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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Bell, Book and Candle
Bell, Book and Candle
Columbia/Tri-Star
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Heather Picker | posted November 9, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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When Vera Miles became pregnant prior to the filming of Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock went after Kim Novak to fill her shoes. Columbia loaned out Novak in exchange for James Stewart's presence in two of their productions, Bell, Book and Candle, starring Novak, being one of them (Anatomy of a Murder is the other). Based upon the play by John Van Druten, Bell, Book and Candle is about a Greenwich Village witch, Gillian Holroyd (Novak) who uses her magic touch to cast a spell on neighbor, Shep Henderson (Stewart), a publisher who happens to be engaged to an uptight former classmate of Gillian's.

Novak is as alluring as ever, and Stewart is adept at romantic comedy (this would be his last), but the two fail to produce the sizzling chemistry that would have greatly benefited the fluff-filled script. The talented supporting cast includes Jack Lemmon, delightfully mugging as the bongo-playing warlock Nicky Holroyd, Ernie Kovacs, Hermione Gingold and Elsa Lanchester. Daniel Taradash, who scripted, wrote the 1955 Novak vehicle Picnic, as well as the classic From Here to Eternity (1953) and the less-than-classic Don't Bother to Knock (1952), one of Marilyn Monroe's early films. Director Richard Quine went on to helm Paris--When it Sizzles (1964) and a few Columbo movies. Though not an exceptional film by any stretch of the imagination, Bell, Book and Candle is the perfect confection for fluff aficionados and bored late night viewers alike.

The DVD: Another solid entry in Columbia's Classics series, Bell, Book and Candle has a suggested price of $24.95. The dual-layered disc contains both a widescreen and full screen version. The widescreen version is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is disappointing, especially in comparison to other recent Columbia Classics releases. Grain and a generally unclean look prevail, and the flesh tones aren't natural. Anamorphically enhanced.

The Dolby Digital soundtrack isn't ear catching, though all of the dialogue is understandable. And you can hear the bongos, so overall there is nothing to complain about here. Aside from production notes, interactive menus, vintage advertising, talent files, scene selections, the original theatrical trailer and bonus trailers for already released Stewart films available on Columbia DVD, The Man from Laramie and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Includes English and Spanish subtitles and language tracks.
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