Bedknobs And Broomsticks
For longer than most of us have around movies have been a special means to entertain the family. As a kid way back in the fifties having your parents take you to the movies was a very special occasion. Everyone would gather together with the excitement of spending time in that magical theater sitting in the dark munching snacks while wonderful images flashed over our gleeful faces. One studio was always at the top of the list certain to please; The Walt Disney Studio. Even the films considered as minor parts of their canon where typically better than what other filmmakers could provide. Since the late thirties Disney animation has enthralled one generation after another. You can pretty much figure out how old someone is by having them tell you their favorite Disney flick as a kid. In those carefree childhood days there was a rather clearly defined line between the two dominate formats for family entertainment live action and animation. Usually the only way for live actors and cartoon to interact was the occasional special effects shot. In 1964 Disney once again did what they did best and broke ground with a feature length live action movie that included many animated sets and characters. The result was quite a big deal back then and the movie remains one of the most beloved in the Disney canon to this day. Hoping to have lightening strike again in 1971 Disney Productions reassembled much of the cast and crew from that movie to try it again with ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ although no one really would expect this movie to achieve the much lauded status of ‘Mary Popins it is not without a certain gentle charm of its own. Like many Disney films this one has been released on DVD a couple of times before and it looks like people are going to get yet another shot at owning this movie. This does appear to be a fresher re-mastering than previously used and there are a gaggle of new extra features to deepen your understanding and extend your enjoyment of the film.
The story for the film is loosely based on the popular children’s books ‘The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons’ and ‘Bonfires and Broomsticks’ by Mary Norton as interpreted by Ralph Wright and Ted Berman, both Disney story veterans. Providing the actual script were Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi. Both men were very experienced in Disney classics in various aspects ranging from artwork to writing and producer. The skills required to direct live action are different from those necessary for a feature length animated movie. Fortunately, this movie was helmed by a man with a lot of experience in all aspects of direction; Robert Stevenson. He was responsible for some of the most memorable live action Disney films including ‘The Absent Minded Professor’, Herbie the Love Bug’ and ‘Son of Flubber’. Most on point to recommend him to direct this film is his prior handling of ‘Mary Poppins’. At the time of its release some may have felt aspects of the story dealing win London during the attacks in World War II may have been too intense for children. This, along with some references to cannibalism, was altered between book and screenplay. What was retained from the books was the sense of magic and whimsy that can only be richly nurtured through the imagination of a child.
With war raging all around Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury) displays the usual undaunted spirit of the English by continuing to expand her understanding of the world. She has been taking a correspondence course in Witchcraft hoping to gain abilities that will help her nation prevail in the brutal conflict. She is extremely focused on her task taking it, and life in general, seriously. Miss Price is given charge of three siblings recent evacuated from the bombed out city; Charlie (Ian Weighill), Carrie (Cindy O'Callaghan) and Paul Rawlins (Roy Snart). When the kids discover her magical talents Price places a spell on their bed post allowing the bed to take then anywhere they desire. Miss Price wants to find the headmaster of her witchcraft school, Professor Emelius Browne (David Tomlinson) so he can teach her how to bring inanimate objects to life but much to her chagrin he turns out to be s fraud. From there they begin a journey through magical locations eventually taking on the dreaded Nazis.
The music is fun even if not up to the standard of Mary Popins, the songs did come from the most illustrious musical team from Disney’s bull pen, the Sherman brothers. Many cuts and edits have been made to this film over the tears but this release id the most recognized 139 re-mastered copy. This will give the entire family a magical night together.
The Wizards Of Special Effects -- Hosted By Jennifer Stone From Disney's Wizards of Waverley Place.
"A Step In The Right Direction" Reconstruction
Music Magic -- The Sherman Brothers
David Tomlinson "Portobello Road"