Bedknobs and Broomsticks

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Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Bedknobs and Broomsticks poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byRobert Stevenson
Produced byBill Walsh
Screenplay byBill Walsh
Don DaGradi
Based onThe Magic Bed Knob &
Bonfires and Broomsticks 
by Mary Norton
StarringAngela Lansbury
David Tomlinson
Ian Weighill
Cindy O'Callaghan
Roy Snart
Music bySongs:
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
Score:
Irwin Kostal
CinematographyFrank Phillips
Editing byCotton Warburton
StudioWalt Disney Productions
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release dates
  • October 7, 1971 (1971-10-07) (United Kingdom)
  • December 13, 1971 (1971-12-13) (United States)
Running time117 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million
Box office$17,871,174[1]
 
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Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Bedknobs and Broomsticks poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byRobert Stevenson
Produced byBill Walsh
Screenplay byBill Walsh
Don DaGradi
Based onThe Magic Bed Knob &
Bonfires and Broomsticks 
by Mary Norton
StarringAngela Lansbury
David Tomlinson
Ian Weighill
Cindy O'Callaghan
Roy Snart
Music bySongs:
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
Score:
Irwin Kostal
CinematographyFrank Phillips
Editing byCotton Warburton
StudioWalt Disney Productions
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release dates
  • October 7, 1971 (1971-10-07) (United Kingdom)
  • December 13, 1971 (1971-12-13) (United States)
Running time117 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million
Box office$17,871,174[1]

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a 1971 American musical film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by Buena Vista Distribution Company in North America on December 13, 1971. It is based upon the books The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons (1943) and Bonfires and Broomsticks (1945) by English children's author Mary Norton. The film, which combines live action and animation, stars Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson.

The film is frequently compared to Mary Poppins (1964): combining live action and animation and partly set in the streets of London. It shares some of the cast from Mary Poppins, namely Tomlinson, supporting actor Reginald Owen (in his last film role) and Arthur Malet, (Restored Version Only) a similar filmcrew, songwriters the Sherman Brothers, director Robert Stevenson, art director Peter Ellenshaw, and music director Irwin Kostal.[2][3]

According to film critic Leonard Maltin's book Disney Films, Leslie Caron, Lynn Redgrave, Judy Carne, and Julie Andrews were all considered for the role of Eglantine Price before the Disney studio decided on Angela Lansbury. David Tomlinson replaced Ron Moody as Emelius Brown due to Moody's busy schedule. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, scoring 66% on Rotten Tomatoes, and won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

Plot[edit]

During The London Blitz in World War II, a family of three siblings, Charlie, Carrie and Paul Rawlins (Ian Weighill, Cindy O'Callaghan, Roy Snart), are evacuated to the small village of Pepperinge Eye. There, they are placed in the care of Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury), who reluctantly accepts the trio into her home, on the condition that the children are relocated to another home. It is revealed that Ms. Price is an apprentice witch, who wants to use her witchcraft to assist in the war effort. Ms. Price tests her new broomstick for the first time to see if it works. Indeed it does; however, Ms. Price falls into a bush, and to her dismay, the broomstick breaks. The next morning, Charlie shows Ms. Price the broken broomstick he recovered from the bushes. Ms. Price is now aware that the children know she is a witch. Charlie then dares Ms. Price to turn him into a toad; however, Charlie turns into a rabbit instead, much to Paul's excitement. This causes Ms. Price's pet cat Cosmic Creepers to chase Charlie across the house. Cosmic Creepers eventually corners Charlie by a door upstairs, only to revert to his human form.

The children agree to keep Ms. Price's magic spells a secret from the village, in exchange for a valuable item. Ms. Price asks if they would settle for one of her spells, which they accept, and she takes the children into her workshop. There, she asks if any of them have an object that can twist. Paul takes out of his pocket a bedknob from the bed, and hands it to Ms. Price. Ms. Price then casts a spell on the bedknob, in which a person twists the bedknob back onto the bed, and in a firm clear voice tells the bed where they want to go, and the bed takes them to their destination. Carrie thanks Ms. Price for the item; however, Ms. Price reveals that Paul is the only one who can make the spell work, so the bedknob is given back to him. Soon after, Ms. Price receives a letter from the headmaster of The Correspondence College of Witchcraft informing her that he is forced to close the college due to the war and cannot provide her with an important spell she has been waiting for to help her cause. As a result, she asks Paul if she can use the bedknob to go to London to track him down.

