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DVD Review: Bedknobs and Broomsticks – Enchanted Musical Edition

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Written by Senora Bicho

Disney had been working on Mary Poppins for two years when it was put on hold waiting for final approval by the book’s author P. L. Travers. In the meantime Walt found another book, Mary's Norton's Bedknobs and Boomsticks, which featured a magical lady caring for children. He brought this to the his creative team so they could start putting together the story and songs, but Mary Poppins was then approved and Bedknobs was put on the shelf for several years. The go-ahead finally came in 1969 and it was released in 1971. While the movie was not as popular and is not as well known as Mary Poppins, it did win the Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects and is still impressive today.

It is 1940 and England is fighting World War II. Young Charlie, Carrie, and Paul are forced to move from London to a small village. Miss Price (Angela Lansbury) lives alone and is asked to take them in. The children soon discover that she is an apprentice witch. In order to keep them from telling her secret, she gives them an enchanted bedknob that when re-attached to the bedpost will take them anywhere they want. Miss Price is nearing the end of her witchcraft correspondence course when she learns that the school has been shutdown before receiving the last spell. She believes that she can use this last spell to help England win, so she talks the children into letting her use the bed to find Professor Emelius Browne (David Tomlinson), the headmaster of the school. It is from here that their adventures begin and even includes a visit to the animated Isle of Naboombu.

There are several bonus features included in the DVD collection. “This Wizards of Special Effects” explains how the special effects were done and is hosted by Jennifer Stone from Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place. “Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers” explores the music in the film. Interestingly, the film’s best song, “The Beautiful Briny,” was actually written for Mary Poppins. “A Step in the Right Direction” is a reconstruction of one of the songs that was cut from the film. Several songs ended up on the cutting room floor to keep the running time under two hours. Most of the songs were put back in the 25th anniversary edition, but the picture portion for this song has never been found. There is also a recording session of “Portobello Road” by David Tomlinson.

Bedknobs and Boomsticks doesn’t have as strong of a story or soundtrack as Mary Poppins. The Enchanted Musical Edition contains an extended version of “Portobello Road” and includes several songs I had never seen before. At just a little over two hours, this extended version may be too long and boring for younger viewers. I even got bored at times.

There are several moments that contain terrible audio. At times, it is clearly obvious the voices were recorded later, not even matching the original actors in some segments. The sequences where the live-action blends with animation still looks good and the visit to Naboombu is the highlight of the movie.

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