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BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE:


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what is this movie supposed to be?

If a comedy like I DREAM OF JEANNIE, it's neither witty nor cute; if a fantasy like I MARRIED A WITCH, it's neither imaginative nor fanciful.

What it is is a waste of the talents of Stewart, Novak, Lemmon, Kovacs and Lanchester.

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what is this movie supposed to be?

If a comedy like I DREAM OF JEANNIE, it's neither witty nor cute; if a fantasy like I MARRIED A WITCH, it's neither imaginative nor fanciful.

What it is is a waste of the talents of Stewart, Novak, Lemmon, Kovacs and Lanchester.

 

The movie is about romance and love;  someone willing to give up something that is very important to them for love.   Witchcraft is just the McGuffin.    But I only find the movie OK with Lanchester being the best thing about it.

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what is this movie supposed to be?

If a comedy like I DREAM OF JEANNIE, it's neither witty nor cute; if a fantasy like I MARRIED A WITCH, it's neither imaginative nor fanciful.

What it is is a waste of the talents of Stewart, Novak, Lemmon, Kovacs and Lanchester.

 

I've always found it pretty flat myself. Lemmon is completely wasted (he should have played the lead). The film belongs to Lanchester and Kovacs. I love EK's delivery when he explains why he flew in from Mexico to visit Stewart (we know, but he doesn't, that he was under a witch's spell): "I was suddenly overcome and I realized... I had to see you?"

 

His slight inflection on the last line, turning it into a question, is absolutely priceless.

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I have always liked this film a lot, Kim Novak is exceptionally "bewitching" to me here. Admittedly Lemmon's supporting  character could have been played by a lesser known actor, but Lemmon  was under contract to the studio so they could use him as they saw fit. Elsa was her usual  kooky entertaining self and Kovacs was still being established as a film actor (only his second film role).  As much as I am a Jimmy Stewart fan, I would readily agree that he was a little too old for this . As we have often discussed in other threads , Hollywood was always pushing the limits of casting older men with young women (often half their age). Either having  a  somewhat younger actor or a more middle aged woman would have made a more believable film romance.

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I know I'll get slammed for this (just like in the Out Of The Past thread), but... Has anyone considered that this film concerns a small minority group with its own subculture and Greenwich Village bars filled with flamboyant over-the-top types, and that the main character's dilemma is whether to leave that lifestyle for a conventional marriage?

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I know I'll get slammed for this (just like in the Out Of The Past thread), but... Has anyone considered that this film concerns a small minority group with its own subculture and Greenwich Village bars filled with flamboyant over-the-top types, and that the main character's dilemma is whether to leave that lifestyle for a conventional marriage?

And the film was based on the play of the same title by John Van Druten, who was not only gay but was a good friend of Christopher Isherwood. Van Druten also wrote the play I Am a Camera, based on Isherwood's work, which later became the musical Cabaret.

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And the film was based on the play of the same title by John Van Druten, who was not only gay but was a good friend of Christopher Isherwood. Van Druten also wrote the play I Am a Camera, based on Isherwood's work, which later became the musical Cabaret.

 

While I figgered out this one on my own (and felt I was especially brilliant in doing so) I later discovered it was an old theory in critical circles.

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I know I'll get slammed for this (just like in the Out Of The Past thread), but... Has anyone considered that this film concerns a small minority group with its own subculture and Greenwich Village bars filled with flamboyant over-the-top types, and that the main character's dilemma is whether to leave that lifestyle for a conventional marriage?

 

Your take isn't that much different then mine when I said the witchcraft was just a McGuffin.    As you said,  the root of the story is someone that breaks from a subculture to marry someone from the dominant culture.   e.g. was the film trying to make a point about interracial marriage?    I have no idea.    

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While I figgered out this one on my own (and felt I was especially brilliant in doing so) I later discovered it was an old theory in critical circles.

Actually, although I'm always looking for all sorts of subtext, I never thought of the film that way, though now you've mentioned it, it makes sense. Unlike JJG, I wouldn't necessarily call it a "McGuffin;" it's an integral part of the story.

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Actually, although I'm always looking for all sorts of subtext, I never thought of the film that way, though now you've mentioned it, it makes sense. Unlike JJG, I wouldn't necessarily call it a "McGuffin;" it's an integral part of the story.

 

Note that I said witchcraft was the McGuffin.    By this I meant that one could substitute other subcultures \ lifestyle choices and the overall theme would still be the same.    So in that sense I don't view witchcraft as an internal part of what the film was trying to communicate to the audience.    e.g. if the film was made today the man or women could be a musician, that is barely making it and into the late night party \ drug \ many sexual partners scene who happens to fall for someone that works for a corporation etc..

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I find BB&C to be a light fluffy movie with some very good character performances. I love the film score by George Duning and Novak never looked more beautiful thanks to cameraman James Wong Howe. A good vehicle for Novak. Harry Cohn agreed to loan Novak out to Hitchcock on the agreement that Stewart came over to Columbia to make BB&C. Cohn chose Novak's starring roles carefully although he did make an occasional blunder casting her in the title role of JEANNE EAGLES. I like parts of that film but as said previously the part was way over Novak's head.

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I think the picture is about falling in love. The key scene: when Stewart goes rattling on about how he's going to be married the next day (to the equally bewitching Janice Rule -- why has no one mentioned her?), and Novak is humming and casting a spell on him, and he doesn't know what's happening.

 

As for the *other* subtext: that works, too. The first time we see Lemmon he's sitting on the floor, playing his bongos, and looking up at the other musicians, making goo-goo eyes at them.

 

And the entrance to the Zodiac -- why are there ten astrological symbols? My guess is that the studio's research department goofed, and no one caught it.

