For this month’s final review for Genre Grandeur – Live Action Disney Films here’s a review of Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) by Marc of French Toast Sundays.
In case you missed any of the reviews, here’s a recap:
- Cruella (2021) – Paul
- Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – Jess
- 101 Dalmatians (1996) – Darren
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) – James
- Flight of the Navigator (1986) – David
- Gus (1976) – J-Dub
- The Straight Story (1999) – Rob
- Maleficent (2013) – Paul
- Maleficent (2013) – Jess
- Secretariat (2010) – Rob
- Emil and the Detectives (1964) – Sally
- Cinderella (2015) – Paul
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) – Marc
In addition, I watched 7 movies in my companion series Genre Guesstimation. Unfortunately, none of those films will now be considered among my favorites in the genre.
- No Deposit, No Return (1976)
- The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)
- The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)
- Jungle 2 Jungle (1997)
- Snowball Express (1972)
- The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)
- The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979)
Next month’s genre has been chosen by Emily Slade of Why This Film Podcast and we will be reviewing our favorite Non-Disney Animated Films of the 90’s.
Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Dec by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Try to think out of the box! Great choice Emily!
Let’s see what Marc thought of this movie:
It appears that the current directive of movie studios is to reboot their past movies for newer audiences. The House of Mouse has taken that a step further by remaking their past animated films into live action fare. Disney animated films are rarely in short supply of charm, magic and a sense of whimsy, however, their original live action work has always held a special place in my heart.
Because of that special place, when MovieRob asked me to host November’s Genre Grandeur, I had to choose Live Action Disney Films. When thinking of which film I wanted to review, I wanted to further limit myself by excluding those that were reboots of animated films. After mulling it over for a couple of days, I decided on Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks, released in 1971, tells the tale of Eglantine Price (played by Dame Angela Lansbury), a Witch-In-Training who plans to use her magical powers in support of England during World War II, as she is saddled with 3 orphans all while searching for the spell she believes will turn the tide for England. Ms. Price, the children, and the former Headmaster of Ms. Price’s Magic College, Emelius Brown (played by David Tomlinson), go on a journey that takes them from London to the magical Isle of Namboobu to retrieve the spell.
Bedknobs may not be as well-known as Mary Poppins which also starred Tomlinson, but just as charming. Dame Lansbury and Tomlinson are the clear standouts in the film, Lansbury as the proper Ms. Price and Tomlinson as the sly Professor Browne. Both being tenured actors at the time of its release, they performed as expected, however, the same could not be said for the actors who played the children. Granted, their performance wasn’t abysmal, but re-watching the movie for the first time as an adult, it is something that stood out to me. Bedknobs did have one peculiar casting choice that I felt Disney didn’t take full advantage of, and that was Roddy Piper as Mr. Jelk, he only appeared in about 2 scenes and had less than 4 minutes of dialogue.
The set pieces were beautiful, a personal favorite was the street market where the group is looking for the other half of the Spell book, this is also where one of my favorite songs of the movie, “Portobello Road”, is performed. While on the subject of music, I believe that one of the reasons that Bedknobs may not be in the forefront of people’s minds (as I feel that it should) is its lack of catchy songs. In it’s almost two-hour runtime, the only songs of note are the aforementioned “Portobello Road” and “Subtitutiary Locomotion”.
The special effects are quite cheesy, which honestly, adds to the charm of the movie. Disney used its blend of animation and live action to do the movie elaborate work such as when the group finally makes it the Isle of Namboobu; in other places you can see the strings for the more practical effects, but it was 1971 and I’m sure this was cutting edge at the time.
All in all, I believe that Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a quirky classic that wonderfully encapsulates the “Disney Magic” we’ve all come to love. If you haven’t already seen it, or if you like me and haven’t seen it in a while, do yourself a favor and give it a watch.