70s disney, a step in the right direction, adventure, angela lansbury, animal football, animal soccer, animated, animated movie, animated movie review, animation, anthropomorphic animals, beautiful briny sea, bed, bedknob, bedknobs and broomsticks, black cat, broomstick, cat, classic, classic disney, classic Disney animation, classic disney characters, cult classic, david tomlinson, director's cut, Disney, disney animated, disney animated feature, disney animated movie, disney animation, Disney Plus, disney review, disney song, eglantine, emelius browne, film review, football, king leonidas, London, london blitz, magic, Mary Poppins, movie, movie review, Movie Reviews, musical, musical review, naboombu, portobello road, rawlins, review, richard and robert sherman, soccer, substitutiary locomotion, suit of armor, travelling spell, treguna mekoides trecorum satis de, Walt Disney, witch, with a flair, world war 2
I’m kind of surprised that I’m reviewing Bedknobs and Broomsticks before the film that was responsible for it in the first place, the one everyone knows and loves – a little movie called Mary Poppins. Everything about Bedknobs and Broomsticks from its conception to creation is inextricably tied to its more popular predecessor. When Walt Disney was still tussling with P.L. Travers over the film rights for Mary Poppins, he sought out the rights to two other books as an alternative. Those stories were Mary Norton’s “The Magical Bedknob” and “Bonfires and Broomsticks” which, by an astounding coincidence, feature a magical woman taking in some children and setting off with them on fantastical adventures. Walt eventually succeeded in getting Mary Poppins on the big screen, and it goes without saying that it was his final crowning achievement, the culmination of every artistic endeavor he undertook over his forty-year career, a joyous musical extravaganza that deserved every award and accolade, and is pretty darn good too. And then he died, leaving behind a directionless studio and some Sideshow Bob-sized shoes to fill.
During that time where the world mourned and the company coasted on the last bit of Walt’s legacy, his brother, Roy O. Disney, remembered they still had the rights to Mary Norton’s books and thought, “Well we had one big hit turning a fantasy story into a big-budget partly-animated musical, why not do it again?” It’s not all that surprising that the studio would try to reproduce Mary Poppins’ success, especially now that they forced to recreate Walt’s brand of magic without him. In fact, they not only brought back a few actors from Mary Poppins and even the same songwriters, The Sherman Brothers, but Julie Andrews was the studio’s first choice to play Eglantine Price! As is often the case, the final product doesn’t fully measure up to the original, and yet…Bedknobs and Broomsticks is still an utterly fantastic film. Much like its heroine, it’s a plucky little feature up against insurmountable odds and its own overwhelming insecurities, but overcomes them both through sheer conviction. Whether its an apprentice witch trying to save her country from war, or a studio rebuilding itself after losing its beloved founder, you gotta love an underdog story. The film boasts a great cast, some memorable songs, phenomenal special effects, and even works as an interesting companion piece to Mary Poppins. Why is that? Well, just in time for its 50th anniversary (give or take a couple of weeks), let’s find out shall we?
Watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ credits reminds me of how much a great opening credits sequence, let alone an actual one in modern film, is a dying art. Sure, end credits have gotten a visual boost in the past decade, but the only movies that put effort in continuing the tradition is James Bond. These credits establish the mood for what we’re about to watch, and the best ones find a way to do so creatively and build some excitement while showing off the mandated list of names. Fittingly for a movie about witchcraft and warfare colliding, our titles are done in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry. Characters and events are foreshadowed in medieval renderings, leading up to a clash between an army of invisible knights and a troop of long-legged Nazis.
Our story begins in a sleepy little village by the cliffs of Dover, Pepperinge Eye. The year is 1940, and England stands alone against the seemingly unstoppable Nazi war machine. Two British officers, Captain Greer and Sir-Not-Named-In-This-Film, ask a local who’s blacking out a signpost for directions. The man, who’s doing his job out of fear of invasion, refuses to divulge Pepperinge Eye’s location, even when the Captain tells him he’s British. “That’s what you’d say if you was a Nazi, innit,” he answers back, which, yeah, that checks out.