 

Kovacs is unusually good here; when he says, "This is my hour of grief," I always guffaw.

 

The opening credits should be noted, too: the statuettes that match the actors' names are well chosen.

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It's a good, entertaining romantic comedy of a movie.  Period.  The plot of main characters having to adjust to the other character's culture has been in "romantic" movies (and TV) since day one.  Without some kind of device, no one would watch them and the movie could take place in 15 minutes.

Also, i don't understand why people try to read more into movies than is really there.

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 i don't understand why people try to read more into movies than is really there.

 

They do that in music too, Cid.  In the "favorites" room, I mentioned in reply to a post about singer JOHNNY RIVERS that when he released his "cover" of Chuck Berry's "Memphis", there were some who thought the protaganist of the song was some kind of pedophile!  All based on the lyrics, "Marie was only six years old," 

 

There were also some who thought BEN HUR had a homosexual subtext.  That Judah's relationship to Massala was homoerotic, and mostly due to the lines, Massala: "Friends forever".   and Judah's reply, "In EVERY way!"  Heston thought that it was a whole lotta crap.  So that sort of thing with BB&C (which I never cared for) doesn't surprise me.

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It's a good, entertaining romantic comedy of a movie.  Period.  The plot of main characters having to adjust to the other character's culture has been in "romantic" movies (and TV) since day one.  Without some kind of device, no one would watch them and the movie could take place in 15 minutes.

Also, i don't understand why people try to read more into movies than is really there.

Check out the Genres/Westerns section for "Is 3:10 to Yuma a gay movie?"

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I find BB&C to be a light fluffy movie with some very good character performances. I love the film score by George Duning and Novak never looked more beautiful thanks to cameraman James Wong Howe. A good vehicle for Novak. Harry Cohn agreed to loan Novak out to Hitchcock on the agreement that Stewart came over to Columbia to make BB&C. Cohn chose Novak's starring roles carefully although he did make an occasional blunder casting her in the title role of JEANNE EAGLES. I like parts of that film but as said previously the part was way over Novak's head.

I don't really think Novak was that bad in it.

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They do that in music too, Cid.  In the "favorites" room, I mentioned in reply to a post about singer JOHNNY RIVERS that when he released his "cover" of Chuck Berry's "Memphis", there were some who thought the protaganist of the song was some kind of pedophile!  All based on the lyrics, "Marie was only six years old," 

 

There were also some who thought BEN HUR had a homosexual subtext.  That Judah's relationship to Massala was homoerotic, and mostly due to the lines, Massala: "Friends forever".   and Judah's reply, "In EVERY way!"  Heston thought that it was a whole lotta crap.  So that sort of thing with BB&C (which I never cared for) doesn't surprise me.

 

The Beatles song Glass Onion is all about reading into things.

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They do that in music too, Cid.  In the "favorites" room, I mentioned in reply to a post about singer JOHNNY RIVERS that when he released his "cover" of Chuck Berry's "Memphis", there were some who thought the protaganist of the song was some kind of pedophile!  All based on the lyrics, "Marie was only six years old," 

 

There were also some who thought BEN HUR had a homosexual subtext.  That Judah's relationship to Massala was homoerotic, and mostly due to the lines, Massala: "Friends forever".   and Judah's reply, "In EVERY way!"  Heston thought that it was a whole lotta crap.  So that sort of thing with BB&C (which I never cared for) doesn't surprise me.

 

Actually, Ben-Hur screenwriter Gore Vidal, in an interview for The Celluloid Closet, confirmed those rumors about the homoerotic subtext. He claims that he needed to add an extra layer to the story (it was three hours long), so he proposed the subtext to director William Wyler who hesitantly agreed and who also told him to tell Stephen Boyd (Messala) but not Heston. Heston may not have known, but now that it's out there, he has to deny it.

 

Here's the link: 

 

And may I suggest watching the whole documentary, it's fascinating: [...]

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Actually, Ben-Hur screenwriter Gore Vidal, in an interview for The Celluloid Closet, confirmed those rumors about the homoerotic subtext. He claims that he needed to add an extra layer to the story (it was three hours long), so he proposed the subtext to director William Wyler who hesitantly agreed and who also told him to tell Stephen Boyd (Messala) but not Heston. Heston may not have known, but now that it's out there, he has to deny it.

 

Here's the link: 

 

 

 

Yes, the gay back story in BEN-HUR was very deliberately added by screenwriter Gore Vidal and director William Wyler.

Stephen Boyd was directed to play the back story while Charlton Heston was left "out of the loop" for fear that he would freak out.  

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Yes, the gay back story in BEN-HUR was very deliberately added by screenwriter Gore Vidal and director William Wyler.

Stephen Boyd was directed to play the back story while Charlton Heston was left "out of the loop" for fear that he would freak out.  

 

While you can see such a subtext in any version of Ben-Hur (subtext does not necessarily mean anything was acted on), I'm pretty sure Vidal only started telling this story after Boyd died.

 

Heston gives his side of it in his memoirs, claiming Vidal's story is simply a variation on an old theatrical anecdote connected to Ralph Richardson ("For God's sake don't tell Ralph!")

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I'll pass.  It'll just get me steamed up.  Oops, is that a gay comment?

 

Well 3:10 TO YUMA, or to Bangor Maine, or Bellingham Washinton, or Key West Florida......and points in befween, the Supreme Court has weighed in.

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I don't really think Novak was that bad in it.

I like the beginning of the film and find Novak did fine but when it came to her so called dramatic scenes as a famous stage actress she seems to be lost and overacted.  My favorite Novak role is in MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.  Novak  understood the character well. 

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