Greenwich Village witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak), a free spirit with a penchant for going barefoot, has been unlucky in love and restless in life. She admires from afar her neighbor, publisher Shep Henderson (James Stewart).

When Shep returns home from work one evening, he finds a garrulous woman snooping around his apartment who introduces herself as Queenie Holroyd (Elsa Lanchester), his neighbor. After Shep brusquely ushers Queenie, who unknown to him is also a witch, out of his apartment, she glares at his phone and casts a spell on it. Upon discovering that his phone is out of order, Shep goes downstairs and asks to use Gil's phone. As he dials a number, Queenie, who is Gil's aunt, walks into the gallery and urges her to steal Shep away from his fiancée. When she learns that his fiancée is an old college enemy of hers, Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule), she takes revenge by casting a love spell on him, but begins falling for him herself. She must eventually make a stark choice, as witches who fall in love lose their supernatural powers. Gillian's cat and familiar, Pyewacket, becomes agitated and leaves her when she decides in Shep's favor.

Meanwhile, the author of a best-selling book, Magic in Mexico, whom Shep has expressed an interest in meeting, arrives on the scene (thanks to a little magic). Sidney Redlitch (Ernie Kovacs), who is researching a book on witches in New York, acquires an "inside" collaborator when Gillian's warlock brother Nicky (Jack Lemmon) volunteers his services—in exchange for a portion of the proceeds.

Gillian uses her magic to make Shep lose interest in Nicky and Redlitch's book and then confesses her identity as a witch to Shep. He becomes angry, believing that she enchanted him just to spite Merle, and the two fight. Gillian threatens to cast various spells on Merle (such as making her fall in love with the first man that walks into her apartment and sending her around the world), but finds that she has lost her powers because of her love for Shep. Meanwhile, he finds that he literally cannot leave Gillian, because of the spell. To escape, he turns to another witch, Bianca de Passe (Hermione Gingold), who breaks the spell. Shep confronts Gillian and leaves her heartbroken. He then tries unsuccessfully to explain to Merle that Gillian is a witch. Months later, Shep returns and discovers that Gillian has lost her magic powers because of her love for him. The two reconcile.

Oscar
2 Nominations
0 Awards

Golden Globes
1 Nomination
0 Awards
“Bell, Book and Candle” is a romantic comedy based on the hit Broadway play by John Van Druten. The original 1950 play starred Sir Rex Harrison, his then wife Lilli Palmer, Jean Adair, and Larry Gates.

The film, was adapted by Daniel Taradash, and directed by Richard Quine. Quine directed over thirty movies in his career, the most notable of which were “The World Of Suzy Wong” and “How To Murder Your Wife” (also starring Jack Lemmon).

This was James Stewart and Kim Novak second on-screen pairing (after the Alfred Hitchcock classic “Vertigo”, which was released earlier that same year). This was Stewart's last film as a romantic lead. Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn allowed Novak to appear in “Vertigo” (as a last-minute replacement for pregnant Vera Miles) in exchange for Stewart appearing in this film.

James Stewart was a legend, arguably the most beloved actor to grace the silver screen. On the screen, he was an Everyman; George Bailey (“It's A Wonderful Life”), Jefferson Smith (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”), or Mike Connor (“The Philadelphia Story”) could have easily been someone who lived next door or you'd meet in the grocery store.

Kim Novak is a beautiful actress who possesses considerable poise. She was among Hollywood's most enigmatic sex symbols of the '50s and early '60s. Blonde and beautiful, she exuded a daunting intellectual chilliness and an underlying passionate heat that made her especially alluring. Being one of the last of the studio-made stars, she rebelled against her "manufactured" image, struggling to be seen as more than just another brainless glamour gal. Novak brought to many of her roles a certain melancholic reluctance about freeing up her character's sensuality. She always felt as if her beauty was a burden, not an asset. In 1955, she won the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer-Female. In 1957, she won another Golden Globe–for World Favorite female actress.

This was Ernie Kovacs 2nd of 10 films; in his first three he co-starred with Jack Lemmon. To play against his disheveled appearance, Kovacks gave Redlitch a soft spoken tone, and was given "pretty free rein" to create his character. Lemmon said, "My relationship with Ernie, personally and professionally, will always remain very dear to my heart." Richard Quine believed, "If Ernie had lived, the Jack Lemmon – Walter Matthau team might well have been Lemmon-Kovacs. They remind me of a sophisticated Laurel and Hardy." Lemmon had already won one of his two Oscars for “Mister Roberts”, and would receive a nomination for “Some Like It Hot” the next year.

The highlight of the cast to me, though, is Elsa Lanchester. It's unfortunate that she isn't better known, because she was always striking and entertaining in every role in which she appeared, such as “Bride Of Frankenstein”, “The Bishop's Wife”, and “Mary Poppins”.

Fans of the film point to similarities between it and the earlier 1942 “I Married A Witch” starring Fredric March and Veronica Lake, and also, the 1960’s television series “Bewitched” (which was also produced by Columbia's television division), speculating that this film may have been the inspiration for the show, starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Agnes Moorehead.