Capt. Greer continues into town in order to see how well-prepared Pepperinge Eye is should the Germans come a-knocking. What he gets is our very first song, “The Old Home Guard”. The Home Guard was in fact a real thing during the war, a volunteer army made up of people willing to defend their country regardless of age or infirmary. They never saw a day of combat and it’s likely they wouldn’t have made that big a difference in the fight, but the sight of all these aged veterans, armed with nothing but shovels and pitchforks, ready and willing to protect their home from fascist invaders is, admittedly an inspiring one. The song, which is just a slight bit reminiscent of “Colonel Hathi’s March” from The Jungle Book, really captures the spirit of these loyal vets and you can’t help but respect them as they go by on patrol.
We also meet three kids, Carrie, Charles and Paul Rawlins (Cindy O’Callaghan, Ian Weighill and Roy Snart), who arrive at the local museum-cum-evacuation center with other London children who are escaping the Blitz.
And fine, because I know somebody’s going to bring it up sooner or later, the kids’ acting in this is…meh. O’Callaghan carries the trio, but they all struggle with the cockney accents and Weighill as Charlie can be obnoxious at times. They’re not a deal-breaker, but apart from one unintentionally hilarious line they’re pretty forgettable.
Unfortunately for the Rawlinses, the Pevensies called dibs on the mansion with the freak wardrobe and it seems there are no other available families to take them in. That’s when the erstwhile Ms. Eglantine Price rides into town in a motorcycle and sidecar belching yellow sulfurous fumes.
Eglantine has only popped in –
I swear I didn’t mean to type it like that.
Eglantine has only showed up to pick up a package, but Mrs. Hobday, the mail lady who’s also in charge of the evacuees, ropes her into taking in the kids home as well. The thing is, Eglantine is not a natural caregiver and neither she nor the children want to put up with each other. Mrs. Hobday agrees to look out for a family willing to foster them but until then they’re stuck together. We’re then introduced to Mr. Jelk the local vicar (Roddy McDowell), and I think it’s about time I go over something that’s divided the fans of this movie for long enough – the two different versions.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks had nearly a half-hour of its runtime cut out before its premiere to bring it down to two hours. In 1996, a majority of those scenes were reinstated into the film; this new version was the only one available anytime there was a home video re-release up until 2014. As of writing, the theatrical cut is the only one available on Blu-Ray and Disney Plus, with those excised scenes now relegated to bonus features. The extended version has its fair share of problems, like the fact that certain characters had to be redubbed on account of degraded audio, but I still say there’s a lot of merit to it that’s often overlooked. I’m on the fence when it comes to what they do with Jelk, however, not just in the re-edited cut but the first as well. In the original version he’s in it for so little and adds nothing of significance that you’re left wondering why McDowell got third billing. In the extended edition, he has a C-plot where we learn he’s a bit of a slimy bastard who wants to seduce Eglantine for her land. That would make for a creepy yet interesting addition to the story, but nothing really comes of it. He doesn’t turn tailcoat to help the Germans or reform and help out in the end, he doesn’t even serve as a foil for Emelius; he just comes and goes without affecting the plot or even being particularly funny.
Eglantine takes the children to her solitary farmhouse in the hills and lays down the law: supper’s at six, it’s all organic food, and they have to wash up before eating. Truly they’ve landed in a Dickensian nightmare. Over dinner the kids make plans to run away, which Eglantine overhears…but she has so few effs to give that she just tells them to make plans on their own time. The original cut abruptly moves on from here, but the extended cut reinstates a pretty important scene that, if you can excuse how the kids’ soundalikes are a bit off, gives the Rawlins children some much-needed depth. Carrie tells Eglantine that they won’t have a home to go to when the war ends because their aunt, whom they previously lived with, was killed in a bombing raid, one they survived by hiding in the Underground all night. It provides an unexpected bit of pathos to this otherwise lighthearted feature, a stark reminder that the war, even if it’s in the background for most of the film, has very real stakes, ones that emphasize the importance of Eglantine’s mission.
