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Bedknobs and Broomsticks 30th Anniversary Edition DVD Review

Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition DVD
Bedknobs and Broomsticks received a new DVD release in September of 2009,
putting the 30th Anniversary Edition out of print.
Click here to read our review of this edition and learn how it compares to the original DVD.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks movie poster - click to buy from MovieGoods.com Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Theatrical Release: December 13, 1971 / Running Time: 139 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Robert Stevenson

Cast: Angela Lansbury (Eglantine Price), David Tomlinson (Mr. Emelius Browne), Roddy McDowall (Mr. Jelk), Sam Jaffe (Bookman), John Ericson (Colonel Heller), Bruce Forsyth (Swinburne), Tessie O'Shea (Mrs. Hobday), Ian Weighill (Charlie Rawlins), Roy Snart (Paul Rawlins), Cindy O'Callaghan (Carrie Rawlins)

Songs: "The Old Home Guard", "A Step in the Right Direction", "The Age of Not Believing", "With a Flair", "Eglantine", "Portobello Road", "The Beautiful Briny", "Substitutiary Locomotion", "Nobody's Problems"

Academy Award: Best Visual Effects

Buy from Amazon.com Marketplace / Buy the new Enchanted Musical Edition

Review by Kelvin Cedeno

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is one of those rare underrated gems
that deserve a better reputation. It's always been considered the evil stepsister of Mary Poppins and has always been overshadowed by it. The film is about a witch in training named Eglantine Price who has to care for three orphans during WWII child raids, much to her dismay. Eglantine receives her courses by mail from Mr. Emelius Browne. Unfortunately, Mr. Browne decides to end the course with only one lesson left, and it's this one lesson Eglantine needs in order to become an official witch. Along with the children, she travels by flying bed to Mr. Browne, only to discover that he's a fraud. He tells her he ended the course early because the final lesson, which he had taken from an old book, was missing. The film follows Mr. Browne, Ms. Price, and the children as they go in search of the missing document.

Angela Lansbury plays Eglantine Price, a witch in training, in Disney's "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." The three Rawlins children are at the center of the movie and here, they're underwater.

When the film first premiered at Radio City Music Hall, half an hour of footage was cut in order for the film to fit in with the holiday show scheduling. The cut footage remained missing for twenty-five years. Everything minus one scene (which will be discussed in the extras section) was restored and edited back into the body of the film for its 25th Anniversary and subsequent video and DVD releases. Does this hurt or enhance the film? I'm pleased to say it enhances. The original theatrical cut, which actually wasn't the version the director wanted to begin with, left certain questions unanswered and was a bit hard to follow. Now, the film flows better and makes more sense. Bravo to Disney for restoring this.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a film that I personally think is better than Mary Poppins. The songs are more appealing and unlike Mary Poppins, Bedknobs contains an actual plot. This movie really deserves more attention than what it has received, and fortunately Disney gave this movie a solid DVD treatment.

Buy Bedknobs and Broomsticks: 30th Anniversary Edition DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, French
Closed Captioned
Release Date: March 20, 2001
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
(Reduced from $22.99)


Bedknobs and Broomsticks is presented in a 1:66.1 aspect ratio, enhanced for widescreen televisions. All in all, the film hasn't looked better and looks very good for its age. Sharpness is all around excellent; only a few shots seem fuzzy. Colors are hard to review, due to the fact that Bedknobs isn't exactly a colorful film. Most of its locales are drab and murky, so it's difficult to really judge.
So, I compared it to the original VHS. Needless to say, the DVD blew it away. The dark, murky London streets were very solid-looking if a bit flat, but still are eons better than before. The animated sequence in Namboomu lagoon showed some grain, but its colors were vivid and rich. This was a very great presentation of the film, and it's amazing that the transfer didn't suffer digital artifacts due to the long running time (nearly 2 and a half hours) and packed extras.

