brother Nicky beats his drums, Gil tells Queenie that she longs to forswear her witchery and become “ordinary.” Soon after, Shep enters with his snobbish fiancée, Merle Kittridge. When Gil recognizes the condescending Merle as the woman with whom she went to college and who reported her to the dean for not wearing shoes, she decides to exact revenge on her. Recalling that Merle is terrified of thunder, Gil simulates a thunderstorm by using her powers to direct Nicky and the other musicians to blare their instruments into Merle’s ear, sending her screaming from the club. At Gil’s gallery later that night, the Holroyds exchange Christmas gifts and Nicky gives Gil a magic potion to summon whomever she desires. Recalling that Shep expressed interest in best-selling author Sidney Redlitch, Gil uses the potion to bring Redlitch to New York. When Shep returns home from his date with Merle, he sees flames dancing from a bowl in which Gil has activated the potion. Alarmed by the fire, Shep raps on Gil’s door. Aware of Gil’s feelings for Shep, Nicky and Queenie immediately excuse themselves, after which Gil offers him a drink. As Shep prattles on about marrying Merle the next day, Gil picks up her magic cat Pyewacket, through whom she channels her spells, and casts a spell on Shep. After a magical night, Shep finds himself in love with Gil and declares that he feels “spellbound.” That morning, Shep informs an indignant Merle that he wants to “uncouple.” When Shep goes to his office, he finds Redlitch sitting in the waiting room, wondering why he has experienced an inexplicable urge to travel to New York and discuss his new book with Shep. After Redlitch, an authority on magic, proposes writing an exposé about witches in New York, Shep is skeptical. Redlitch then brags that he can recognize a witch by the fact that they are unable to blush or cry. When Redlitch mentions that witches hang out at the Zodiac Club, a shocked Shep invites Redlitch to have a drink with him and Gil at the Zodiac that night. There, after Redlitch outlines his new book idea to Gil, Gil tells Nicky to derail the project. Instead, as Nicky walks home with Redlitch, he offers to collaborate on the book for fifty percent of the profits. When Nicky states that, as a warlock, he is in a unique position to help Redlitch, the author is skeptical until Nicky casts a spell that makes the street light flash on and off. In the following days, as Shep and Gil pursue romance, Nicky discloses the secrets of his trade to Redlitch. When Shep proposes to Gil one night, she demurs because, according to the precepts of witchcraft, falling in love will bring an end to her magical powers. Gil soon reconsiders, however, and accepts Shep’s proposal. After Gil informs Nicky that she plans to renounce witchcraft and marry Shep, he is incredulous. Fearful that Shep will discover she was a witch, Gil then asks Nicky to stop helping Redlitch, and when he refuses, warns him that she is going to conjure up one last spell to sabotage the book. True to her word, Gil hexes Redlitch’s manuscript, causing Shep to throw it in the garbage as worthless. Feeling guilty about using her powers to ensnare Shep, Gil confesses to him that she is a witch and Nicky a warlock, but he thinks she is joking. As Shep is ruminating over the possibility of Gil being a witch, he runs into Queenie, who confirms that Gil put a spell on him to spite Merle. Shep then confronts Gil, demanding to know if she ever loved him. After storming out of the gallery, Shep goes to the Zodiac to talk to Nicky and Redlitch. They drive him to the home of Mrs. Bianca De Pass, a prominent sorceress, who mixes a potion to break Gil’s spell. After reluctantly downing the potion, Shep returns to his apartment to pack up his belongings. Stopping at the gallery, Shep hands Gil a broom and says goodbye. When Gil spitefully threatens to put a spell on Merle, Shep hurries to her apartment to warn her, but she thinks he has lost his mind. As Gil prepares to cast her spell, she discovers that Pyewacket is missing. When Queenie returns Pyewacket to Gil, the feline runs away from her, and as Gil begins to cry, she realizes that she has lost her powers by falling in love. As the months pass, Gil becomes more and more despondent. Concerned about her niece’s welfare, Queenie decides to reconcile Gil and Shep. One day, Pyewacket unexpectedly jumps through Shep’s office window. When Shep brings the cat back to Gil at her gallery, he finds that the gruesome primitive masks have been replaced by delicate, colorful shells. Upon seeing Shep, Gil becomes flustered, blushes and cries. Realizing that she has lost her magic powers and therefore must be in love with him, Shep embraces her. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.