Bedknobs and Broomsticks Blu-ray Review
Even though BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS was always in line to be one of a handful of Disney’s live action/animated features, the film was fast tracked early on. While writer Pamela Travers fought with the production team over tiny little details in MARY POPPINS, Mr. Disney gave the green light to the Sherman Brothers to begin writing the music and lyrics to a whimsical story about how an amateur witch and three ornery children set out to save a small British village from invasion.
Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury) is forced to take in three siblings who have been evacuated from London due to the pending war. She reluctantly escorts Charlie (Ian Weighill), Carrie (Cindy O’Callaghan) and Paul (Roy Snart) to her home and when the children are asleep, she sneaks downstairs to continue her correspondence witchcraft tutoring under Emelius Browne (David Tomlinson).
Miss Price is devastated when she learns that Mr. Browne will no longer be tutoring witches. She fills the children in on her little secret, bewitches young Paul’s bedknob which enchants a bed to whisk them away on magical adventures. Miss Price, Mr. Browne and the kids journey down Portobello Road, to an underwater night club and participate in a rousing game of soccer in order to find clues that will help them create a powerful spell against the oncoming Germans.
At first glance, BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS is a delightful story that plunges real life actors into the world of animation. Through this lens, characters have the opportunity to dance with fish, dribble a soccer ball alongside a rhinoceros and travel to far off places by simply turning a bedknob three times.
The root of the story is much deeper. Orphaned children were evacuated from their homes. The threat of war was very present. When life hands you lemons, it can be hard to have the confidence and the strength to keep moving. Miss Price teaches us to never doubt what we can do and to always believe in ourselves. It only takes one step in the right direction. And a little treguna, mekoides, trecorum satis dee for good measure.
Video: I have always loved the combination of live action and animated sequences. You can tell that the film has been digitally restored because the colors are vibrant.
Audio: The music is wonderful and the sounds from the underwater scenes (bubbles, etc.) were well done.
Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers (20:42): This feature was extremely interesting. The Sherman Brothers actually left Disney Studios, but were asked back to help this project along. The brothers discussed how 25 minutes of the film had to be cut, which included a few of their favorite songs. They asked to cut the soccer sequence so the songs (which they believed helped the story along) could be added back. They were denied and still seem pretty bitter all these years later.
Deleted and Extended Songs (23:54): The deleted songs are the demo versions with movie stills marking a storyboard. The extended songs are obviously longer versions of the cuts from the movie. “Portobello Road” was the most interesting. It was four minutes in the movie, but actually a 10-minute long song and dance extravaganza.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (10:06): These deleted scenes highlight secondary characters and also feature more details about the war. In all honesty, most belonged on the cutting room floor.
David Tomlinson Recording Session (1:10): The is a recording session from 1970 when David Tomlinson sings the ending of “Portobello Road.”
Disney Song Selection (20:40): This feature showcases all the musical numbers (even those deleted) of the final production of the movie.
The Wizards of Special Effects (8:06): Jennifer Stone, who plays Harper on Disney’s WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE, compares the special effects from her show to the technology used back in the 60’s.