Later that day, Ms. Price and the children are preparing to travel to London on the now magical bed, but Charlie initially refuses to join them, as he does not believe in magic (despite being turned into a rabbit by Ms. Price earlier in the film). Charlie changes his mind after Cosmic Creepers scares him again. Ms. Price and the children make it to London, and they quickly encounter the headmaster, Professor Emelius Browne (David Tomlinson), who is in fact a con artist. Mr. Browne is surprised to learn that the spells he thought were merely nonsense words out of an old book actually work for Ms. Price, which she proves by turning him into a rabbit for refusing to tell her what the spell is. Mr. Browne takes the group to a mansion where he is currently residing. While the children explore the house, the nursery in particular, Mr. Browne shows Ms. Price the book called "The Spells of Astaroth". Ms. Price discovers that the book has been ripped in half, and the rest of it is missing, thus explaining why he closed the college before sending out the final spell.

Mr. Browne, Ms. Price, and the children travel to Portobello Road where Mr. Browne and Ms. Price are still looking for the book, and the children are exploring the market. Their search attracts the attention of a spiv named Swinburne (Bruce Forsyth), who works for a man known as the Bookman (Sam Jaffe), who has the other half of the book. Ms. Price and the Bookman exchange their halves, but the completed text doesn't actually contain the spell itself; it simply states that it is inscribed on a medallion known as the Star of Astaroth. Bookman tells the group that, during Astaroth's life, the wizard used his magic to imbue animals that he kept in cages and chains, with anthropomorphism. However, the animals revolted against the experiment, killed Astaroth, stole many of his powers (including the star), sailed away on ship and were never seen again. Bookman mentions that before a sailor died, he swore that he saw an island ruled by animals. Bookman says the island doesn't exist because he looked for it in every chart. When Bookman names the island, Paul realizes it's the island described in a children's book he took from the nursery at Mr. Browne's house. Before Bookman can get the book, Ms. Price, Mr. Browne, and the children escape on the magical bed and travel to the island, which goes by the name of Naboombu.

After a brief interlude with a codfish (Bob Holt) at an underwater nightclub in Naboombu's lagoon, the group is caught by a bear (Dallas McKennon) that is fishing in the lagoon. The bear reveals that no people are allowed to be on the island by order of the king (possibly because of what Astaroth did to the animals). The bear then leads the group to meet an unnamed secretary bird (Lennie Weinrib) and a lion named King Leonidas (also Lennie Weinrib). The king is upset because no one has volunteered to referee a soccer match. Mr. Browne convinces the king he can referee the match, and he observes the Star of Astaroth hanging on the king's neck while being trampled upon several times by the animals. Following the game, Mr. Browne secretly switches the Star with his referee whistle and the group escapes on the magical bed once again. Before doing so, Ms. Price reads the words from the star, which are "Treguna Mekoides Trecorum Satis Dee". Upon returning home, Ms. Price discovers that the Star has disappeared as it cannot leave the fantasy world. Fortunately, Paul reveals that the words of the “substitutiary locomotion” spell have been in his book all along. Ms. Price attempts to perform the spell, which gives inanimate objects the ability to move on their own, but is unable to control it.

Later, when Ms. Price and the children are informed by Mrs. Hobday (Tessie O'Shea) that the children can be relocated, they realize they have become comfortable with each other, and decline. Mr. Browne decides to take the first train back to London, and he bids a sad goodbye to the children as Ms. Price warmly thanks him for all his help. At the station, learning that there won't be any trains until morning, Mr. Browne decides to sleep on the bench for the night, but feels guilty for leaving Ms. Price and the children. That night, a Nazi raiding party invades Pepperinge Eye and commandeers Ms. Price's house. She and the children are captured and taken to the village museum, inside an old castle. Mr. Browne returns to Ms. Price's house and breaks into her workshop. The Nazis hear the noise but Mr. Browne uses a spell to turn himself into a rabbit just as they discover him. He then rejoins Ms. Price and the children at the museum, where he reverts to his human form and suggests the substitutiary locomotion spell be cast on the old uniforms and weapons in the castle. Ms. Price agrees and uses the spell to create a magical army of medieval Knights, Cavaliers, Redcoats, and Highlanders.