Later when the kids are in bed, Eglantine opens her package: a new broomstick from The Emelius Browne Correspondence College of Witchcraft. She attempts to fly but it takes a few awkward tries before she can get herself airborne. The scene demonstrates why Angela Lansbury is perfectly cast in the role of Eglantine Price. She is Mary Poppins’ polar opposite, one who steps into the new and magical with a sense of unease but is openly enthusiastic about her chances, and she can even handle the bits of physical comedy well. Sadly, this is where we miss out on a song that’s not even on the extended cut. “A Step in the Right Direction” is a jaunty uplifting tune and serves as something of Eglantine’s theme throughout the picture. In a tragic flip from the other deleted scenes, the song audio remained perfectly in tact while the scene itself is lost to time.
As Eglantine finally goes sailing through the air, the children, who are making their escape, spot her and realize she’s a witch. While they’re more than a bit freaked out at first, seeing Eglantine lose control and crash gives Charlie an idea. Over breakfast he shows Eglantine the broken broomstick and tells her, the all-powerful witch who calls the shots in this house, that she’d better start taking orders from them if she doesn’t want them to to spill the beans.
I’ll give it to Charlie, he’s either got a metric ton of chutzpah, or he’s really really stupid.
To prove my point, Eglantine gives Charlie a firsthand demonstration of her powers by turning him into a rabbit…for about a minute. See, Eglantine may be a witch, but she’s not very good at being one. Her raison d’être for taking up witchcraft is so she can aid the British in the war effort. With things at an impasse, Carrie suggests the best they can do is learn to get along. Charlie is all for it…but has apparently learned nothing from his time as a lagomorph and still demands something in exchange for his silence. Surprisingly, Eglantine is onboard with Charlie’s plan. She will make the children a magical present, and if one of them blabs, then they’ll have to return it to her. The question is, what can she give them? Ruby slippers are out of season, an invisibility ring will drive everyone mad with power, and killing Charlie to make a horcrux is out. Eglantine asks if they have anything they can twist and Paul gives her a bedknob he’s nicked from upstairs. She enchants it with “The World-Famous Traveling Spell”; now all he has to do is turn it on the bed and it will take him anywhere he wishes – even, as we’ll see later, alternate dimensions.
But at that moment Eglantine receives another letter from Emelius Browne saying that he has to close the college because of the war. Eglantine’s not happy because that means she won’t get the spell she needs for her one-woman assault on the Third Reich. She tells Paul that she needs the bedknob back to help end the war and Paul asks “What’s that got to do with my knob?”
Eglantine explains that the final spell would be the key to winning the war (I mean the Allies could use the World-Famous Traveling Spell to ambush Hitler in the shower as well as get a ton of POWs to safety but what do I know?) and Paul allows her to use it for a quick trip to London to find Emelius. Charlie doesn’t want to go as he doesn’t believe the magic will work. Some talk coming from a kid who just got turned into a rabbit and saw a witch flying, but then again both spells failed in the end. As Eglantine prepares the bed for takeoff, she sings him “The Age of Not Believing”. It’s a lovely, melancholy reflection on losing that sense of childhood wonder and magic while growing up, and Angela Lansbury really sells it (hey, the woman didn’t win five Tonys for nothing). The song also takes on a deeper significance when you realize the Sherman Brothers wrote it about the Disney studio itself trying to find its way after losing Walt, unsure if they would be able to carry on his legacy and unable to move on from their grief. That layer of poignancy plays into its message, and ultimately that of the film’s, of surpassing your self-doubts in spite of the odds to find happiness.
You must face The Age of Non-Believing
Doubting everything you ever knew
Until at last you start believing
There’s something wonderful in you
The bed is about to vanish when Charlie hops on board at the last minute – not so much because he was moved by the song but because Eglantine’s cat, Cosmic Creepers, thinks he looks tasty in both rabbit and human form. Eglantine and the children fly across the country via a trippy inverted-color warp zone.
