Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) – Robert Stevenson


The recommendations from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book continue following my screening of It’s a Wonderful Life. This time around it’s a Disney film I’ve only seen in bits and pieces and never seen as a whole.

It’s World War II, and an apprentice witch, three children and a conman are on the hunt for the missing pieces that will help complete a magical spell and defend England. Based on the book by Mary Norton, Bedknobs and Broomsticks ends up being very charming.

The Rawlins children, Charlie (Ian Weighill), Carrie (Cindy O’Callaghan) and Paul (Roy Snart) end up in a small remote English town, being moved out of London due to the bombings, and it’s hinted at but never completely confirmed that they may be war orphans.

They are assigned shelter with Miss Price (Angela Lansbury), who is a bit reticent to take them in. She has plans and designs of her own, and children would interfere with her privacy. She’s just been confirmed as an apprentice witch, and wants to try out her new broom.

The children discover her secret and soon find themselves off on a rollicking song, and animation filled adventure, as they travel to London and meet the good-hearted conman, Emelius (David Tomlinson).

As a group they unite, even if they don’t all believe in the power of magic, or family, and begin the hunt for a relic that will enable them to perform a spell to help to protect England during the war effort.


As the hunt continues through real, and animated realms, the possibility of romance blooms between Miss Price and Emelius, but the war may ultimately get in the way when the Nazis invade their tinly little hamlet.

I was delighted by this one, and for the life of me, can’t figure out why I never saw this one growing up. It’s a lot of fun, the combining of animation and live action works a little better in this film than it did Mary Poppins, and I couldn’t help but notice some nice matte work as well.

The songs are fewer, which is probably a good thing, because in this case a number of them are literally show stoppers, they bring the film to a complete halt, though a couple work nicely. The laughs are more aplenty, especially in the climax of the film, when Miss Price leads the charge against the Nazis.

There’s a fun and innocence to the film, but it’s also a pleasure to watch the hinted at and growing relationship between the two adult characters. The children are all great, and very natural in their performances, with little Mr. Snart stealing a lot of scenes.

If there’s anything I really loved about the film, it was definitely the climax, and all the special effects wizardry that went into pulling it off. Even if you know how something is done, if it looks great, you still buy into the illusion, and I bought in completely.

A joy to watch, but I was troubled by the ending. Yes, Emelius is doing what he believes his right when he answers the country’s call, but everyone is so happy as he goes off, not knowing if he will return or not. That’s bothersome. But overall, a lot of fun.



One Comment Add yours

  1. vinnieh says:

    I love this movie, so magical and full of charm.

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