This witchy movie is a love story based on the 1954 play which starred Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer. I think it owes much to Thorne Smith's The Passionate Witch--the novel adapted into the Veronica Lake movie, I Married A Witch. And in turn it has helped to inspire other novels and movies in which the female lead decides to give up her witchy powers for the sake of love.
It opens, not on Halloween, but on Christmas Eve, with snow aplenty and "Jingle Bells" adorning the main theme of the soundtrack. The Condoli Brothers are the trumpet players at the underground Greenwich Village nightclub named Zodiac, the hangout for subversives and witches. Particularly Pete Condoli's muted trumpet can be heard throughout the movie.
Great supporting cast in this one, including Ernie Kovacs who married actress Edie Adams, of the vampish Muriel Cigar commercials. After Kovacs' death, she would marry Pete Condoli, who had already played with many major bands and artists like Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee. His brother, Conte, did too, but I remember him from the Tonight Show, playing with Doc Severinson's NBC orchestra for years. Carson would sometimes look over at the band and make quips with him.
Pete Condoli was married three times; one of his other wives was actress Betty Hutton. He had a distinctive staccato style on the trumpet and seemed to always be using a mute. A natural for the George Dunning feline/anti-establishment score. Alongside beatnik bongos no less.
My favorite track is from the scene where Kim Novak casts the love spell on Jimmy Stewart and hums along with the strings. I've always credited Novak for this, but the liner notes to the CD suggest that it was Julie London, uncredited due to contract issues. Either way, it is terrific and goes well on my own mellow October soundtrack.
Stewart and Novak were paired again here, soon after Hitchcock's Vertigo. Novak was hot that year (1958), not only with these two but with Picnic alongside William Holden. As a young man, I'd always thought she was too young for Stewart, but watching it now, it doesn't seem that far off. Stewart was then fifty, the same age that George Clooney is now.
I also added "The Witches," sung by Margo of Cowboy Junkies, a lovely feminine song where the woman loses the protection of her lover and decides to ride with the witches and make love to the darkness--possibly open to several interpretations.