They arrive in a shady London alleyway with Professor Browne nowhere in sight. As Eglantine goes off in search of him, the children see a man with Professor Browne’s name on a suitcase go by. Emelius Browne sets up shop in front of a crowd and the children learn he’s nothing more than a fake magician, and a terrible one at that. Emelius is played by David Tomlinson, aka Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins, but the character is a total-180 from stuffy old George. He’s an irascible wily conman and Tomlinson is having a ball hamming it up.
Now the scene where Emelius puts on his magic show is where the longer cut and the theatrical diverge in a major way. In the theatrical version, he fails to impress the crowd with a few tricks and they just leave. In the longer version, he gets a catchy, funny song called “With a Flair” where he sings to his onlookers about how they know he’s peddling rubbish but they eat up anyway and beg for more because he’s telling them exactly what they want to hear all packaged with a smarmy grin.
…It’s an apt metaphor for someone but for the life of me I can’t recall who.
I know there are a lot of anti-extended cut people who hate this song because it makes Emelius seem like a huge jerk, but it gives a fair amount of insight into his character that’s missing from the original film. He’s charismatic, quick on his feet, knows how to play people to his advantage, but a lot of his gregariousness is a cover for his own insecurities and cynicism. When we later learn that he was a former stage magician, it all adds up; plus, much like with “A Step in the Right Direction”, it constantly serves as Emelius’ leitmotif. It doesn’t explain how he’s surprised when his audience leaves in disgust, but it always comes as a shock to a narcissist whenever they’re reminded that people have lives outside of their antics. Here’s how I would have done the song to make it more palatable and have a bit more sense: have Emelius do his failed magic show, then the children approach him once the crowd disperses and Charlie, who’s still a bit jaded about magic really working and has that arc more clearly defined throughout the picture, curiously calls him out on it. Emelius knows a fellow cynic when he sees one and tries to get Charlie around to the notion of using that disbelief for his own profit by singing it to him. Maybe that’s what they’ll do for the upcoming musical version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks (yes, I know as of writing this the show has finally been mounted on stage and they probably don’t do exactly what I just said, but I’m waiting until it hopefully emigrates to the states to see it for myself instead of looking up spoilers).
Eglantine returns and is appalled to discover her mentor is less Gandalf and more Gilderoy Lockhart. Emelius tries to sweet talk her until he learns she’s one of his former pupils and he makes a break for it shouting “No refunds!” (otherwise known as pulling a Grunkle Stan). Eglantine curbs his escape by turning him into a rabbit. Emelius is astounded that Eglantine can really do magic; he assumed all of his spells, which he got from an old book, were just gibberish. At Eglantine’s behest he takes them to his residence to see the book.
The bed transports them to an abandoned mansion – abandoned because of an unexploded bomb stuck firmly at the gate. Emelius has been squatting there since, a great show-don’t-tell moment of how he can spin anything to his advantage. The kids go play in the nursery where Paul finds a picture book, “The Isle of Naboombu”, about an island populated with anthropomorphic animals. Eglantine, meanwhile, wants to search the library, but Emelius is more interested in forming a new showbiz partnership: she provides the magic, he provides the front. He makes his case with the song “Eglantine (Don’t Let Me Down)” though for all his best efforts, Eglantine remains immune to his charms. It’s another fun catchy number, and the extra lyrics in the extended version prevent the song from stopping short like it does in the original cut. The downside is the person whom they got to redub David Tomlinson in the dialogue portions is veteran voice actor Jeff Bennett; a very talented performer by all accounts, but he sounds like David Tomlinson just like I sound like Harvey Fierstein…which I don’t.
Emelius relents once Eglantine gets fed up with his antics and turns him into a rabbit again. He shows her the book, revealing the last page with the spell was torn out when he got into a “scuffle” with the bookseller. There’s only place it could be, and that’s the winding marketplace on Portobello Road. The song “Portobello Road” sounds like a close cousin of “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, but it’s not too shabby; none of the songs in this movie are. Eglantine, Emelius, and the kids have a jolly time searching the wares of various merchants and hucksters. Emelius takes over for a piano player and gets everyone in the groove. People from all over the world drop what they’re doing and partake in the dances of their nations. It’s energized and fun, though I’d be lying if I said it goes on for a while, especially in the extended cut. Sometimes you have to be in the mood to enjoy a lengthy dance break. Though I still like it, regardless, I get people’s complaints when they say it feels less like a multiracial “Step in Time” and more like that decades-long opening of the MST3K Santa Claus movie with kids singing their country’s songs one by one.
