Plot: What’s it about?
Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is a unique woman. She works in her own art store, and to be honest, she’s a tad bored with everything right now. Now, that’s no so strange, all of us get bored sometimes, right? Well, Gillian has a special trait that makes her different from other bored people, she’s a witch. And let’s just say Gillian has no problem using her powers to stifle her boredom, such as hexing people just for laughs. When Shep Henderson (James Stewart) moves into the same building, Gillian likes what she sees, but she knows witches can’t fall in love. But when she discovers Shep is the fiance of an old college enemy of hers, Gillian decides to put her powers to use. Gillian casts a spell on Shep, one which causes him to fall in love with her, mainly to spite her old rival. But as the spell wears on, she starts to forget about her original reason for the spell, and feels herself starting to fall in love.
If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, chances are that you will really enjoy this movie. While the storyline has been explored in many movies/television shows since, the idea is presented here in a wonderful manner. There are some truly hilarious scenes, as well as some romance sprinkled in heavy doses. Sure, this is fluffy romance at it’s fluffiest, but it’s an entertaining and charming movie. The performances are top notch, the writing is great, and the visuals are also impressive. I recommend this movie to fans of romantic comedies and also classic movie buffs, but the disc is lacking at best, so a rental may be more in order.
What really makes Bell, Book and Candle so damn charming is the cast, which is nothing short of amazing at times. James Stewart and Kim Novak give their usual excellent turns, and have no trouble at all with the light comedy format. Stewart (How The West Was Won, Vertigo) is outstanding as usual, and brings some great delivery to the film, especially during the film’s climactic moments. Novak (Of Human Bondage, Pal Joey) turns in a seductive performance, laced with enough charm to entice almost any viewer. The chemistry between them is outstanding, and they really make the film work as well as it does. Comedy geniuses Ernie Kovacs (Tv’s The Ernie Kovacs Show) and Jack Lemmon (Grumpy Old Men, Some Like It Hot) also turn up in this movie, although they don’t show their skills to the fullest.
Video: How does it look?
Bell, Book and Candle is presented in your choice of 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen or full frame. While the image is very good, some scenes are in serious need of restoration. This is the best I’ve seen the movie look, but it is still far from great, due to the poor condition of the source material. The colors appear very bright and vivid, except in a few scenes where the colors are muted due to heavy grain. Contrast levels also vary greatly, with some scenes being overly dark and blurring detail. All in all, this is the best version you’re gonna find, but a restoration would be greatly appreciated.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is a little better than the video, although limited by the mono format. There are no major issues, with dialogue coming through well, and at a consistent volume. The music and effects sound good as well, but sometimes get mixed together, which impairs the clarity.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The disc features the theatrical trailer, a small gallery of vintage advertising materials, talent files, some bonus trailers for other Columbia classics, and some production notes on the insert.