Eglentine Price: Treguna, Makoidees, Trecorum, Sadis Dee.
When I was kid, I loved BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS. I watched it several times, always delighting in its more magical elements and its more musical moments but, as a child, I could never really grasp the more bizarre elements of this family fare. When I saw the Nazis invading at the time, I just identified them as generic bad guys and went on my merry little way and watched clothing come to life. As an adult, not only do I have a stronger understanding of the realism underlying this wholly unrealistic tale, but I also felt a purveying sense of family being found and formed that, for a 1971 film, is years ahead of its time.
Angela Lansbury plays Eglentine Price (Eglentine? Really?), an apprentice witch who has been learning her trade via correspondence classes from one Mr. Emelius Brown (David Tomlinson). Three children are placed in Mrs. Price’s care after being evacuated from the city to avoid being bombed and Nazis may even invade this tiny village because of its access by boat. Mrs. Price is doing her part for the war effort as well as she believes her magic education, once completed, will provide her with the ability to be of great service to her country. The problem is that she isn’t all that great at magic, she’s none too fond of children, and her correspondence school is a total crock. Mrs. Price is nothing if not determined though and before too long, she has taken the children under her wing, and strapped them to a bed that can fly through space, so that she can locate the final pieces of a puzzle that, once solved, will allow her to realize her full potential, supposedly.
Premise aside, BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS, still enchants more than 40 years later. The music, from the Sherman brothers, compliments the whimsy of the tale perfectly and grounds the film firmly when the tone is more severe. The special effects themselves, including the mixed animation and live action sequences, have held up incredibly well, proving that Disney has always been ahead of their time. The film will forever be seen as a lesser MARY POPPINS, but thanks to a brand new restoration, it can also continue to thrill generations for years to come.