Saturday, December 10, 2011

On the Tenth Day of Creepmas, Great Pumpkin gave to me...

Bell, Book and Candle
Queenie : I sit in the subway sometimes, on buses, or the movies, and I look at the people next to me and I think..."What would you say if I told you I was a witch?"

For my contribution to both Creepmas and The Witches' Yuletide Ball, I thought I'd tell you about my Christmas Eve tradition of watching the movie Bell, Book and Candle, which is not only my favourite Christmas movie, but pretty much my favourite movie of all time. Based on a Broadway play by John Van Druten, Bell, Book and Candle was made in 1958, and starred Kim Novak and James Stewart. It is also widely regarded as the inspiration for the television show Bewitched
Gillian Holroyd :  How did you like the Zodiac?
Shepherd Henderson : I'm not quite sure. Somehow it seemed more like Halloween than Christmas.

The film is set in New York's Greenwich Village during the Christmas holiday season. Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is a lonely witch who succumbs to the temptation of casting a love spell on her neighbour, publisher Shepherd Henderson, with the help of her pet cat and familiar, Pyewacket. Bell, Book and Candle also has the most delightfully eccentric cast of supporting characters, including Gillian's witchy relatives, Aunt Queenie (Elsa Lancherster) and  brother Nicky (Jack Lemmon), who contribute to the chaos that follows in the aftermath of the spell. I'm not going to give away the plot because if you haven't seen this film, and you love anything to do with witches, then you must watch it... as soon as possible!
Shepherd Henderson : That girl you know, Gillian Holroyd, she's one.
Merle Kittridge : A witch?
Shepherd Henderson : Yes!
Merle Kittridge : Shep, you just never learned to spell.
This movie is the perfect fusion of supernatural witchy-ness with the martini-chic, lounge era of the late 1950s. Although not a huge box office success, the movie won two thoroughly deserved Academy Awards for Art Direction and Costume Design. The sets are stylishly Mid Century Modern, and the clothes are gorgeous, especially Gillian's witchy black and red wardrobe. There is one tiny flaw in Bell, Book and Candle, and that is when the witchy-ness gets watered down at the end to appeal to more run-of-the-mill sensibilities. I choose to just overlook that small imperfection, however, in an otherwise thoroughly charming  film.

I'd like to thank On the Broomstick and Witch of Howling Creek blogs for hosting The Witches' Yuletide Ball. Just click on the link here to see a list of all the other blogs participating in the festivities.


  1. I will definitely have to watch this movie sometime. I have only seen part of it.

  2. I'm a shameful Witch - I've never seen this movie! That it. I'm going to watch it - perhaps I'll track down a copy as a Yule gift to myself. Thanks for the lovely post/pics!

  3. Thank you for posting this, Emma! I have wanted to see this film again FOR YEARS! I remember having come across it on TV, too, too long ago, and I think this also helped shaped my beliefs and to tred on the other side of the "normal" line when it came to what I decided to believe in and what not to.

    I couldn't remember the stars or any of this! Only that her cat's name was Pyewacket and my sister always had a cat named this because she was just crazy over the film. I didn't even remember that it took place during Christmas.

  4. Awesome film! So dreamy and, well, witchy! And of course, Pyewacket! Purrrrr..... ~Siobhan

  5. I love all things supernatural so I really loved this movie. Not to mention that it's well done. I haven't seen it in a long time, but in the age of collecting, this is a collectable.

  6. Hopping for the Witches' Ball this morning. Great post and great movie. I am a dark fiction author. I write The Demon Stole My Pencil and I shared a dark holiday wreath I made of my contribution.


  7. I love that imdb says Pyewacket the cat is played by "the cat (uncredited)"

    The only reason I know this is because I always thought Angela Lansbury was in this, and she terrifies me, so I have never seen it. Now I shall watch it for the first time- all because of you.

    Thanks for that!

  8. I am sad to say I have yet to see this witchy movie... I forsee a movie night in my group's near future :)

  9. I LOVE this film! One of my all-time favorites! I love Jack Lemon in it! And how beautiful is Kim Novak?!
    Thanks for sharing! I want to watch it again now!
    I understand there is a new version in the making with Alicia Keys in the lead role as Gillian. Not really sure there was a need to remake the original, but that seems to be the way studios operate these days. Should be good theater on Broadway though.

  10. I've heard of Bell, Book and Candle but have never seen it. You've inspired me!

  11. Angela Lansbury was in 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks,' another witchy classic.

    Great share! I'd forgotten about this movie. Blessed Yule!

  12. Hi iZombie,

    This movie just oozes style. I love it!

    Hi sophiadawn,

    I hope you get a chance to watch it in full. It's such a wonderful movie!

    Hi Rue,

    Oh, 'Bell, Book and Candle' is the perfect Yule gift to yourself! I'm sure you'll love it!!

    Hi Lorelei,

    My pleasure. This movie had a huge impact on me as well. I first saw it on TV, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, when I was a teenager. My mother suggested that I watch it because she knew I loved the "Bewitched" series. Well... I adored everything about it: Pyewacket, magic, witches, Greenwich Village, The Zodiac Club, Gillian's apartment and primitive art shop... just everything! "Bell, Book and Candle" always feels like home to me!