Anyway, the number comes to a screeching halt as the authorities close the place for the night. As everyone else troops on home, Eglantine and Emelius are accosted by a shifty gangster named Swinburne. Swinburne is played by legendary British entertainer Bruce Forsyth. He’s only in the film for this one scene but he imbues this bit part with a menacing presence that makes him stand out. There’s a moment where someone gives him a bigger knife to threaten Emelius with but he holds on to his switchblade saying “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather use me own. The sentiment, you know.” I love it when smaller characters get moments like that. Swinburne ushers Eglantine, Emelius and the kids at knifepoint into the lair of his boss, a mysterious fellow known only as the Bookman (Sam Jaafe).
The Bookman has the other half of the book and he and Eglantine swap their halves so they can get the complete spell. Alas, neither of them actually has it. The missing page only states that the spell is engraved on the star medallion belonging to the wizard Astaroth. According to the Bookman, legends state that Astaroth performed a number of magical experiments on animals, which resulted in them gaining sentience. The animals revolted and killed Astaroth, took his medallion and retreated to the Isle of Naboombu to form their own Dr. Moreau-esque society. Paul pipes up that the legends are true because he’s got a picture book to prove it, and as we all know, picture books are the absolute authority in factual unfiltered truth.
The Bookman and Swinburne tell Paul to hand over the book, but they all escape on the bed to Naboombu. They land not on the island but down in the lagoon (I’m assuming they don’t drown because magic) where they befriend some animated fish and Eglantine and Emelius indulge in the “Jolly Holiday” of the feature, “Beautiful Briny Sea”. Okay, this was actually one of the songs the Sherman Brothers originally wrote for Mary Poppins so it’s unfair to make comparisons, even if it’s got the couple dancing romantically together in an cartoon landscape. It really is a nice little ditty. Their sweet two-legged moves win them a dancing trophy at a ballroom competition, but the undersea soiree is cut short when a fishing hook snags the bed. The sailor bear who pulls them up (who isn’t voiced by Phil Harris, is that allowed?) warns them the King of the island has banned all people from entering. Said ruler is a temperamental fellow with a penchant for violence, PUNCTUATING! FOR! EMPHASIS!, and is named Leonidas.
Emelius charms his way into Leonidas’ confidence when he learns he needs a referee for his big soccer game.
And yes, I’m an American and I even I know these British people should be calling it FOOTBALL not soccer, but whatever.
Emelius passes himself off as a referee so he can try to snatch the Star of Astaroth from Leonidas, who keeps it around his neck at all times. The FOOTBALL match is a riot and one of the movie’s highlights, so much so that Dingo Pictures ripped it off for one of their “films”. Yes the scene is just an excuse for the Disney animators to show off and another entertaining musical number was scrapped because of it, but they clearly had some fun working on this. It feels more like a Looney Tunes cartoon than anything they were doing at the time. It’s not so much a FOOTBALL match as it is a contest to see which animal can one-up the other using their natural attributes while stampeding over Emelius as many times as possible. The only thing that would make this game even better would be if it crossed over with Team Fortress 2 somehow.
Leonidas’ team wins, no big shock there, and Emelius resorts to some sleight of hand to get his hands on the Star. Leonidas is furious when discovers the switcheroo and chases them. Luckily Eglantine changes him into an animated rabbit and they make their getaway.
The bed returns home and Emelius opens his handkerchief to discover the Star didn’t make it through inter-dimensional customs with them. Even worse, Paul reveals that a picture of the Star with the spell on it was in a picture in his book the whole time, rendering the past hour completely pointless.
