“Bedknobs and Broomsticks” revisited

I looooove this movie; I have loved it ever since I first saw it (I don’t remember that, but I was probably about 4 or so). It’s been about six years since I last watched it, but it’s one of those childhood treasures I want to keep in my heart forever.

So, when my mom got me the DVD for Christmas, I decided it was time to look at film with a critical eye and give the DVD another chance.

A brief plot summary: Angela Lansbury stars as Miss Price, an eccentric woman living by herself in a little village in the English seaside in 1940. She reluctantly takes in three Cockney orphans (Charlie, Carrie and Paul) from London; they were shipped out to the country to keep them safe during the Blitz. The kids, however, plan to run back to London, but instead see her going for a midnight ride on a broomstick (right before she crashes).

 

Miss Price is only an apprentice witch who is driven to use her skills to help the war effort. She and the kids strike a bargain, and Miss Price enchants a bedknob to take them anywhere they want to go. But first they head to London to track down her AWOL Professor Browne (David Tomlinson, better known as the Dad from “Mary Poppins”) who’s absconded with the final spell.

This makeshift family has many adventures, go to exotic new places and even save the day. What kid could ask for more?

Unfortunately, similar to my “Heavenly Creatures” adventure this year, the version that I love (the 117 minute version I have on VHS) is not available on DVD. Instead, the folks at Disney decided to restore about 21 minutes of footage to the cut and only offer that on DVD.

Sigh. I’ve seen this version before, but I was a bit upset with it, and knowing it was the only one available, I refused to buy the DVD in protest.

But things can change over time, and in that spirit I approached the movie.

First off, the picture looks gorgeous on my flat screen. The film is from 1971, and while the animation doesn’t necessarily sparkle, the colors, real life and animated, are richer and cleaner than I’ve ever seen them. Sure, the reality/animation isn’t seamless, but as there was only one part where you can tell it’s not the same set, I’ll give it a pass.

Second, again, those scenes were deleted for a reason!!! Granted, some are cute, but other than adding some texture to Roddy McDowall’s unnecessary character, there was NO REASON to put them back in. End rant.

And the best news of all; even as an adult, I still get caught up in the wonder of a traveling bed. My mom could never figure out what was it that made me obsessively watch this film, but I think I have. As a child, I kept hoping that I could look around a corner, or in a wardrobe, and just stumble into a foreign and/or magical land. If I just looked hard enough, I could find it. Of course, part of growing up is learning that there is no magic in the real world, and that truth still makes me a bit sad at times.

But like Charlie, Carrie and Paul, I can always go back to “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and believe.

“Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (1971)

Directed by Robert Stevenson

Written by Ralph Wright, Ted Berman, Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi  

Starring: Angela Lansbury (Miss Price)

David Tomlinson (Professor Browne)