Bedknobs and Broomsticks / Bedknobs and Broomsticks
“Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (original title: Bedknobs and Broomsticks) is a 1971 American fantasy musical film directed by Robert Stevenson. Enriched by the melodies of the Sherman brothers and produced by Bill Walsh for Walt Disney Productions, the film has become a timeless classic. Based on the books “The Magic Bedknob” and “Bonfires and Broomsticks” by Mary Norton, the film blends live action and animation, creating an enchanted world that has captured the imagination of generations of moviegoers.
A cast of great talent
The film boasts outstanding performances from Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson, Ian Weighill, Cindy O'Callaghan and Roy Snart. Their performances brought unforgettable characters to life, bringing the magic of storytelling directly to the screen.
Development and Production
Development of “Knobs and Broomsticks” began in the early 60s, but the project was delayed due to similarities to “Mary Poppins.” After being sidelined for a time, the film revived in 1969. Originally 139 minutes long, it was cut to nearly two hours before its premiere at Radio City Music Hall.
Reception and Criticism
Released on December 13, 1971, the film received mixed reviews. While some critics praised the mixed live-action and animation sequences, others were more critical. The film earned five nominations at the Academy Awards, winning the award for Best Special Visual Effects.
Historical Importance and Restoration
This was the last film released before Roy O. Disney's death, and Reginald Owen's last film appearance. It was also Don DaGradi's last screenplay work. In 1996, the film was restored, reincorporating much of the previously deleted material.
In 1996, the film was restored, reincorporating much of the previously deleted material. It has also been adapted into a stage musical, with the world premiere at the Theater Royal in Newcastle upon Tyne in August 2021, followed by a tour of the UK and Ireland.
“Knobs and Broomsticks” is a fascinating adventure that combines music, magic and storytelling. With its captivating plot, memorable characters and technical innovations, the film continues to be a point of reference for film fans of all ages.
History of “Knobs and Broomsticks”
In August 1940, during the dark days of the Second World War, the British government decides to evacuate children from the bombed areas of London to protect them. In this context, Paul, Carrie and Charlie, three brothers, are entrusted to Miss Eglantine Price, a woman who lives near the village of Pepperinge Eye. Initially frightened by the old woman's temper, the children try to escape from her, but stop when they see her flying on a broomstick.
Miss Price's Secret
Miss Price reveals to the children that she is an apprentice witch and is taking a correspondence course in witchcraft. Awaiting her final lesson, the one that will teach her a spell to animate inanimate objects, she makes a pact with the children: in exchange for their silence about her secret, she will involve them in her magical adventures.
The Search for the Last Lesson
When Miss Price receives a letter announcing the end of the course without the last lesson, she decides to use a magical brass knob to travel to London with the children and meet the headmaster of the school of witchcraft, Mr. Emelius Browne. They discover that Browne is a charlatan who copied spells from an old book, now divided into two parts.
The Journey to Naboombu
Determined to find the second half of the book, the group goes to the Portobello Road market, where they discover that the missing part is about a magical island ruled by talking animals: Naboombu. Using the brass knob and the flying bed, they reach the island, where they experience extraordinary adventures, including a football match with talking animals, and manage to steal the magical talisman from the island's king.
Return to Peppering Eye and the confrontation with the Nazis
Returning to Pepperinge Eye, they discover that the talisman did not resist the passage between the two worlds. During the night, a group of Nazi soldiers lands on the English coast and takes Miss Price, the children and Mr. Browne hostage, locking them in the town's castle-museum.
The Unexpected Hero and the Final Battle
Emelius, transformed into a rabbit to escape, joins the group and together they convince Miss Price to use Astoroth's final spell. An army of animated armor drives the German soldiers back into the sea. However, during the conflict, Miss Price's laboratory is destroyed and with it all the spells. Miss Price decides to give up witchcraft.
The End of Adventures and an Uncertain Future
Despite the end of their magical adventures, Paul, Carrie and Charlie decide to stay with Miss Price. Mr. Browne leaves with the army, promising to return. The story ends with a sense of hope mixed with melancholy, as magic has given way to reality, but friendship and courage remain.
Original title: Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Country of Production: United Kingdom, United States of America
- Original Version: 117 min
- Abridged version: 96 min
- Extended Version: 139 min
Gender: Fantasy, Musical, Animation, Comedy
Regia: Robert Stevenson
Subject: Mary Norton
Film script: Bill Walsh, Don DaGradi
Producer: Bill Walsh
Production House: Walt Disney Productions
Distribution in Italian: CIC
Photography: Frank Phillips
Editor: Cotton Warburton
Special effects: Alan Maley, Eustace Lycett, Danny Lee
Music: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, Irwin Kostal
scenography: John B. Mansbridge, Peter Ellenshaw
- Decorators: Emile Kuri, Hal Gausman
Beachwear: Bill Thomas, Shelby Anderson, Chuck Keehne, Emily Sundby
Interpreters and Characters:
- Angela LansburyEglantine Price
- David TomlinsonEmelius Browne
- Ian Weighill: Charlie Rawlins
- Roy Snart: Paul Rawlins
- Cindy O'Callaghan: Carrie Rawlins
- Roddy McDowall as Rowan Jelk
- Sam Jaffe: Bookseller
- Bruce Forsyth: Swinburne
- John Ericson: Colonel Heller
- Reginald Owen: Sir Brian Teagler
Italian voice actors:
- Lydia Simoneschi: Eglantine Price (dialogue)
- Gianna Spagnulo: Eglantine Price (singing)
- Giuseppe Rinaldi: Emelius Browne (dialogues)
- Tony De Falco: Emelius Browne (singing)
- Loris Loddi: Charlie Rawlins
- Riccardo Rossi: Paul Rawlins
- Emanuela Rossi: Carrie Rawlins
- Massimo Turci: Rowan Jelk
- Bruno Persa: Bookseller
- Gianni Marzocchi: Colonel Heller
- Arturo Dominici: Swinburne