Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

bedknobs and broomsticks poster 1971 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Fun and light

Kind of all over the place

Movie Info

Movie Name: Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Studio: Walt Disney Productions

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/Musical/Comedy/Family

Release Date(s):  October 7, 1971 (UK)/December 13, 1971 (US)

MPAA Rating: G

bedknobs and broomsticks angela lansbury witch

Angela Lansbury might just be a witch since was around so long without aging…

Witch-in-training Miss Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury) finds herself saddled with three orphans Charlie (Ian Weighill), Carrie (Cindy O’Callaghan), and Paul (Roy Snart) during the Blitz but discovers that they could be the key to helping her master her craft.  Eglantine, Charlie, Carrie, and Paul seek out Eglantine’s teacher Emelius Browne (David Tomlinson) and begin an adventure to seek out the key to stopping the war.

Directed by Robert Stevenson, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a Walt Disney live-action-animated musical family adventure.  The movie adapts the Mary Norton children books The Magic Bed Knob (1945) and Bonfires and Broomsticks (1947).  The movie won an Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects with nominations for Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, Best Original Song (“The Age of Not Believing”), and Best Original Score.

While Mary Poppins was a staple at my house, Bedknobs and Broomsticks really wasn’t watched.  I always felt that the movie was kind of the “sister movie” to Mary Poppins since they had a lot of similarities, but I never got into it.  Rewatching the film for the first time in years, it has something, but it also feels that it misses a lot of opportunities.

bedknobs and broomsticks naboombu lagoon cast

It’s a lovely holiday with Mary….oh wait…wrong movie

What Bedknobs and Broomsticks has is a big feel.  Having watched the development of Harry Potter, I feel this film has a similar tone.  It introduces a lot of characters who feel like they are going to be big, important characters…and then they really do very little in the plot.  It is like there was a planned sequel with the bookseller, the minister, and other a characters returning…plus, more development on the relationship between Browne and Price.  The open ending feels like it could have become a franchise, but the film didn’t continue despite the critical and financial success.  The movie as a result feels a bit piecemealed together with lots of parts and not all of them fit together well.

The cast is strong and that is always good for a Disney film.  Angela Lansbury shows not only her range (she can play characters like the mother in The Manchurian Candidate but then turn around and play the likable Miss Price), but she also demonstrates how long she’s been a real factor in the cinema.  It is odd to see David Tomlinson as the equally likable Mr. Browne since his character was such a curmudgeon for most of Mary Poppins.  The three children are rather typical Disney but none are particularly weak.  The film features small roles by Roddy McDowall and Reginald Owen in his final role.

bedknobs and broomsticks david tomlinson king naboombu

I saw a codfish this big!!!

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is primarily remembered for the Disney tradition of blending animation with live action.  The sequences in Naboombu are quite strong and maybe even a bit more technically complex than some of the Mary Poppins scenes.  The movie also looks slightly better that even some later Disney movies in regards to chroma-key and other special effects.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is one of those harmless movies.  I think it goes on a bit long and could be cut down some, but for the most part, it is enjoyable and fun in spirit.  The film was taken apart and reedited multiple times and restored in 1996 and a stage play is in development (though plans for its release were pushed back indefinitely).  If you haven’t seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks, check it out…it is a fun ride for the family.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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