The Nazis, unable to stop the seemingly invincible army, retreat back to their boats, but not before destroying Ms. Price's workshop with an explosive device. The explosion knocks her from the sky, where she had been directing the magical attack astride a flying broomstick. Ms. Price accepts that this is the end of her days as a witch, but is happy she got to make a small contribution to the war effort. The next morning, Mr. Browne enlists and departs (with an escort from the local Home Guard) but promises to return. Charlie bemoans that their magical adventures are over, only for Paul to reveal he still has the bedknob, implying that they can at least go anywhere they like.

Cast[edit]

Voices[edit]

Production[edit]

Filming took place at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. The castle scenes were shot on location at Corfe Castle, Dorset, England.[4]

Reception[edit]

Releases[edit]

Bedknobs and Broomsticks was originally intended to be a large-scale epic holiday release similar to Mary Poppins, but after its premiere, it was shortened from its two and a half-hour length (while the liner notes on the soundtrack reissue in 2002 claims it was closer to three hours) to a more manageable (to movie theatres) two hours. Along with a minor subplot involving Roddy McDowall's character, three songs were removed entirely, and the central dance number "Portobello Road" was shortened by more than six minutes.

Upon rediscovering the removed song "A Step in the Right Direction" on the original soundtrack album, Disney decided to reconstruct the film's original running length. Most of the film material was found, but some segments of "Portobello Road" had to be reconstructed from work prints with digital re-coloration to match the film quality of the main content. The footage for "A Step in the Right Direction" was never located. As of 2009, it remains lost, and it is believed that the footage was possibly destroyed. A reconstruction of "A Step in the Right Direction", using the original music track linked up to existing production stills, was included on the DVD as an extra to convey an idea of what the lost sequence would have looked like. The edit included several newly discovered songs, including "Nobody's Problems", performed by Lansbury. The number had been cut before the premiere of the film. Lansbury had only made a demo recording, singing with a solo piano because the orchestrations would have been added when the picture was scored. When the song was cut, the orchestrations had not yet been added; therefore, it was finally orchestrated and put together when it was placed back into the film.

The soundtrack for some of the spoken tracks was unrecoverable. Therefore, Lansbury and McDowall re-dubbed their parts, while other actors made ADR dubs for those who were unavailable. Even though David Tomlinson was still alive when the film was being reconstructed, he was in ill-health, and unavailable to provide ADR for Emelius Browne. Some of the alternate actors that re-dubbed the newly inserted scenes had questionable likenesses to that of the original voices (the postmistress, for example, had a British regional accented voice that changed from Welsh to Scottish and back again on the reconstructed scenes). Elements of the underscoring were either moved or extended when it was necessary to benefit the new material. The extended version of the film was released on VHS and DVD on March 20, 2001, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the film.

The reconstruction additionally marks the first time the film was presented in stereophonic sound. Although the musical score was recorded in stereo, and the soundtrack album was presented that way, the film was released in mono sound. The movie was reissued theatrically in 1979, with a lower time of 97 minutes, with all songs, excluding "Portobello Road" and "Beautiful Briny Sea", being muted out. A new edition DVD called Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition was released on September 8, 2009. This new single-disc edition is an identical transfer to the 30th Anniversary Edition, dropping the Scrapbook and Film Facts to make room for a Wizards of Waverly Place Special Effects featurette and a Suite Life of Zack & Cody Blu-ray infomercial. The Sherman Brothers Featurette, the lost song "A Step in the Right Direction" and most of the other bonus features are retained from the previous DVD.[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film received five Academy Award nominations and won one.[6]

YearCeremonyCategoryRecipientsResult
197144th Academy AwardsBest Visual EffectsAlan Maley, Eustace Lycett, Danny LeeWon
Best Costume DesignBill ThomasNominated
Best Art DirectionJohn B. Mansbridge, Peter Ellenshaw, Emile Kuri, Hal GausmanNominated
Best Original SongRichard M. Sherman, Robert B. ShermanNominated
Best Original ScoreRichard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, Irwin KostalNominated

Soundtrack[edit]

Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Soundtrack album by Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, and Irwin Kostal
Released1971
LabelBuena Vista

Although the film is in mono sound recording, the songs for the film were recorded in stereo. These songs include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  2. ^ 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Cast & Crew' movies.msn.com
  3. ^ 'Bedknobs & Broomsticks' Turner Classic Movies Database
  4. ^ IMDB Bedknobs and Broomsticks. December 2011
  5. ^ "Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition DVD Review". DVDizzy.com. 
  6. ^ "NY Times: Bedknobs and Broomsticks". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 

External links[edit]