Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

There are as many similarities between Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins as there are between the Kennedy and Lincoln administrations – although the latter’s are pure coincidence. Both films mixed animation with live-action. Both had magical guardians who enchanted the precocious children under their care. Both took place in London, and actor David Tomlinson had a supporting role in both. Other than that – completely different films.

Produced by Walt Disney Productions and released in 1971, the film tells the story of three little orphans – Charlie, Carrie and Paul, living during WWII. When an eccentric woman named Eglantine Price comes into their lives, their lives suddenly become far less boring. For Eglantine is an up and coming witch, a student to be exact, studying through London’s Correspondence College of Witchcraft.

When the children discover her secret, they promise to keep it under wraps – with one condition. Eglantine must enchant an object for them. The object lucky enough to receive her “famous magical traveling spell” is one of their bedknobs, turning the bed into a magic carpet of sorts that takes them flying over London, to an animated soccer match played by animals, an undersea kingdom, and lastly, on the German battlefront.

Besides the earlier mentioned similarities, Bedknobs and Broomsticks also incorporated the same director, art director, music director, and songwriting team, the Sherman Brothers, as Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews was even considered for the starring role, which ultimately went to Angela Lansbury.

As a result, Bedknobs and Broomsticks never really got a fair shake during its initial release, due to the comparisons with that other movie, released seven years prior. It still managed to win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, however, and over time, it has become a beloved classic in its own right.

If you have fond memories of watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks in your youth, we welcome your thoughts in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this endearing film.

2 Responses to “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”

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  1. Gina says:

    My parents and I watched this film for the first time on VHS. We enjoyed it, especially when they take on the Nazis during the climax.

  2. Andrew says:

    This is was probably my single favorite movie growing up as a kid in the 1980s. I watched this movie so much that I actually ended up breaking the VHS tape and my parents refused to buy another copy because I was driving them up the wall with it! To this day, it still remains among my favorite fantasy films. Its music may not be as well remembered as Mary Poppins, but they are still some great songs. Tomlinson is completely different from his Mary Poppins role going from a straight laced banker to a street magician and con artist! You can also see some parallels to Doctor Who in there with the magic bed that can teleport through space and dimensions not unlike the Doctor’s police box that can do the same. But for me, what truly captured my imagination as a kid was seeing those knights in armor marching on the Nazi invaders. My imagination was fired up like no one’s business. As a result of this movie, I can’t help but go into the medieval section of any museum and imagine all the suits of armor coming to life! Later in life, I even went to Portobelo Road in London just because it had been in this movie. For those who poo poo it as a lesser Disney film, I would beg you to reconsider. This is definitely one of the Disney company’s most underrated classics (along with Pete’s Dragon).

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