There's not much to say about the movie's soundtrack. The film is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, but like virtually all pre-'80s films, it's basically souped-up broad mono. It sounded pretty good for its age; dialogue is crisp and clear and the music sounds its best. The audio for the film was nicely done, but don't expect your speakers to get the workout of their life. The bit of spatial activity that existed among the track did enhance the film.

Main Menu


Extras are by far the highlight of this DVD. Unlike other Gold Collection titles, Disney gave this film a nice 30th anniversary treatment packed with supplemental features. First up is a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette, "Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers." Due to Bedknobs' interesting history, this 20-minute piece was a treat to watch and touched on things such as what scenes were re-inserted back into the film, the transfer it underwent, its origins and why it was put off for so long (two words: Mary Poppins). The focus of the featurette is Disney's longtime screenwriting team of Robert and Richard Sherman.

Next up is a short but interesting recording session with David Tomlinson singing the ending of "Portebello Road" in a sound booth. I have a suspicion that the original sound from this video was missing because after the song ends we see songwriter Richard Sherman speaking to the composer but there's no sound whatsoever, leading me to believe they just used the film's soundtrack over the footage.

Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers David Tomlinson "Portobello Road" Recording Session A Step in the Right Direction

Also included is a surprisingly detailed Scrapbook
which contains 13 pages of concept art, publicity, and merchandising stills. Film Facts provides 8 screens of tidbits on the film's production and history.

As with "Human Again" on the Beauty and the Beast DVD, the team in charge of restoring the film had only one goal: to piece the fairly well-known deleted song "A Step in the Right Direction" back into the film. Ironically, the crew found every single piece of missing footage left except for the song itself. Apparently, someone either took the footage with them and never returned it or the film was just trashed altogether. The only things that remained were some stills from the scene and the original audio. Both have been matched up and put as a supplement on this DVD. It's a shame the footage was missing since it's a very catchy tune.

Lastly, there are four very long theatrical trailers for Bedknobs and 2 classic Disney shorts which really have no relation to the movie itself -- "The Vanishing Private" starring Donald Duck, and Mickey Mouse in "The Worm Turns" -- other than the fact they accompanied the movie in one of its theatrical releases.

Trailers are for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, 102 Dalmatians, and The Emperor's New Groove. They're also available from the "Sneak Peeks" menu.

Football, anyone? Professor Browne (David Tomlinson) referees the Royal Cup match between this lion king's Dirty Yellows and the True Blues.


All in all, this is a nice little package that Disney has put together. Not only does the remastered film look and sound better than I've ever seen or heard, but nearly half an hour of missing footage was re-inserted back into the film along with a nice grouping of extras. If you like Mary Poppins, then I strongly you suggest you check this out. To those who love the film, this DVD edition will have you spellbound.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com Marketplace / Buy the new Enchanted Musical Edition

Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Enchanted Musical Edition DVD
Bedknobs and Broomsticks received a new DVD release in September of 2009,
putting the 30th Anniversary Edition out of print.
Click here to read our review of this available edition and learn how it compares to the original DVD.

Related Reviews:
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Enchanted Musical Edition) | Pete's Dragon (High-Flying Edition) | Mary Poppins (45th Anniversary Edition)
Escape to Witch Mountain (Walt Disney Family Classics) | The Apple Dumpling Gang | Return from Witch Mountain (Walt Disney Family Classics)
Robin Hood (1973, Most Wanted Edition) | The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977, Friendship Edition) | The Rescuers (1977)
The Happiest Millionaire (1967, Restored Roadshow Edition) | The Love Bug (1969)
Candleshoe (1978) | The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, 2-Disc Collector's Edition) | The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)
The Watcher in the Woods (1981) | Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) | Return to Oz (1985)
Hocus Pocus (1993) | The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005)

Related Page:
Bedknobs and Broomsticks in UD's Live Action Disney Films Countdown

Related Item:

Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Original Soundtrack CD

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Reviewed October 2002 / Last Updated September 2009