I first saw the movie Bell, Book and Candle (1958) on TV one cold, rainy afternoon when I was a teenager. It's the story of Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak), a witch living in Greenwich Village with her cat and familiar, Pyewacket, who falls for her very normal neighbour, Shepherd Henderson (James Stewart). My mother had casually remarked that it was the inspiration behind the television series Bewitched, and my interest had been instantly piqued. As a kid, I loved to watch the reruns of shows like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and of course, The Addams Family. My aesthetic taste is a strange brew of mid 20th century style mixed with the Gothic, and I'm sure a childhood television diet of magical sixties sitcoms filled with witches, genies, and charmingly macabre oddballs is partly responsible for that. Bell, Book and Candle, with its combined retro cocktail chic and supernatural elements, also had a huge impact on me.
Although she had the pinup looks of a standard fifties bombshell, Kim Novak never came across as a ditzy blonde playing Gillian in Bell, Book and Candle. With her smoky, modulated voice and her sultry, languid movements, she's the very essence of mystery and urban sophistication. And of course, we can't forget the other star of the film... no, I don't mean James Stewart... I'm referring to Pyewacket the cat! I love all cats, but it was Pyewacket who kick-started my particular affection for felines from the Siamese family.
The illustration (left) of Gillian and Pyewacket is by artist, Pete Emslie of The Cartoon Cave.