Movie Review – ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

Last Friday, my parents and I saw a good Disney film on Disney+. This is the 1971 film ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’. I recall seeing this film as a little kid. The film might have been my introduction to World War II and the Nazis in 1940 as well as witches, though I can’t say this with absolute certainty.

The film is based on the books ‘The Magic Bedknob’ or ‘How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons’ in 1943 and ‘Bonfires and Broomsticks’ in 1947 by children’s author Mary Norton. I’ve not come across Mary Norton’s work as an author, but I hope the Disney film is a good reflection on her work.

‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ takes place in World War II and focuses on Angela Lansbury as Miss Price, an apprentice witch, who takes in three young evacuees from London – Charlie, Carrie and Paul. Whilst they stay at her cottage, the young children discover the witch powers that she utilises.

Soon, Miss Price and the children are off on adventures via the use of a bed, which has a bedknob containing a magic travelling spell. They meet up with David Tomlinson as ‘Professor’ Emelius Browne and they also visit the animated Isle of Naboombu, which may hold the key to winning World War II.

The film was directed by Robert Stevenson, who also directed 1964’s ‘Mary Poppins’ with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. You can pick out familiar elements featured in both ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ directed by Robert Stevenson, especially with the animated sequences.

There’s also the England element in both films. I found how enjoyable ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ was, especially with the travelling from place to place via a bed using a magic bedknob. I’m sure, as a kid, I would’ve wished for a bed to travel to any place in the world, since it’s a very exciting prospect.

I enjoyed Angela Lansbury as Miss Price and how she developed as an apprentice witch. Mind you, I do wonder if Miss Price ended up becoming the Balloon Lady in ‘Mary Poppins Returns’. 😀 She was also in ‘Death on the Nile’ with Peter Ustinov and later played Miss Marple in ‘The Mirror Crack’d’. 🙂

David Tomlinson worked with director Robert Stevenson before in ‘Mary Poppins’ where he played George Banks. I enjoyed him as Emelius Browne in the film. It’s intriguing he became the romantic hero in ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ as opposed to being a supporting character in ‘Mary Poppins’. 🙂

The three children include Ian Weighill as Charlie, Cindy O’Callaghan as Carrie and Roy Snart as Paul. All three children are good in this. Initially sceptical of Miss Price’s abilities as an apprentice witch, they come round to believing in what she does and help her throughout the adventures they have. 🙂

The film also features Roddy McDowall as Mr. Rowan Jelk, the local clergyman; and Sam Jaffe as the nameless Bookman who is a mysterious criminal in pursuit of what Miss Price is looking forward in terms of the Substitutiary Locomotion spell. I was pretty surprised to see Bruce Forsyth in the film. 🙂

Bruce Forsyth plays Swinburne, a spiv and associate of the Bookman’s. This must be way before Bruce Forsyth became famous as a celebrity on ‘The Generation Game’ show in the UK. He also did an episode of ‘The Muppet Show’. It’s amazing he was an actor before becoming a game celebrity. 🙂

There’s also Tessie O’Shea as Mrs. Hobday, the local postmistress of Pepperinge Eye, John Ericson as Colonel Heller of the Nazis, Reginald Owen as Major General Sir Brian Teagler of the British Home Guard, Arthur Gould-Porter as Captain Greer, Hank Worden as an old Home Guard soldier, Cyril Delevanti as an elderly farmer and Alan Hewitt as a soldier. All the cast are enjoyable to watch here.

And of course, there’s the animated Isle of Naboombu sequence which I enjoyed watching, including characters like the lion King Leonidas and the Secretary bird (both voiced by Lennie Weinrib), the Fisherman Bear (voiced by Dallas McKennon) and the Codfish of the Naboombu lagoon (voiced by Bob Holt). There’s a very enjoyable comical soccer game in the film, which contains plenty of laughs.

There are enjoyable songs featured throughout the film, including ‘The Age of Not Believing’, ‘Portobello Road’, ‘The Beautiful Briny’, ‘Subsitutiary Locomotion’, etc. There’s also an exciting climax that features an army of knight armoured suits and varying military uniforms fighting Nazis. 🙂

I also enjoyed it when ‘Professor’ Browne got turned into a white rabbit quite often by Miss Price. 😀 ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ has been an enjoyable film to revisit after all these years on Disney+. I’m glad I’ve seen it again. It may be one of those films I might be revisiting again sooner than later. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Movie Review – ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’

  1. zack613

    This movie original runtime was 141 minutes. Unfortunately it had to cut to two hours for its premiere at Radio City Music Hall here in New York City. Cut was almost all of Roddy McDowall’s scenes and three musical numbers A Step in the Right Direction”, “With a Flair”, and “Nobody’s Problems”. The “Portobello Road” sequence was edit from about ten minutes down to three.
    For the films 25th anniversary in 1996 Disney wanted to create a restored version of the film. Most of the cut footage was found. The Portobello Road footage had to be digitally restored. The footage of In a step in the Right Direction was unrecoverable so they used production stills. Angela Lansbury and Roddy McDowall also came in to ADR for some of the dialog.
    Unfortunately, this special edition is not on Disney+ l however, still have my VHS from it’s Disney Channel premiere on August 9, 1998. One of these days I am going to get around to converting to DVD.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Zack,

      Thanks for sharing that there were songs and scenes cut from the original edit of the film. I wouldn’t have noticed those cuts upon revisting the film on Disney+, as it’s been a while since I’ve seen the film as a kid. A shame the extended version of the film isn’t on Disney+.

      Many thanks,

      Tim 🙂



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