Bedknobs and Broomsticks

In a lot of ways, “Bedknobs” is one of a pair of Disney bookends with “Mary Poppins” – or perhaps it is Mary Poppins’ not-so-well-known twin, even though “Bedknobs” movie did wander even farther from Mary Norton’s original book, than did Mary Poppins from P.L. Traver’s telling. “Bedknobs” was released some five years later, incorporated animation and live-action, lively and rousing musical numbers by the Sherman brothers – who even teleported a musical sequence – the underwater fish dance-hall – originally meant for Mary Poppins over to “Bedknobs”, where it fitted in seamlessly.”Bedknobs” – which is fondly remembered by my own daughter – featured a charming spinster with an affinity for magical adventures, three adorable and spunky children, a light touch of romance in the person of Professor Emilius Brown, played by David Tomlinson, who played the banker father in “Mary Poppins.” The plot – such as there is – is not quite as episodic, being that Miss Eglantine Price desires to complete her training as a witch, so that she can work a spell to defend England from German invasion. That is the thread which strings together hers and the childrens’ magical voyage on a flying brass bed, through London’s Portobello Road street market (and a wonderful dance sequence), through a magical underwater realm (the fish dance hall sequence) and the island above it, where a slightly mad king of the animals presides over a knock-down and drag-out football game. The concluding episode – where Miss Price’s spell animates a whole museum full of armor to defend Britain’s shores from an invading German commando party is a creepily effective but not too scary for the children live-action sequence, being that it includes some comic pratfalls.

Extras on “Bedknobs” are sketchy, in comparison to other recent Disney releases; a reconstruction of a song, “A Step in the Right Direction” which was edited out, and for which only the sound track and still pictures remain, the almost obligatory feature about the music with Disney’s in-house composers, the Sherman Brothers, and an original recording session with David Tomlinson. The one bally-hooed bonus feature is an unbearably twee and cutsey sequence hosted by the star of a current Disney show, on special effects – which is as uninformative as it is embarrassing to watch; nothing about how the movie was developed, or adapted, no interviews with any of the stars, or reminiscences about shooting it. Frankly, the bonus features don’t add much to the movie itself, which is impeccably restored, and with all the original footage included.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is available through Amazon and other retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and contributes to the on-line literary magazine, The Deepening. Her current book project, “The Adelsverein Trilogy” is also available at Amazon.com and selected local outlets. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com.

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