HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Bedknobs and Broomsticks
HTS Overall Score:78
Disney doesn’t dip too far into their live action catalog these days and I always relish the experience when they do so. “Mary Poppins” was one that was almost certain to be released, but “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” caught me by surprise, since it hasn’t been given a lot of love in recent years. Especially since it was just slipped in with the other 4 classics released today. With “Hercules” and “Tarzan” out of the way I believe “Aladdin” is the only major animated film yet to be released in the states, which leaves “101 Dalmations” on the live action side plus a whole plethora of classic Disney titles waiting to make the leap.
Once I got my hands on this classic I dove into it quickly. Fans of the film may notice that this is the 117 minute theatrical cut, and the extended cut of the film has been left out. This seems to have divided fans across the board as some really enjoyed the theatrical, while others felt the extended cut fleshed the story out a bit more. Myself personally, I only am sad that the extended cut is missing for those fans that wanted it as I find that it is a bit sloppy and unneeded. It does flesh out some of the story, but overdubbing with other peoples voices for the extended cut was so jarring that it makes it hard to watch it sometimes. From what I gather, the UV digital code that redeems though from the package actually IS the extended cut, so maybe that will allow for the best of both worlds.
It’s a time of war and sadness, as London is evacuating much of the children to the countryside in fear of German Luftwaffe bombing runs during WWII. Thus starts the adventure of three children, Carrie (Cindy O’Callaghan), Charlie (Ian Weighill), and Paul (Roy Snart). Sent to the countryside by their parents the three children are the last of the waifs sent out and the only person left in the small village to take them in is Miss Price (Angela Lansbury), who only takes them in as a temporary measure. It seems her reticence comes from the fact that she’s actually a witch, or rather an apprentice witch who is taking her lessons via correspondence from Brown school of witchcraft. Her deepest fears are realized when the three children discover her secret and something must be done about it. In exchange for keeping her little secret, she gives the children one of her spells, one that has been cast on a bedknob from the upstairs bed. This bedknob can now be used to travel anywhere in the world they so wish. As fate would have it, they need to use the bedknob fairly quickly as Miss Price receives notification that the Brown college of Witchcraft is closing down before she can receive the final lesson.
Using the bedknob to travel to the school’s location, Miss Price and the children come face to face with Mr. Emelius Brown (David Tomlinson) only to find out that the man is a fraud, a charlatan so to speak. A street magician of no magical powers, he was sending out his so called “lessons” to people who would pay the fee. Finding himself face to face with someone who actually USED his spells is enough to shock the poor man into a stupor. It seems that he had been sending out what he though was gibberish spells from an old book. A book that happened to be the spell book of an ancient warlock named Astoroth. Expecting to find the final spell in the book, Miss Price is shocked to find that the last few pages have been torn out. Desperate to find the last few pages, Miss Price, Emelius and the children go on an adventure to find those missing 5 words that are needed. This trek leads them across the path of an eclectic man seeking the same thing as well as a trip to the fantasy island talking animals that Astaroth had created in his folly.
“Bedknobs and Broomsticks” is a classic little animated romp that seems to have slipped through the cracks in modern viewings. It’s only 5 years later than “Mary Poppins” and carries over David Tomlinson as the lead once again, but still carries a charm and style all its own. Bringing back many a fond memory, the movie is just as charming today as it was 43 years ago for many others. Angela Lansbury is giggle worthy as the prim yet excitable little witch and David Tomlinson is about as giddy and carefree as the last 5 minutes of “Mary Poppins”. The crazed and slightly sneaky street magician is full of tricks and just as full of laughter as he livens up every scene that he’s in. The children are actually a bit on the bland side, and not as likeable as many other Disney children, but Angela and David more than make up for the experience.
Once upon a time “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” was one of Disney’s most well-known of the live action classics, and for good reasons. It had a rather large budget for the time and there was a lot work put into the picture. It also has one of the best choreographed dance scenes of Disney history during the marketplace search for the other half of the spell book. It may go on a bit longer than it should, but the choreography and skill of the dancers was unprecedented at the time and still is quite impressive. It’s not a perfect picture, and some of the voice acting is suspect for the animated world, but the charm of the two leads and singing and dancing bring it into a class all its own.
Rated G For General Audiences
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=24569[/img]Disney brings “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” to light on a rather pleasant 1.66:1 AVC transfer. I always worry about these old classics because Disney has a habit of scrubbing all appearance of grain from many of their catalog releases, but rest assured the grain is there intact. The closer you actually look you realize that they didn’t do much of anything at all to the transfer, as there are still some speckles and dirt on the cells that didn’t get restored. However, don’t take this as a bad thing for the majority of the picture looks exceptional. The blacks are deep and inky, with only a hint of crush in a few of the very darkest scenes, and fine detail being quite apparent. The only thing I noticed was that the trip into the animated world actually HAS been scrubbed a bit, not completely and horrifically, but just enough to lighten the texture of the grain. Lines are still intact and there appears to signs of jaggies or compression artifacts. Even the look VERY well replicated and rich. It may not be a 5 star restoration, but they left alone a good thing and let the natural look of the film shine through, for the most part.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=24577[/img]Disney’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is also equally pleasing to the ear as the video is to the eyes. Analyzing the track I have to admit it’s a bit on the front heavy side, for the surrounds are usually only utilized to much extent with the song numbers as well as some of the more rambunctious scenes. The dialogue is clean and clear, albeit it is a bit lower recorded than some of the ambient noises in the two mains. I only noticed a lit distortion hiss once or twice, but it was something you had to strain to hear and has been there even on the DVD. LFE has some nice whallop to it, and certainly adds some nice density to the film. Ambient details are replicated nice, especially in the hustle and bustle of street market where they go to find the other half of the spell book. Overall a very pleasing track.
• Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers
• Deleted & Extended Scenes
• David Tomlinson Recording Session
• The Wizards of Special Effects
• Theatrical Trailers
• Sing-Along With the Movie
• Disney Song Selection
It’s nice to go back and see one of Disney’s live action films get the Blu-ray treatment, even if the extended cut isn’t included for those who would wish it so. David Tomlinson is cheery as he even is and the whole experience just brings one back to their childhood viewings of this classic movie. Now we can only hope that Disney decides to delve into their deep pockets and pull out some more of those old live action classics (I would literally do about anything to see “Condorman” or “Viva Max” get an upgrade onto Blu-ray). With very nice audio and video I don’t see why you shouldn’t give this a pickup unless you really want the extended cut. Recommended.
Starring: Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson, Roddy McDowall
Directed by: Robert Stevenson
Written by: Ralph Wright, Ted Berman
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 117 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 12th 2014
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