BELL BOOK AND CANDLE was popular in 1958, especially as a date movie. Easy to see why: it’s smart, hip and beatnicky. It lets Jimmy Stewart be flustered, Kim Novak go barefoot, Jack Lemmon play the bongos, Ernie Kovacs steal every syllable out of every line he’s given, and grants Elsa Lanchester and Hermione Gingold freedom to release their inner cute witch.
Direction by Richard Quine is okay, but whoever selected that cat—Pyewacket—really knew their felines: what a pretty, patient puss.
Stewart thought at 50 he was too old to sell his role (though Cary Grant wanted it, he had four years on James) and he got pinched some by reviewers. He’s fine. Novak had her eyebrows ‘witched up’ and she works it: Jennifer Jones wanted the part—thankfully a spell wove and dreamy Kim got the call. She and Stewart really clicked (same year as Vertigo); she said of their soul-mate vibe “I missed him the day I met him.” Kovacs is just too funny.