Friday, May 8, 2015

Review: Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

Three children are taken from London to the countryside of England during WWII to escape the dangerous air raids that are occurring.   They get stuck living with a woman who appears at first glimpse to be perfectly normal, but after living with her for only a day the children discover her secret: she is an apprentice witch.   Using a transporting spell and a bed, they journey to England to discuss her witchcraft classes with her professor.

     If you haven't heard of this film, I'm not surprised.   It was not one of the most successful Disney films.   I actually had read the book for this before I watched the film, and there were a ton of differences.   I ended up getting so frustrated with the changes that I had to pretend that there had been no book and that this film had no connection to the book.   (This tactic works wonderfully, by the way, if you're ever mad about how a film inspired by a book turned out.   ☺)
     The movie begins with children finding places to stay in the countryside because of the air raids in London.   Three troublemaking children, Charlie, Carrie, and Paul, are the only ones left with a home to find.   They find themselves stuck with a secretive woman, Miss Price.   Miss Price does not want to keep the children with her, but realizes her duty as a woman on the home front and takes the children with her.
     Charlie, Carrie, and Paul don't like living with Miss Price very much.   She has a mean and mangy cat named Cosmic Creepers, and she only has vegetables to eat.   Charlie decides that they should run away back to London, and the other two children agree.   While they are sneaking out that night, they see Miss Price riding a broomstick!   She isn't a very good flyer, however.   She falls down and the broom breaks into two pieces.   Charlie decides to stay and expose Miss Price's secret.
     The next morning at breakfast, Charlie calls Miss Price out on her broom flying adventure.   She explains to the children that she is an apprentice witch, and that she takes mail order classes from London.   However, her classes have been cancelled because of the war.   She decides to prove to the children that she is a witch by transporting them to London to talk to her professor, Mr. Browne.
     She enchants a bedknob from the children's bed and tells Paul that he must twist it on, say where they all want to go, and tap it three times to transport.   Charlie almost stays behind on this adventure, but Cosmic Creepers scares him into getting on the bed just before it takes off.   The bed changes colors a lot (in a flashy way that the seizure-prone may want to look away from) and takes the bed away to London.
     In London, they meet Mr. Browne, and discover that he is only a con man magician.   Miss Price demand that she receives the last lesson of her witch training.   Mr. Browne says that it was all a scam that didn't really work, to which Miss Price turns Mr. Browne into a rabbit to prove that it works.   After being turned back into a human, Mr. Browne explains that all the nonsense words were found in a book of his, but he only has half of it.   They must find the other half for Miss Price to complete her training.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5
     After watching this film, I discovered why it wasn't successful.   There are some movies, such as Disney's Popeye with Robin Williams (which is a five Mickey film that I hope to review sometime), that you truly don't understand how they didn't get the acclaim they needed to succeed.   With Bedknobs and Broomsticks, I see it.   It was just a silly film that was desperately trying to repeat the success of Mary Poppins.   In this case, I say as I (almost) always say: the book was so much better.

Have you seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks?   Do you agree with me or did you enjoy it?


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