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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Movie #19: Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

"Filigree, apogee, pedigree, perigee! "

Day 13 of the countdown. Scary. Here is our first film that's recommended by 4 out of the 15 lists surveyed. We're getting to some really good stuff here.

Let's celebrate Angela Lansbury's 85th birthday (October 16) by watching this classic movie today!


  • Rating: G

  • Minimum Recommended Age: 5.33 (Common Sense Media: "On for ages 7 and up", Movie Mom: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade, Kaboose: Ages 4 and up)

  • Quality Rating: 72.67% (Parent Previews Overall Grade: B, Common Sense Media: 4 stars, Rotten Tomatoes rating: 6)

  • Number of Lists Recommend: 4

  • Sex/Violence/Profanity: Several scenes of cartoon violence during a wildly physical soccer match, as well as one real-life scene where the group is threatened with a knife. The final battle scene, where a ghost-like army of knights fights machine-gun wielding Nazis, might be very scary for some kids. One or two uses of 'damn', the older boy tells his siblings to "shut up."

  • Main Child Character Age: Charlie is "11 going on 12"

  • Running Time: 139 minutes

  • What does it have to do with Halloween? Nothing


An inexperienced witch''s adventures take her and her children from WWII England to a mythical land where jungle animals rule--all via an enchanted flying bed.

Watch Out For

Common Sense Media:
The final battle scene, where a ghost-like army of knights fights machine-gun wielding Nazis, might be very scary for some kids.

The framework of the movie -- World War II, Nazi invasions, and bombings in London -- is about as un-child-friendly as it gets, but the film manages to take a lighthearted approach.

The climax of the film involves a drawn-out battle between the main character and a small group of invading Nazis in which the enemy soldiers wield swords and machine guns against her. Despite this apparent violence, no blood is shed, no one is hurt, and the main character retains a smile throughout the entire battle.

Mild prejudice against Germans around the time of WW2 may offend some viewers. However, this is very unlikely. Nothing unsuitable for children considering this movie is aimed at a family audience.

Movie Mom:
The movie is long and episodic, and so lends itself well to viewing in shorter segments for restless younger children.

Parent Previews:
While the sorcery is used for positive reasons in this film, some parents may still want to consider the depictions of witchcraft and war before showing this classic to their younger children.

Talk About It

Common Sense Media:
* Families can talk about the difference between fantasy and reality, since it may not be clear to many kids.
* Talk about magic. What kind of magic do you wish you could perform and why?
* Families can talk about what makes a movie scary besides the story. How does the music or the lighting make you feel?
* Families can talk about language and accents. Did you find it difficult to understand the British accents? What other kinds of accents are you familiar with?

Parent Previews:
In what other ways does war impact families and children?

How do the special effects in this film compare with those of today?

What does Miss Price discover about her ability to perform witchcraft?

Also See

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Mary Poppins; the Harry Potter films; Hocus Pocus; The Wizard of Oz

Of Note

  • Julie Andrews, Leslie Caron, Lynn Redgrave, and Judy Carne were considered for the role of Miss Price before Angela Lansbury was cast.
  • GOOFY HOLLER: heard during the soccer game when the king kicks the hyena.
  • The film received five Academy Award nominations and won one for Best Visual Effects
  • It is based upon the books The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and Bonfires and Broomsticks by Mary Norton


Watch It


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