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Bedknobs and Broomsticks(1971)
Hold on tight for a magical, musical, fun-filled journey! When young Charlie, Carrie and Paul move to a small village during World War II, they discover their host, Miss Price (Angela Lansbury), is an apprentice witch! Although her early attempts at magic create hilarious results, she successfully casts a traveling spell on an ordinary bedknob, and they fly to the fantastic, animated Isle of Naboombu to find a powerful spell that will save England!
For more about Bedknobs and Broomsticks and the Bedknobs and Broomsticks Blu-ray release, see Bedknobs and Broomsticks Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 24, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson, Roddy McDowall, Sam Jaffe, Bob Holt, Dal McKennon
Director: Robert Stevenson (I)
» See full cast & crew
Bedknobs and Broomsticks Blu-ray Review
"Well, it needs rhythm, tempo, music! As I always say: do it with a flair!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 24, 2014
Disney loves August. I don't quite understand the trifecta of late summer, Blu-ray and family entertainment, but the Mouse House has once again settled on August as the month du jour, unleashing another deluge of new releases. Four Walt Disney Animation Studios feature films are making their BD debut -- Fun and Fancy Free (1947), The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), Hercules (1997) and Tarzan (1999) -- as is the nearly forgotten RKO Radio Pictures feature The Reluctant Dragon (1941), live-action classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), direct-to-video DisneyToon movie Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers (2004), brand spankin' new sequel Muppets Most Wanted (2014) and DisneyNature's latest natural history documentary, Bears (2014). For those keeping count, that's nine films spread across seven Blu-ray releases. (The Ichabod and Mr. Toad 2-Movie Collection is actually a 3-Movie Collection, with The Reluctant Dragon buried inside.) Whew. Most studios would space it out. But Disney? Open the floodgates, gentlemen. Given the second, sometimes third tier nature of most of the films, though (save Muppets Most Wanted), it isn't exactly overwhelming. Most fans will pick and choose their favorites. Only a select few completists will have to find a way to purchase all seven in bulk.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a classic in its own right, although it will forever be considered a chip off the ol' Mary Poppins. Cursed by several startling similarities, the film is forced once too often to fight for its own identity; eventually doing so with a spectacularly magical finale involving suits of armor battling Nazis, but not before risking dismissal by some as Poppins Lite. Does that make Bedknobs and Broomsticks a lesser film? Not in my book. There are still plenty of tricks and treats to be had, as well as an entertaining adventure sure to appeal to young audiences and their nostalgic parents for generations to come. It never reaches the heights of Mary Poppins, mind you, but it brushes close enough to greatness to warrant keeping its memory alive for another forty years. At least for this little boy-at-heart. I loved Bedknobs and Broomsticks as a child, and I've had a tough time feeling anything but love for it this time around.
When young Charlie, Carrie and Paul (Ian Weighill, Cindy O'Callaghan and Roy Snart) move to a small village during World War II, they discover their host, Miss Price (Angela Lansbury), is an apprentice witch at the Correspondence College of Witchcraft. Although her early attempts at magic end with hilarious results, she eventually casts a successful spell on an ordinary bedknob, creating a magic flying machine capable of wondrous travel. Soon they and charming con-artist Mr. Emelius Browne (David Tomlinson) are whisked away to the fantastic, animated Isle of Naboombu in the hopes of finding a powerful medallion, the Star of Astaroth, that promises to save England from the Germans' terrible blitz on London.
Comparisons to Mary Poppins aren't entirely unjust, much as lifelong fans of Bedknobs and Broomsticks grow tired of hearing about it. Born in the offices of Walt Disney Productions, the films share the same director (Robert Stevenson), the same screenwriters (Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi), the same producer (Walsh), and a lead actor (Tomlinson). There's even a dazzling-in-its-era live-action/animation sequence involving a magical woman and her male companion taking a group of children to a world teeming with anthropomorphic animals. A half dozen songs later, it's hard not to notice the similarities. (Even the WWII setting and Nazi antagonists aren't exactly unique. If The Sound of Music pops into your head, you aren't alone.) Had P. L. Travers been more open to a Poppins sequel, Bedknobs and Broomsticks might not exist at all. Mull that alternate reality over for a moment.
