UltimateDisney.com's Top 30 Live Action Disney Movies Countdown
5. Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is undoubtedly one of my favorite Disney movies. Set during the Second World War, Angela Lansbury becomes the reluctant guardian of three children who have been evacuated from London. A short time later, the children discover that Ms. Lansbury is actually a student witch, and the group embarks on a series of adventures after teaming up with David Tomlinson, a scam artist posing as a magic instructor. The excitement culminates when Ms. Lansbury single-handedly holds off a German raiding party using her powerful "substitutionary locomotion" spell to reanimate suits of armor and old military uniforms from a local museum. Tomlinson and Lansbury of course fall in love, and the movie ends with smiles all around.

I admittedly have a soft-spot in my heart to see the British warriors of old reanimated to defend England one more time. Something about that sequence fills me with pride to be English in heritage. This movie is made very much in the image of Mary Poppins -- a magical heroine who is entrusted with the care of children, amazing combinations of live-action and animation, hilarious slapstick comedy, and of course David Tomlinson himself. There is still a lot of original material here, however, and a catchy song in "Substitutionary Locomotion." Highly recommended.

-Jim Hudson

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is much more than the illegitimate children of Mary Poppins most make it out to be. It has many similarities, but in the end, Bedknobs is the stronger film. It has a better-defined storyline, making the whole film more of an adventure. It even has aspects of danger. The restored edition even has a song and dance sequence ("Portobello Road") to rival any in Mary Poppins. Angela Lansbury is much more appealing than a rather prissy Julie Andrews and David Tomlinson quite rightfully has a more charismatic role than his role in Poppins.

-James Reader

I was first introduced to Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the severely-truncated version on videocassette in the early 1980s. I was instantly in love with it. Charming performances, catchy songs and, of course, the Isle of Naboombu sequence. And yet, even at a young age I remember being jostled by the seemingly heavy-handed editing job on the film. Songs and scenes seemed to end in mid-thought. After growing and doing some research, I learned of the original Roadshow Edition and how a goodly portion of the film had been edited out after a poor opening reception.

Well finally we get the extended version on DVD. Despite the jarring effect of the re-dubbed voices (shame on whoever allowed the original elements to be lost or destroyed), this is as complete a Bedknobs and Broomsticks as we're ever likely to get. Finally all of the scenes make a little more sense, the songs end "With a Flair" and I can understand why a well-known actor like Roddy McDowall accepted the role in this film (his reinstated scenes add considerably to his part in the film.)

Besides the point, this is a film I will always cherish. It began my love affair with Angela Lansbury whose exceptional talents still capture my imagination. The songs by the Sherman Brothers are enchanting (and finally available on cd). And the magical story even interested me enough to read the book by Mary Norton, which is considerably different but just as involving. To me, this film is not a "second rate Mary Poppins" as many consider it, but enchants and enthralls in its own right.


Bedknobs and Broomsticks is often regarded as a poor man's Mary Poppins. And maybe it is. It would certainly be hard for any film to match Poppins' almost perfect depiction of fantasy. Still, what is less revered is usually easier to love.

Judging from the release date, I must have been around 9 when Bedknobs came out. I can't remember the first time I saw it, though, most likely because the film fused instantly and indelibly with the world of my imagination. It has stayed with me ever since, and somehow it's like it was always there.

The biggest difference when I watch it now is that the good and boring parts have switched places completely. My favourite sequence used to be Ward Kimball's (unquestionably great) animated soccer game between the animals, and I used not to like the more realistic parts and the dance in Portobello Road. Today, my preferences are exactly the opposite. In fact, the most rewarding aspects of Bedknobs for an adult viewer are probably the overall excellent acting (especially David Tomlinson and the children), the poignant setting in the WWII period and the Sherman brothers' songs. And don't let anyone fool you, the score is right up there with Mary Poppins'. Richard and Robert probably never wrote a really bad song in their lives, and some of the musical numbers in Bedknobs are among their finest ever.

The Englishness of the settings and WWII time period is, at least to a non-Brit, absolutely enchanting. Despite their sometimes almost grimy appearance, the sets and locations all have a fairy-tale quality. And I honestly don't think anyone but Walt could have made three scruffy kids, a spinster lady and a chubby London con-man in a cardigan appear quite as magical.

-Marten (banjoboy)

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is often remembered as a less successful carbon copy of Mary Poppins. Nevertheless, it's a film that deserves to be discovered and appreciated on its own merits. A host of excellent character actors puts in their best performances, and the music by Dick and Bob Sherman is quite possibly their most inspired work. Even though I'm too young to know from first hand experience, there seems to be a real sense of what wartime Britain must have been like. By some strange coincidence, I first saw this film while staying in a small English seaside town, not unlike the village in the film. Perhaps that's what made me fall in love with Bedknobs and Broomsticks!

-Anders M Olsson

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is one of my favorite Disney movies. It is a tale of magic and growing up. Portobello Road is a place where I have always wanted to go, to find "the clippers that clipped old King Edward's cigars."

-Benjamin Waldman

DVD Details
Released as a 30th Anniversary Edition, Bedknobs and Broomsticks received rather satisfactory DVD treatment. Presented in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1, the extended cut of the film is supplemented by a making-of featurette, a deleted musical number, trailers, a recording session clip, art galleries, and 2 classic animated shorts.
Buy Bedknobs and Broomsticks (30th Anniversary Edition)
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