    Hi Siobhan,

    I love Pyewacket! I'm mad about all cats, but Pyewacket gave me a special love for the cats in the Siamese family. They have such personality. My cat, Phoebe, is a Tonkinese, which is a hybrid breed created from a Siamese and a Burmese. She sounds exactly like Pyewacket (she's sitting on my lap right now, as I awkwardly attempt to type), and is the friendliest, chattiest girl you could imagine!

    Hi Matt,

    Yes, I love all things supernatural as well, and this film does it all in the most utterly stylish way. Definitely a collectable!

    Hi Nora,

    Thanks for dropping by! I will be off to visit your blog soon!

    Hi pensive,

    Pyewacket was actually played by a whole bunch of lookalike Siamese cats. I've seen pictures of Kim Novak with all the cats. Apparently they used different cats, in different scenes, depending upon the personality of the cat, and the mood of the scene, like whether the cat was smoochy, agile, talkative, etc.

    So what's with the Angela Lansbury fear? You're actually not the first person I've heard say that. Did she play a really creepy character in something I don't know about? Like Erin said below, she was in 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks', playing a witch, but that was a fun movie.

    Hi Kat,

    Oh, you've got to see it! It's fabulous!! As I said in the post, there's a slightly witchy cop-out at the end, but that was probably Hollywood appeasing mainstream audiences. Without giving too much away, I always rewrite that scene in my head, and Gillian is still in black and red instead of lemon chiffon.

    Hi Creepy Glowbugg,

    Yeah I love Jack Lemmon too! And Kim Novak is stunning. She plays Gillian in a way that is so mysterious, feline, and effortlessly elegant.

    I heard that there was going to be a remake with Alicia Keys (an utterly appalling idea), but that was a few years ago. I don't know if that movie ever got off the ground.

    Hi Ali,

    Always happy to inspire a little 'Bell, Book and Candle' viewing!

    Hi Spooky Vegan,

    Me too!!!!

    Hi Erin,

    I love the movie 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'. The novel it was based on was one of my favourites when I was a child. Actually, I keep meaning to check Amazon to see if the book is still available, so thank you for jogging my memory on that one.

    Thanks for dropping by. I'll be around to visit your blog shortly. Blessed Yule to you, too!!

  13. Lovely photos! Kim Novak looks so pretty in this, not like she doesn't always look pretty. :) It's funny, I don't think I've seen this in its entirety. It sounds like a fun movie, and I can see how it inspired Bewitched. I'll have to check this out, especially since it's your favorite movie!

  14. I've only seen Bell, Book and Candle once, but I enjoyed it very much! I loved her long hood cape and muff!
    Blessed Yule to you and yours!
    love n light,

  15. Hmmmm now I am going to have to go looking for that movie. It looks really good, and I love the older movies too! Excited to see it now, thanks for the great post, I will be back to read more!

  16. Hi Justine,

    I think Kim Novak does look particularly pretty in 'Bell, Book and Candle'. She's really not playing an "icy blonde" role in this movie. She's quite sultry and mysterious. She looks so comfortable in her witchy wardrobe too, and she's completely at ease handling the cat. Pyewacket spends a lot of time curled on her lap or hanging over her shoulder throughout the film.

    I'm sure you'll enjoy watching it. It's such a stylish retro movie, and the supernatural element just makes it perfect!

    Hi Susan,

    Yes, the cape is absolutely stunning. I love her whole wardrobe to be honest. The lines of the clothing are all very simple and elegant, but the the fabrics, beading, and embellishments are so lush!

    Blessed Yule to you and yours, too!

    Hi aw,

    I saw the delicious hot chocolate and snowflake marshmallows on your Yule post... you're all set to curl up under a blanket and enjoy 'Bell, Book and Candle' now!

  17. I had completely forgotten this was set during Christmas! I'll have to dig it out for a good wintertime watch. :D Thanks for participating - Dana and I really appreciate it!

  18. Hi witchofhowlingcreek,

    Yes, it's a perfect wintertime movie. 'Bell, Book and Candle' gets me into the wintery Yuletide mood on Christmas Eve... even though I'm in Australia, and in reality it will be hot outside!

  19. I have never seen, nor heard of this movie, but it is definitely on my must-see list now.

  20. Hi AstraeaSapphire,

    I'm very pleased that I've been able to spread the word a little about this magical movie! I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

  21. I have heard of this movie, but never watched it. I am definitely going to rent it! I have heard it is good . Thanks for the recommendation!

    Happy holiday season!

  22. Hi Chrislyn,

    My pleasure. I hope you get a chance to see it!

    Happy holiday season to you, too!!

  23. I saw this film for the first time the other day and loved it!

    I also love your new doll! I should've included her in my ghost post!

  24. Hi Holly,

    Oh, I'm so glad you loved it! Yay!! And thank you for your sweet comment about Merry!!

  25. A great post on an enjoyable movie... I loved this movie as a child .. and did you know that this film was the "Inspiration" for television's show "Bewitched"..??


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