Classic Film Reviews – Bedknobs and Broomsticks

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Brenda Fellman

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a really fun film. The basic plot revolves around three kids (Charlie, Carrie and Paul) that are sent away to the country side to escape the blitz during the Second World War. It is here that they find themselves living with an apprentice witch (Miss Price). With the help of a “Professor of Witchcraft” Emelius Browne, the three kids and Miss Price manage to thwart a Nazi invasion.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks might seem familiar to Mary Poppins for some viewers. This is due in part to the film sharing some of the same cast and crew. It is directed by Robert Stevenson, the Sherman Brothers wrote the songs, and both the art director Peter Ellenshaw and music director Irwin Kostal worked with both films. To top it off, the main male lead, David Tomlinson, was mister Banks in Marry Poppins.

This was one of the final films that Roy O. Disney, Walt Disney’s older brother, produced before he died in 1971 (the same year that the film came out). This film may have the same magical feel that Mary Poppins has but Bedknobs and Broomsticks easily stands alongside as a great movie. In contrast, Mary Poppins is far more silly and sweet, whilst this film has a slightly dark edge to it as its set-in WW2. The WW2 backdrop and accompanying atmosphere is felt throughout the film.

Angela Lansbury’s standout performance as Miss Price is a highlight of the film. She is perfection in this film. Personally, I don’t think anyone else would have done the character justice. Bedknobs and Broomsticks also film gives David Tomlinson a lot more room to shine. He captures your attention from the first moment he appears on screen and pulls off this complicated character with great skill. His ability to show the changes that Emelius goes through as his story arch progresses is masterful. The three children are great as they hold their own alongside big name stars. I hate to say this but if I were to compare the kids in Bedknobs and Broomsticks to the two kids in Mary Poppins, these three are better.

The films soundtrack only compliments the film positively. The songs are infectious to say the least. I find that even if you haven’t seen the film in years, you can still sing along with tracks like “Portobello Road” and “The Beautiful Briny”. While songs like “Substitutiary Locomotion” is a song which you might not be fully able to sing because of the interesting and confusing lyrics. But… the song is still very memorable.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks have several cartoon scenes as well, all of which are fun and inventive. The two sequences, under the sea in a lagoon, and at the wildest soccer match ever drawn are well worth the view. They are both fun sequences and watching the actors interact with the animated characters is done well. It leaves the viewer with the impression that the characters really are on the island of Nabooboo.

The film’s special effects are also amazingly well done. The bed and moving object are totally realistic and seem to be able to exist in real life of the film. For this film the special effects team used an effect called Sodium Screen Vapor Process. This was created by Disney and was used in a lot of films from the 60s and 70s, such as this film Pete’s Dragon, and Mary Poppins. If you are interested in seeing how Sodium Screen Vapor Process works, you can click here.

This film is a true classic and one of my favorite Disney films. This film is a gem and should be watched and enjoyed by all ages.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks – Cast

Angela Lansbury – Miss Price

David Tomlinson – Emelius Browne

Roy Snart – Paul

Ian Weighill – Charlie

Cindy O’Callaghan – Carrie

  1. http://developingtechnologiestg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/bedknobs-and-broomsticks-1971.html
  2. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0829038/?ref_=tt_ov_dr
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