Rediscovering an Old Favourite: Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Have you ever had a book or a movie that you saw or read once years ago and haven’t been able to get out of your head ever since? Do you only remember vague things about it, like the basic plot, a single scene, a character’s name, or a line from it?

I know that I definitely have. For me, one of these was a movie I came across once years ago. I remember seeing a few scenes of this movie once when I was much younger, and I’ve been intrigued by it ever since.

For the past few years, all I have remembered of this movie are a few vague details:

  • There is an older woman
  • There are some children (who are likely siblings)
  • I only saw a few scenes from this movie, so I know that I don’t know the plot

And the main thing that I remembered:

  • There is a magical, flying bed on which the main characters fly and travel

Occasionally over the years, I would find myself thinking about the movie and being absolutely stumped because I had no idea what the movie was called.

Until yesterday.

Finally, after years of this partially remembered movie floating in and out of my mind, finally it came to me. I don’t mean that it came to me as in I suddenly remembered it. Oh no, I mean that I happened to check the television programme guide and see that there was a movie on about a bed and magic.

This movie? Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

i quickly turned on the TV to see it, as I had a strong suspicion that this was the movie I had been searching for. And I was right.

I could hardly contain my glee and elation at happening across this movie after all these years! I missed about the first half an hour or so of it, but I watched the rest of it eagerly.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) is a movie about an apprentice witch, Miss Eglantine Price, played by Angela Lansbury (who also played Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote), who temporarily takes care of three orphaned children. They are later joined by the previous head of the magic school, Emelius Browne, played by David Tomlinson (who also played the father in Mary Poppins). Together, they hunt down a magical spell which will help them fight enemy troops in the war effort. Their mode of transportation: a flying bed—the ‘key’ is one of the bedknobs, and magic, of course.

Of course, since I was so excited to finally know the name of this movie, I was inclined to like it. But beyond my own inclination to like it, I actually rather liked the movie as a whole! Or at least, the whole movie minus the first thirty minutes that I missed. It had many things that I love: a partially familiar and talented cast, an interesting storyline, beautiful animation, and catchy songs.

…it needs rhythm, tempo, music! As I always say: do it with a flair.

Mr Browne, ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’

This movie reminded me of the movies Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and Mary Poppins (1964). This was due to a few reasons.

Firstly, like both of these other movies, there is at least one moment in Bedknobs and Broomsticks where there is a more fantastical sub-story embedded within the broader narrative. In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the characters fly in their car into a story world. In Mary Poppins, the characters jump into the chalk artworks and enter an animated world.

Secondly, all three of these movies are musicals with actors that I recognised from other movies or television shows. Indeed, David Tomlinson was in both Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins, and Dick Van Dyke was in both Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Thirdly, like Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ inner fantastical world involves the live-action main characters within a world animated with classic Disney’s flair.

Fourthly, all three of these movies have a kind of air to them which makes me feel like they are all similar, from the costumes to the lighting to the characters’ manners of speaking. All of it makes them feel to me like they are all from around the same era. A few quick searches elucidated the fact that they are indeed all from around the same time—from the mid-sixties to the early seventies. Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins especially felt really similar to me in their nature, which really isn’t all that surprising if you consider that both are Disney movie-musicals that were made just a few years apart.

For all of these reasons, and because this movie had been somewhat in the back of my mind all these years, Bedknobs and Broomsticks felt so nostalgic. But there was one more reason why I felt a strong surge of nostalgia. A lot of the animations in this movie strongly reminded me of The Jungle Book (1967). Firstly, many of the background animations look very similar to that of those in The Jungle Book. Furthermore, there was an animated bear character in Bedknobs and Broomsticks which looked a lot like Balloo the bear from The Jungle Book. I think the same design may have been used for both characters.

Overall, I am ecstatic that I (finally) came across this movie again. I would one hundred percent watch it again. (And maybe next time I’ll manage to catch the beginning of the movie too!)

Have you ever seen this movie? Or even ever heard of it? Have you seen any of the other movies mentioned in this blog post? Have you ever had a movie or television show that you saw when you were younger and you still can’t remember what it was called? Feel free to leave a comment down below!

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