“It might be pleasant to be humdrum once in a while.”
A modern-day witch (Kim Novak) living “underground” in New York City with her brother (Jack Lemmon) and aunt (Elsa Lanchester) secretly casts a spell to lure her neighbor (James Stewart) away from his fiancee (Janice Rule). Meanwhile, her brother foolishly cooperates with an occult author (Ernic Kovacs) on his latest book, threatening to expose their true identities.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Elsa Lanchester Films
- Jack Lemmon Films
- Jimmy Stewart Films
- Kim Novak Films
- Play Adaptations
- Romantic Comedy
- Witches and Wizards
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that people who “saw this mild comedy” — an “adaptation of John van Druten’s play” — when it was released in theaters may “have a soft spot for it”, but warns that “otherwise you’ll be disappointed, even bored”. He notes that while a “dream comedy cast was assembled”, “everyone seems to have taken tranquilizers”, and argues that the “picture cries out for wildness, even slapstick humor”, thanks to “lifeless direction by Richard Quine”. I’m in full agreement with Peary’s assessment of this disappointing “follow-up” to Novak and Stewart’s romantic pairing the same year in Vertigo. Novak, while appropriately sexy and seductive, seems decidedly bored throughout much of the film:
while Stewart brings nothing new to his rather thankless role as a spellbound chump.
Meanwhile, Lanchester is typecast in a throwaway role as Novak’s ditzy aunt:
and Lemmon is merely serviceable as Novak’s foolhardly brother.
Smidgens of relief come from both Janice Rule as Stewart’s smug fiancee, and Ernie Kovacs as the perennially befuddled “occult” author, but they ultimately can’t save the predictable storyline from itself.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Janice Rule as Merle Kittridge
- Ernie Kovacs as Sidney Redlitch
No; this one isn’t must-see viewing.