Bedknobs and Broomsticks

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We’ve always felt that Bedknobs and Broomsticks is one of Disney’s most unfairly shunned films. This 1971 psychedelic classic combines live action with animation to tell the story of three young children billeted out during the blitz bombings of London in WWII (shades of Narnia). They’re sent to stay with Miss Price (Angela Landsbury), an amateur witch who’s none-too-pleased to take them in. They discover her (very amateurish) witchery, and blackmail her into bewitching a bed into a kind of magical transport. They set off to London, where they hook up with Professor Emelius Brown (David Tomlinson), a conman running a fake-wizarding school with a stolen spell book. The fivesome take off on a magical journey to find the other half of a spell, Substitutiary Locomotion, that Miss Price needs to make inanimate objects come alive (shades of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”). Their quest takes them to a number of strange places, including a lovely under-the-sea journey:

–and a soccer match with some animals:

The whole shebang climaxes (as you would expect) with a battle against Nazis:

Fun, fun, fun. An ersatz family on a magical quest, cheap, addictive songs, trippy animation, telekinesis–what’s not to love? And who can resist the metaphorical implications of a bed as a site of magical adventure? We watched this on VHS about a million times growing up. It’s far-superior to Mary Poppins, and something of a proto-Potter take on magic (okay, maybe that’s a stretch). In any case, it’s a fun family film for Halloween, and perhaps one that too-often goes overlooked. Highly recommended.

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