Anyway, Eglantine tests out the Substitutiary Locomotion spell on Emelius’ shoes, though it doesn’t seem to work. Emelius suggests saying the words “with a flair”. With encouragement from him and the children, Eglantine sings “Substitutiary Locomotion”, the obligatory Sherman Brothers nonsense-word song, and succeeds in making Emelius’ shoes dance with her. But the incantation works a little too well and clothing from all over the house barges into the workshop to make mischief. Eglantine cancels the spell with some effort but feels very discouraged. Emelius cheers her and the kids up by cooking a nice dinner and entertaining them with a little playful juggling. It’s a nice moment that shows how this makeshift family has come together without anyone spelling it out for us. It also puts a different spin on the lesson of Mary Poppins; Mary Poppins was all about keeping the nuclear family together while Bedknobs and Broomsticks has a wonderfully modern found-family dynamic.
Mrs. Hobday shows up to inform Eglantine that she found a couple who will take the children in; of course, Eglantine’s grown attached to them and Paul declares Mr. Browne’s their dad now. But while Emelius is just as fond of the kids, he’s not exactly ready to settle down. He promptly announces he has to return to London and bids a bittersweet goodbye to Eglantine and the children. It doesn’t feel much like the standard third act breakup because, well, it feels real. Even though Emelius and Eglantine have some chemistry, they only just met. They’re not gonna get hitched straightaway and raise three kids together. For any movie, especially a Disney movie, it’s genuine and even kind of refreshing.
As Mr. Browne heads to the train station, Eglantine sings a cut number on the extended edition called “Nobody’s Problems” which I tend to flip-flop on. Angela Lansbury sounds nice but the lyrics don’t stand out compared to the other songs, and instead of shelling for a proper orchestra, it’s backed entirely by a casio keyboard. After everything we’ve heard, it’s jarring and comes across as lazy. Though it turns out subpar orchestrations are the least of Eglantine’s problems…
Now before any of you sticklers for historical accuracy get up in arms about Germans invading Britain (historical inaccuracy in a Disney movie? Surely you jest!), the explanation given makes a lot of sense. Yes, Germany never landed in Britain during the war, but this incursion is something of a psy-ops mission. Colonel Heller (John Ericson), who’s heading the operation, informs his new captives that this is Germany’s way of showing Britain that they can invade at their leisure and there’s nothing they can do to stop them. In response, Eglantine threatens but fails to turn Heller into a rabbit. He has her and the children locked up in the museum in town to keep them out of the way.
By now Emelius is down at the station having guilt-driven hallucinations of Eglantine dressed as a sexy magician’s assistant (not an extended cut-exclusive, surprisingly) but he snaps out of it in time to see two soldiers cutting the phone lines. After knocking them out with one punch (awesome) he discovers the farmhouse is now part of the Sudetenland. More soldiers corner him in the workshop. Emelius forces himself to confront his own cynicism and believe in magic for the first time in his life. Once he does, he’s able to change himself into a rabbit and escape. He sneaks his way into the museum and hops into Eglantine’s lap like a real smooth playah.
Charlie suggests Eglantine bring the suits of armor in the museum to life using the Substitutiary Locomotion spell. As Heller surveys the hills, he sees to his growing horror an army made up of English forces from across the centuries advancing towards him.
Schafrillas Productions once brought up a great point about a perfect movie versus a perfect moment using The Prince of Egypt and Shrek 2 as an example. His argument was that a simple film can pale in nearly all aspects when put up against a more well-crafted feature, yet it can be elevated to equal if not greater prominence all thanks to one spectacular scene. The Prince of Egypt has stunning animation, gorgeous music and characters that are Shakesperian in depth, but Shrek 2 has “I Need A Hero”, one of the most fun and badass climaxes of any movie in the last twenty years. Likewise, Mary Poppins is practically perfect in every way…but she doesn’t have enchanted suits of armor beating the shit out of filthy Nazis. Bedknobs and Broomsticks does, and the world is a better place for it. Even if you’re not British, the sight of all these warriors emerging from time to defend their homeland from one of the greatest evils the world has ever known chanting “Treguna Mekoides Trecorum Satis De” in deep ominous tones is a “FUCK YEAH” moment if there ever was one. Even better? Judging by the fact that anything Eglantine enchants with the Substitutiary Locomotion spell acts with a bit of personality, it’s possible she didn’t just bring the armor to life but resurrected the spirits of the soldiers who wore them.
