DISMEMBERCEMBER: Bell, Book and Candle (1958)

Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) owns a store in Greenwich Village but she’s really a witch and even with all her magic she’s still bored with life and wonders what it would be like with new neighbor Shep Henderson (James Stewart). On Christmas Eve, Shep finds Gillian’s aunt Queenie (Elsa Lanchester, the Bride of Frankenstein) in his house and before he kicks her out, she hexes his phone, which forces him to visit Gillian’s apartment to use her phone. Their evening ends up at the Zodiac Club, where Shep brings his fiancee Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule) and Queenie shows up with Gillian and her brother Nicky Holroyd (Jack Lemmon), a bongo playing warlock. It turns out that Gillian and Merle have hated one another since college, so what better payback than to work with her cat familiar Pyewacket to cast a love spell on Shep.

Meanwhile, Nicky wants to get rich exposing the world of witchcraft to Sidney Redlitch (Ernie Kovacs), the publisher of Magic In Mexico. Gillian and Nicky fight over this as well as her wanting to renounce magic when she falls in love with Shep. Yet because she is a witch and she initially got with him to spite her old enemy, she decides to tell the truth even if her chance at love will be gone. Or will it?

Directed by Richard Quine and written by Daniel Taradash from the play by John Van Druten, this was released as a blockbuster and was such a big movie that it was lifted by Bewitched creator Sol Saks, who took some of this and a little bit of I Married a Witch to make his show. It almost became a series in 1976 with Yvette Mimieux as Gillian, Michael Murphy as Shep, Doris Roberts as Aunt Enid and John Pleshette as Nicky.

The title is a reference to exorcism, which is way before anyone would know what that was.

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