Based on the book by based on the book by Mary Norton (also the author of The Borrowers,” Bedknobs and Broomsticks is the story of three Cockney children evacuated from London during WWII, who are placed with Miss Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury), though she is reluctant to take them and insists it can only be temporary.
Miss Price is completing a correspondence course in witchcraft and has reached the level of “apprentice witch,” permitting her to fly on a broomstick. When she takes it out for a spin, the children see her, and, threatening to expose her, persuade her to let them into the magic. She then enchants the bedknob so that when it is twisted, it will take them wherever they want to go. When she receives word that the correspondence course has been canceled, she and the children go off together in search of the teacher, Professor Brown (David Tomlinson). He joins them, as they travel on the bed, first undersea and then to an island in another dimension, where the inhabitants are talking animals. On the island, they find the necklace containing the secret magic words they need for a spell to make intimate objects behave as though they were alive. Home again, they use that spell to fight off Nazi invaders. Afterward, Miss Price retires from witchcraft and Professor Brown joins the army, but it is clear they have become a family.
Many of the people behind “Mary Poppins” worked on this movie. While it does not have the same magic as “Mary Poppins,” there are some delightful moments, especially as Miss Price struggles to master basic witchcraft skills. The animated scenes on the island are done with a great deal of verve and imagination, especially the fast-moving slapstick of a soccer game featuring animal athletes, including an ostrich who sticks his head into the field whenever trouble approaches. The movie is long and episodic, and so lends itself well to viewing in shorter segments for restless younger children.