Hitchcock fans such as myself, know of Bell, Book and Candle as an odd little footnote in the history of Hitchcock’s film. Columbia Pictures agreed to lend Kim Novak to Paramont for Vertigo, if Paramont would agree to lend Stewart to Columbia for another Stewart-Novak pairing. While Hitchcock took advantage of the deal to create one of the greatest films ever made, an deep exploration of love and obsession, Richard Quine created a light and frivolous witchcraft comedy.
That is not to say that is not a lot to enjoy in the film. After the demanding Vertigo shoot, Stewart and Novak were obviously enjoying themselves in the light atmosphere of this shoot. Novak plays a witch—in fact the member of a family of witches and warlocks—who uses her powers to make a bachelor publisher (Stewart) living in the same building fall in love with her. When she falls for him too, she must face the decision of whether she wants to give up her powers in order to marry and have a normal life—it sounds rather like “Bewitched”, and it is, only much better, since we have James Stewart and Kim Novak, and, running around to add comedy, the very funny Jack Lemmon as her warlock brother, and the even funnier Ernie Kovacs, as a human writer trying to produce a book about witches. Oh, and one of my favorites, Elsa Lancester, as their dotty aunt.