However, if viewed as an unapologetic spiritual successor to Mary Poppins, any parallels cease to matter. Lansbury and Tomlinson are nothing short of a delight; a blast of dueling charisma and colliding eccentricities as amusing as they are unforgettable. Their spell-swept adventure to Naboombu is decidedly smaller in scope and far less extraordinary than your rose-colored childhood memories may recall, but there remains a quaint and infectious magic there that's both fun and funny. And if you aren't bouncing in your seat by the time Miss Price's "army" marches on the German lines (no matter how poorly the special effects have aged), you've officially failed to connect with your inner five-year-old. Congratulations, you're an old, cynical man. Enjoy your rice cakes and funeral arrangements. For those willing to pay close attention to its enchantments, though, Bedknobs and Broomsticks has a spell it's eager to cast on newcomers, even some forty-three years after it first entranced audiences with its conjured comedy, soaring songs and endearing cast of characters.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks Blu-ray, Video Quality
Bedknobs and Broomsticks shares one additional similarity with Mary Poppins: a wonderfully filmic remaster and 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. Though a bit rougher around the edges, particularly in regards to many of the darker or moonlit sequences, grain has been almost perfectly preserved, color and contrast have been rejuvenated (with striking primaries and deep blacks), and detail has been renewed. Edges are refined and natural, without much in the way of ringing or softness to report. Textures are crisp and revealing as well, and impress as often and as much as the original elements allow. There are a few unsightly shots, and some problematic moments during the live-action/animation stretch of the film, each instance traces back to the age of the film, the aesthetics of the original photography, and the limitations of the era. Likewise, while skintones are occasionally a tad pale, critics should shake their collective finger at cinematographer Frank Phillips. Not Disney's remastering efforts. Mary Poppins may subjectively offer the more attractive video presentation, but, objectively, Bedknobs and Broomsticks delivers the same level of faithful restoration and should be praised accordingly.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track isn't quite as remarkable as its video presentation, but for a six-channel remix of a forty-three-year old movie, it holds its own. Rarely too underwhelming, rarely too overbearing. Dialogue is clean and clear, without many mishaps of note or examples of poor prioritization. Age has taken a toll -- intermittent hissing and other inconsistencies are still present to a small degree -- but audiophiles won't bat an eye. LFE output is restrained but satisfying, rear speaker activity is light and playful (without veering into overzealous revisionism), and the soundfield is pleasing, flat and front-heavy as it tends to be. All told, I didn't run into any real issues. Disney's work here is commendable.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Bedknobs and Broomsticks Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Bedknobs and Broomsticks probably isn't as strong a film as my childhood nostalgia is telling me. No matter. I loved it then, I love it now, and nothing is about to change that. Disney's Blu-ray release is quite good too, although the lack of the film's extended cut is sure to leave diehard fans wanting. For those who soldier through regardless, prepare to be treated to a fit and faithful video presentation, a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a semi-decent (albeit sometimes baffling) selection of extras. Bedknobs and Broomsticks deserves a complement of new retrospectives and documentaries, I'd argue. But I suppose this'll do until the film's 45th anniversary.
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• Upcoming Disney Catalog Title Details Revealed - July 4, 2014
Walt Disney Home Entertainment has revealed further details about five of its upcoming catalog titles: Tarzan, Hercules, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, and Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers. All five Blu-ray releases ...
• Bedknobs and Broomsticks Blu-ray - May 14, 2014
Walt Disney Home Entertainment is set to release director Robert Stevenson's Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray this summer. The classic 1971 musical stars Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson, Roddy McDowall, Sam Jaffe, Bob Holt and Dal McKennon, and makes its Special ...
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