As cool as they may be – you can keep your Gremlins, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Die Hard, Christmas Evil and Santa’s Slay. 1958’s stylish, witchcraft laden Bell, Book and Candle is actually the perfect yuletide holiday film decorated around a genre bent.
With a nice portion of the proceedings occurring on Christmas Eve and Christmas, this tale of Gillian, a beguiling witch who falls in love with a mortal, is not only full of romance in the traditional sense, but director Richard Quine also establishes a love affair with the audience regarding the idea of winter in the big city. He and art director Cary Odell create New York City streets full of moody lighting, soft streaks of snow and glorious cavalcades of historic apartment buildings. It’s dreamy.
As Gillian, the divine Kim Novak is also in her arched eye brow prime here. She and James Stewart, her co-star in that same year’s classic Vertigo, establish a believable chemistry despite their age difference and Novak definitely compels in the mystical sense, as well. This is truly one of her finest performances and the layers she provides here ring with believability and otherworldliness.
With stalwart comic support from the always reliable Elsa Lanchester and the fluidly magnetic Jack Lemmon, as members of Gillian’s family, this tale has just enough references to the occult, along with plenty of spellbinding directorial mood-craft, to make it a seasonal must-love for all well rounded fans of horror.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!