Bell, Book and Candle Overview:

Bell, Book and Candle (1958) was a Fantasy - Romance Film directed by Richard Quine and produced by Julian Blaustein.


Great cast in supernatural romantic comedy. When urban witch Novak casts a spell on Stewart to lure him away from a snooty former schoolmate, she finds the spell rebounding due to the intercession of a more powerful witch (Gingold). Lemmon and comic genius Kovacs add lots of laughs.

(Source: available at Amazon AMC Classic Movie Companion).


Academy Awards 1958 --- Ceremony Number 31 (source: AMPAS)

Best Art DirectionArt Direction: Cary Odell; Set Decoration: Louis DiageNominated
Best Costume DesignJean LouisNominated

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Quotes from

Shepherd 'Shep' Henderson: She used a cat.
Parrot: Cat!

Shepherd 'Shep' Henderson: Hasn't this cat got anything better to do? Couldn't you give him something to read?

Merle Kittridge: Are you trying to say you're... *jilting* me?
Shepherd 'Shep' Henderson: W-well, that's a very heavy word, Merle. It's a very heavy word. Let's just say that we're... uncoupling.

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Facts about

The play opened on Broadway in New York City at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on November 14, 1950 and closed on June 2, 1951 after 233 performances. The opening-night cast consisted of Rex Harrison as Shepherd Henderson, Lilli Palmer as Gillian Holroyd, Jean Adair as Miss Queeny Holroyd, Larry Gates as Sidney Redlitch and Scott McKay as Nicky Holroyd. There were no other characters in the play.
Gillian's cat is named Pyewacket. This name has become a popular one for cats because of this movie, but few know its origin: Pyewacket was one of the familiar spirits of a witch detected by the "witchfinder general" Matthew Hopkins in March 1644 in the town of Maningtree, Essex, UK. He claimed he spied on the witches as they held their meeting close by his house, and heard them mention the name of a local woman. She was arrested and deprived of sleep for four nights, at the end of which she confessed and named her familiars, describing their forms. They were:
  • Holt
  • Jarmara
  • Vinegar Tom
  • Sacke and Sugar
  • Newes
  • Ilemauzer
  • Pyewacket
  • Pecke in the Crowne
  • Griezzel Greedigutt
  • Hopkins says he and nine other witnesses saw the first five of these, which appeared in the forms described by the witch. Only the first of these was a cat; the next two were dogs, and the others were a black rabbit and a polecat. So it's not clear whether Pyewacket was a cat's name or not. As for the meanings, Hopkins says only that they were such that "no mortall could invent." The incident is described in Hopkins's pamphlet "The Discovery of Witches" (1647).

James Stewart celebrated his fiftieth birthday during filming.
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Best Costume Design Oscar 1958

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Also directed by Richard Quine

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Also produced by Julian Blaustein

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Also released in 1958

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