Featured Blu-ray Review: Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Bedknobs and Broomsticks came out in 1971 and was part of the lowest point of Disney's box office numbers. For instance, this film cost $20 million to make at the time, which was no small amount, but it only pulled in $17.87 million. It is making its way onto Blu-ray this week, but is it worth picking up? Or was it part of the reason Disney was struggling for so long?
I previously reviewed this movie and there's not much more I need to say. For a quick recap, the film takes place in World War II. Angela Lansbury plays Eglantine Price, who lives in Northern England. At the beginning of the movie, she comes into town to pick up a package, but learns she has to take care of three siblings, Charlie, Carrie, and Paul, while the London Bombings are happening. This is terrible news, because Eglantine is a witch and she's trying to complete her training. She wants to use her training to defeat the Nazis, should they attack. Unfortunately, her professor, Emelius Browne, had to close the correspondence school before she could graduate. Worse still, when she goes to talk to him about getting the last spell she needs, she learns he isn't a witch and is a street magician and a con artist. The previous spells he sent worked not because he has power, but because he found a powerful spell book. The last spell in that book is missing, so the five of them have to travel to another dimension and get it.
At the time Bedknobs and Broomsticks was released, there were simply too many comparison to Mary Poppins, and it is easy to see why. Both feature kids who discover their female guardian has magical powers. Both feature a male sidekick who is less magical. Both even include scenes where they travel to an animated world. I don't think I will shock many people when I say this film isn't as good as Mary Poppins is. That said, it is still pretty good. It is much more entertaining than most kids movies are and while it is not as memorable as some of the Disney classics, it is still worth checking out.
Nearly all of the extras are from the previous DVD releases, including Music Magic, which is a 21-minute featurette on Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman and the songs they created for the movie. There are sections for deleted / extended songs and deleted / extended scenes. Strangely, most of these were used in the reconstruction version that was used for the DVD, but there are only here as extras. There is a minute-long look at David Tomlinson recording a bit of "Portobello Road". You can pick a song to hear with Song Selection. Finally, Jennifer Stone hosts an 8-minute featurette on special effects.
The technical presentation is good, but not great. The movie is more than 40 years old and is showing its age, as a few of the shots are a little soft. Then again, it is a step up from the DVD and the level of details is good and the colors are likewise strong. The film was originally shot in mono but was upgraded to a 5.1 surround sound track, which is well done. The dialogue is always clear and there is good separation. It is not the most active track, but still a good conversion.
The Blu-ray costs $20, which is on the high end for a catalog release, but on par with other Disney Blu-rays.
Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-08-09