10 Magical Facts About “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”

Before Angela Lansbury was trapped under a spell in the beast’s castle as Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, she was performing magic as Miss Eglantine Price in the classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

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Released in 1971, generations of kids would see this movie as it stood the test of time.

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If you were swept away in this beloved childhood Disney movie, you will appreciate these magical facts that will take you back in time.

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1. The movie was based on two books written by Mary Norton

Rather than just drawing from a single book for the film, Disney took elements from two novels written by Mary Norton. Unsurprisingly they were titled: The Magic Bed-Knob and Bonfires and Broomsticks.

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2. Disney wanted Julie Andrews for the lead role

Since Mary Poppins had been such a great success for Disney, they wanted Julie Andrews to star in Bedknobs and Broomsticks as well. Since the two movies were similar, Andrews was concerned about being type-casted and turned down the role. She later changed her mind, but it was too late because Angela Lansbury had already signed on.

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3. Bedknobs and Broomsticks was pushed back because of Mary Poppins

Walt Disney had secured the rights to Bedknobs and Broomsticks before Mary Poppins. Disney had trouble negotiating for the movie rights of Mary Poppins with author P.L. Travers. Once approval finally came in, Disney decided to push the “other” film about magic back several years because the two stories were so similar.

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4. One of the musical numbers was meant for Mary Poppins

With both movies ready to go, Disney swapping “The Beautiful Briny”. The song was originally meant for the scene in Mary Poppins where Mary and the children sailed off in an adventure for adventure in Admiral Boom’s ship house. Instead it was re-purposed and used in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

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5. Shooting the movie was very rigid for the actors

Angela Lansbury actually referred to it as “acting by numbers” because each shot was strictly based on what was on the storyboard. Every word they said and even the expressions on their faces had to exact.

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6. Angela Lansbury was a WWII Evacuee

World War II may have effected her entire career. “The story reminded me of my teens,” Lansbury told D23. “Like Miss Price, I was in England when World War II broke out. My mother gave me a choice of being evacuated from London to a boarding school in the country or studying acting at home. I chose the latter without hesitation.”

7. The movie was originally a lot longer

Disney wanted to present the movie at the New York City Hall Christmas show, but it had to meet certain criteria to be considered. That resulted in the movie being cut substantially. Many songs were taken out including one called “Nobody’s Problem,” sung by the children.

“That was the heartbeat of the picture and they took it out. I still feel very pained about that.,” Richard Sherman said. “It was a very, very, very important song. Here I am, going off on a rant on that, 40 years later; but we put our lives into this picture, we truly did—we put our sweat, our blood, our dreams in it and they just sliced it out!”

8. There’s a familiar face appearing as a cameo

If you look closely at the audience during the animated soccer game, you’ll see a familiar face. Hint, there’s a bear wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt. You will also notice a Goofy holler during the game when the king kicks the hyena.

9. The actual magical bedknob is still around

If you visit the Walt Disney Archives, you can find it housed in a display case in the reading room. Other props from the movies at the Archives includes the Isle of Naboombu book, Professor Emelius Browne’s suitcase and Eglantine Price’s flying broom.

10. Award-worthy

This was the last Disney movie to receive an Academy Award until The Little Mermaid in 1989, though a few received nominations.

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Mental Floss

What was your favorite part of the movie? Share with us in the comments.

Source: Mental Floss / IMDB

Emma C
Freelance Writer