Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)

Maggie McNarmara, Dorothy McGuire, and Jean Peters star in this Academy Award nominated film about three American secretaries working abroad in Rome, Italy.

Charade (1963)

Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant star in this delightful romantic comedy involving spies and missing money. Set in Paris. Walter Matthau also makes an appearance as a CIA agent.

The Best of Everything (1959)

Original tagline: "These are the girls who want the best of everything...but often settle for a lot less!" Mid-century drama following the lives of three young career women living in New York City.

High Society (1956)

Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra star in this delightful musical comedy remake of the beloved classic The Philadelphia Story (1940).

Far From Heaven (2002)

Set against a spectacular autumn palette, Juilanne Moore, Dennis Quaid, and Dennis Haysbert star in this compelling drama which grapples with issues of race and homosexuality in conservative 1950s Connecticut.

Death In Venice (1971)

An aging German music composer sojourns to Venice in hopes of improving his health and finds himself enraptured by the beauty of a young adolescent boy. A visually mesmerizing film.

Cracks (2009)

Based on the novel of the same name, Eva Green stars as a young, charismatic teacher at an all-girls English boarding school.

Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005)

Based on the true story of the Windmill Theatre in London, Judi Dench stars as a wealthy, eccentric widow who purchases a theatre and turns it into a somewhat Moulin Rouge-esque venue that featured nude performers.

Desk Set (1957)

The introduction of computer technology renders the reference jobs of three women potentially useless. Stars Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

Sylvia (2003)

A biopic of writer Sylvia Plath set in the 1950s starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig.

Howard's End (1992)

Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins and Helena Bonham Carter star in this E.M. Forster classic set in turn-of-the-century England.

November 22, 2009

Bell Book and Candle (1958)


I know, I have been a bad blogger. I have neglected you for way too long. And I apologize profoundly for my absence. Things have been rather chaotic over here on my end and I had planned two wonderful entries for Halloween but never got around to posting them. And so even though Halloween is over, I thought - well, why not put these up anyway? They're probably going to end up on the blog sooner or later anyway.

The first of these is one of my favorite "witchy" movies called Bell Book and Candle starring the mesmerizing Kim Novak and the always lovable James Stewart. Bell Book and Candle was originally a Broadway play written by John Van Druten and it starred the then married Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer for over 200 performances between 1950-51. It took eight years for the story to make it from Broadway to the big screen and coincidentally, it was released in the same year as another Novak-Stewart picture, the nortorious and critically revived Hitchcock masterpiece Vertigo (1958).

Bell Book and Candle centers around a beautiful witch Gillian (Novak) who owns a small boutique selling African masks, above which resides a handsome book publisher Shep (Stewart) on whom Gillian has a major crush.

Here is Shep, asking to use Gillian's phone because his wasn't working (but we know who made it suddenly malfunction, don't we?).



This below is Gillian's cat Pyewacket, whose name was derived from the one made famous in a witch trial in 1644 England. Apparently "Pyewacket" is a popular name for cats because of this movie.


Bell Book and Candle also gives us a glimpse into the "alternative lifestyle" of New York's Greenwich Village neighborhood during that era. Instead of having a traditional Christmas dinner, Gillian and her family - Aunt Queenie (Elsa Lanchester) and brother Nick (Jack Lemmon ) - go to an out-of-the-way dimly-lit smoke-filled jazz joint overflowing with eccentric beatniks clad in black.

Shep and his fiancé Merle happen to chance across the same night club that evening so they also go in.


An old man dressed as a swami decides whether or not to admit you. Unfortunately there is no such awesome hole-in-the-wall joint in NYC... that I know of.

Gillian showing off her red satin pumps. Black dress + hot red shoes = always a win.

It turns out Merle and Gillian were old classmates and Merle had spread some nasty rumours about Gillian back when they were both in school. It certainly doesn't help that she is now engaged to the man on whom Gillian has a crush! I like Merle's long teal gloves. Btw, remember how great it was to be able to smoke indoors at a restaurant? (sorry, I'm a smoker so this scene makes me nostalgic for that privilege).


Gillian tries to play it cool.

After the night club, Gillian, her brother Nick, and their Aunt retreat back to the house.


Check out the unconventional Christmas tree.

After opening presents, they have a little fun casting some spells:





Later on, Shep stops by to have a drink. Love the back of her dress here.

But from the front, the dress is very conservative.

After a couple of drinks, Gillian becomes a little impatient and decides to cast a spell - with some help from Pyewacket - on Shep to make him fall in love with her instead.


Voilà! It worked! Love the chunky garnet bracelets on her arm.

The story doesn't end there, of course, but it's where I'll leave it so as to not spoil the rest for those of you who haven't seen the movie.

Instead, let's take a look at some of Gillian's other fabulous wardrobe ensembles:

Love this bold leopard print poncho.

The red sweater is really amazing. Looks like the massive cowl neck is flipped out over the poncho and the sleeves do double duty as gloves because I'm not seeing a divide anywhere.

She also has a penchant for wearing hoods or draping a scarf over her head to create a hood effect.

Love that mid-century console table and the stone horse statue on top of it.

This is so intense I am about to have a stroke over it!

I wish I could pull off a dark burgundy velvet cape like the way Gillian does here. And hot furry magenta muff? Love!


This is too cute.

Here's a look into some of the INTERIORS:

Gillian's shop of African masks.


Shep's fiancé's Merle's beautiful apartment. Fabulous silk screen in the background.

Nice selection of artwork.

Love the glass lamps.

Shep's office at his publishing company.


An apothecary shop that Gillian's brother Nick likes to frequent. The window display showcases all sorts of exotic specimens.


Here is the apartment of an another eccentric witch whom Shep goes to see for some "help." It's unapologetically Victorian in decor.

Gorgeous wood archway piece. Also, notice the parrot on the left.

I just find it hilarious that her stove is set in the middle of her living room.


It's interesting to note that James Stewart felt that he was miscast as the romantic lead in this movie and I have to agree with his assessment. It was rumoured that Cary Grant was in contention for the same role and in retrospect, I think perhaps I would've preferred him as Shep as well. Kim Novak, however, was perfect as the sultry, soft-spoken Gillian and I cannot imagine anyone else in her place. Overall, this is a fun light movie that I would highly recommend.


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