Monday, September 5, 2011

Bell Book and Candle (1958)

When watching a classic movie marathon, it may be advisable for me to stop when the movies switch from black and white to color. Or maybe just to skip overly dramatic movies involving witches.
Gillian (Kim Novak) is a bored witch who longs to experience "normal" life.  Especially after running into her neighbor Shep (James Stewart).  Despite her aunt's attempts to persuade her to use magic to make Shep hers, Gillian is adamant that she will not mess with his life.  She holds strong only until she realizes that he is about to marry her college nemesis.  A little humming to her cat, and Shep falls madly in love with Gillian.  Drama ensues.  Would he really love her without tricks?  Is he really going to publish a book that exposes witches as real?  Is her warlock brother (played by Jack Lemmon) really providing the author of the book with information?  Will anyone forgive her for stopping the book from being published?  Will Shep still love her if she tells him the truth about herself?  Will she ever learn to cry?  And the drama goes on...

One star. I'm not sorry I watched it, but it did not quite help me to forget that I was running a 99.9 degree fever, and I really don't need to see this again. I did learn that after making this movie James Stewart asked not to be paired with young starlets as romantic interests anymore.  It was starting to feel creepy.  Good for him.  This is a lesson that Cary Grant never learned. The movie also made me reminisce about Veronica Lake's funny I Married a Witch (1942). I would definitely see that again.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

The Shop Around the Corner is wonderful enough as a funny romance about two people who fall in love through their anonymous pen pal letters to each other while unable to stand each other in person. What makes it more than wonderful is that it is also a story about the shop in which they work.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the scenes that had nothing to do with the question of "when will they get together?"  While rooting for Klara Novak and Alfred Kralik (Margaret Sullavan and Jimmy Stewart) to realize what is happening to them, we also get to follow Kralik's friendships and the ups and downs of Mr. Matuschek's (Frank Morgan's) store. 
This is a movie of great dialogue:

Alfred Kralik: [asking co-worker Pirovitch about cost of living for a married couple] Suppose a fellow gets an apartment with three rooms. Dining room, bedroom, living room.
Pirovitch: What do you need three rooms for? You live in the bedroom.
Alfred Kralik: Where do you eat?
Pirovitch: In the kitchen. You get a nice big kitchen.
Alfred Kralik: Where do you entertain?
Pirovitch: Entertain? What are you, an embassador? Who do you want to entertain? Listen listen, if someone is really your friend, he comes after dinner.
And then of course there is the dialogue between Klara and Alfred, who are just so stubborn and determined to be mean to each other.
Alfred Kralik: Are you disappointed?
Klara Novak : Psychologically, I'm very confused... But personally, I don't feel bad at all.

Four really big stars. To be watched again.