Eglantine, commanding her undead army from above, sics them on the Germans. No bullets can stop their rampage, as Heller and his men quickly learn. Soon the fighting suits are soon kicking their asses and making them regret many of their life choices.
Heller is forced to retreat back to Berlin and report that he was beaten by the Murder She Wrote lady, but he blows up the workshop as a last-ditch middle finger to her. This unfortunately has the side effect of nixing Eglantine’s powers, causing the suits of armor to go inert and her broom to crash. She survives the fall and the Old Home Guard shows up to chase the last of the Nazis off their shores. Everyone is sad because it seems Eglantine can’t be a witch anymore, but Eglantine says something amounting to “I made my contribution to the war and besides I never liked the idea of doing anything involving poisoned dragon’s livers anyway” and I call bullshit on this big time. She still knows the Substitutiary Locomotion spell as well as the traveling spell and where the Bookman lives. There is literally nothing stopping her from picking up the pieces and continuing her awesome witchery. This is especially egregious when we see in the next scene Emilius has decided to enlist in the war, leaving Eglantine and the children behind. So Emelius, the man of the family, can go abroad and blow Nazis to kingdom come, but Eglantine, the badass witch who can summon knights from beyond the grave to do her bidding, has to stay home to keep house and look after the kids like a good ordinary wife and mother.
Emelius says his goodbyes and the Home Guard sees him off to the train station, but Paul reveals he’s still got the magical bedknob, hinting at the possibility of future adventures.
Hey, it took Mary Poppins over fifty years to get a sequel. I can wait however long it takes to finally see Eglantine fuck up more Nazis.
Ah, one can dream…
Bedknobs and Broomsticks isn’t perfect, though a lot of that has to do with being in Mary Poppins’ shadow. But when it works, by God does it work. Bedknobs and Broomsticks was nominated for five Academy Awards, one of them being Best Song for “The Age of Not Believing”, but won only one for Best Special Effects (which is very much deserved). Though it failed to meet box office expectations, it holds a cozy cult status that’s only grown over time. Regardless of its obscurity Bedknobs still stands as one of the most enjoyable Disney outings and I love sharing it with those who haven’t seen it yet. I easily count it among my favorites. So do yourself a favor and check it out either version when you can. You’d be surprised by just how much magic it holds.
Thank you for reading! I’d like to give a shout-out to my generous patron Amelia Jones, who requested I review this film, and I also want to welcome my newest patron TylerFG, who runs the excellent podcast Channel KRT. Thanks for joining us Tyler! Patreon supporters can get such fun perks as sneak peeks of reviews, extra votes, movie requests and more!
Christmas Shelf Reviews kick off on December 1st with a look at The Little Match Girl…bring your tissues, folks.
Screencaps courtesy of Animation Screencaps
Abigail Kane said:
Wasn’t expecting this one (I’m stilled waiting for Fievel Goes West, tbh), but it’s a good way to start off my Saturday morning. As for the movie itself:
Me: Ah, yes, nice movie. Not favorite, but good. Very entertaining.
The Jewish Part of My Brain: I like it when people on TV punch Nazis. 🙂
Hmm…I wonder what’s for Christmas…
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The Animation Commendation said:
Great review! I agree that it’s not the best, but it does work when it works. I love it a lot and I do watch the extended version even though that super-long Portobello Road sequence never seems to end!
“There’s no earthly way of knowing…” “Shut up, Charlie.” I LOL’ed at that!
You know I never thought about “With a Flair” being a metaphor for a certain someone, but now that you mention it…
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The Library Key said:
My mom has fond memories of seeing this movie in theaters when it first came out in the 70s. She therefore rented this movie for my sisters and me when we were kids, and I haven’t stopped watching it since! It’s such a cozy, fun little movie, and it’s hard to begin summarizing what’s so good about it. Though I think you did a pretty good job summarizing it all yourself, haha! 🙂
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Thanks! 😊 Those sound like some sweet memories 💜
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