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13 Magical Facts About Bedknobs and Broomsticks

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Long before Angela Lansbury was the victim of magic as human-turned-teapot Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, she was performing magic as Miss Eglantine Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Here are 13 magical facts about the beloved Disney classic.

1. THE MOVIE WAS BASED ON TWO BOOKS BY MARY NORTON.

Rather than adapting a single book for the film, Disney took elements from two novels by Mary Norton: The Magic Bed-Knob and Bonfires and Broomsticks.

2. DISNEY WANTED JULIE ANDREWS FOR THE LEAD ROLE.

Because Mary Poppins had been a great success for Disney, they tried to get lightning to strike twice by asking Julie Andrews to star in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Like Mary Poppins, Bedknobs featured magic, music, animated segments, and even the same director (Robert Stevenson) and co-star (David Tomlinson, Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins). Afraid of being typecast, Andrews turned it down. When she changed her mind a few months later, Angela Lansbury had already signed on.

3. THE RIGHTS TO BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS WERE PURCHASED BEFORE MARY POPPINS.

Thanks to the movie Saving Mr. Banks, it’s now fairly well known that Walt Disney had a tough time negotiating movie rights with Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers. But he wasn’t too worried: He told the Sherman Brothers not to worry about not securing the rights to Mary Poppins because he would just use their songs in Bedknobs and Broomsticks instead. When Mary and the Banks kids finally got approval, Disney decided to push the “other” film about magic back several years because the two stories were similar.

4. ONE OF THE FILM'S SONGS WAS WRITTEN FOR MARY POPPINS.

Walt ended up being right about the songs being suitable for either movie: The Sherman Brothers actually repurposed one of their discarded songs from Mary Poppins for Bedknobs and Broomsticks. “The Beautiful Briny” would have been performed while Mary and the children sailed off in an adventure in Admiral Boom’s ship house.

5. WALT DISNEY FELL ASLEEP DURING THE SHERMAN BROTHERS’ SONG PRESENTATION.

When the famous songwriting duo originally pitched some of their tunes to the team early on, Walt was, well, not terribly engaged. According to Richard Sherman, “We were so carried away telling our story and singing loud, 'Eglantine, Eglantine, oh how you shine!,' showing how the phony guy, who finds this real witch who’s capable of doing magic, is so excited when he figured he’d make a fortune with her. This is the fun of the show, and Walt was sort of toddling off! He might have been tired that day.”

6. DESPITE HIS APPARENT DISINTEREST, DISNEY LIKED THE SONGS A LOT.

One of his favorites was “Substitutiary Locomotion.” “He loved that song,” Robert Sherman said. “He said, ‘That’s wonderful but we should do a little of that counter melody.’ We had done a few counterpoints and he loved the idea of that. So we came up with the actual magic words—Treguna, Mekoides, Trecorum, Satis, Dee—and put them with the verses we had already written.”

7. ANGELA LANSBURY REFERS TO IT AS “ACTING BY THE NUMBERS.”

Lansbury felt that shooting Bedknobs and Broomsticks was very scheduled and regimented. Each shot was determined strictly by what had been storyboarded for it, right down to every each expression the actors had on their faces.

8. LIKE EGLANTINE PRICE, LANSBURY WAS A WWII EVACUEE.

In fact, it may have affected 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.”

9. THE MOVIE WAS ORIGINALLY MUCH LONGER.

Disney wanted to present the movie at the New York City Hall Christmas show, but had to meet certain time constraints in order to be considered. As a result, the movie was cut substantially. Many songs got the axe, including one called “Nobody’s Problem,” sung once by the children and once by Eglantine.

“Unfortunately, both versions were totally and completely ripped out of the picture. I’ll never forget how miserable we felt,” Sherman said in 2009. “That was the heartbeat of the picture and they took it out. I still feel very pained about that. Now, they found one version of it, the reprise and did a restored version with a beautiful vocal by Eglantine. But it would have had twice the poignancy if you’d heard those three little war orphans singing 'Nobody’s Problem' early in picture. Then, you would have really cared about those kids. 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! You know what happened: they decided to obliterate the picture and they just sliced out songs, one after the other. So, for the first release version, we lost so much. It was so denuded of emotion that it was upsetting.”

10. THERE’S A HIDDEN MICKEY IN THE MOVIE.

If you look closely at the audience during the animated soccer match, you’ll find a familiar face: There’s a bear wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt.

11. YOU PROBABLY RECOGNIZE THE VOICE OF BEAR.

The animated bear who pulls Eglantine, Emelius, and the children out of the sea is voiced by Dal McKennon. McKennon was also the voice behind Gumby, Archie, and various small parts in Mary Poppins, Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp, and 101 Dalmatians. He’s also the guy who tells riders they’re about to enjoy “the wildest ride in the wilderness!” before they board Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney theme parks.

12. THE ENTIRE MOVIE WAS SHOT IN CALIFORNIA.

Despite the very British setting of the film, nearly the entire movie, including Portobello Road and the castle scenes, was shot at Disney Studios in Burbank, California. The only thing shot off-lot were some coastal scenes of the Nazi soldiers, which were shot at a nearby beach.

13. THE ACTUAL MAGICAL BEDKNOB IS STILL AROUND.

It’s now at the Walt Disney Archives, housed in a display case in their reading room. Other Bedknobs props at the Archives include the Isle of Naboombu book, Professor Emelius Browne’s suitcase, and Eglantine Price’s flying broom.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

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12 Brazzle-Dazzle Facts About Pete's Dragon
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Forty years ago, on November 3, 1977, Pete's Dragon was released in theaters across America. Though it was a box office disappointment at the time, it has since turned into a beloved classic for the generations of audiences who grew up with Pete and Elliott. In honor of its 40th anniversary, check out these brazzle-dazzle facts about the Disney classic.

1. ELLIOTT WAS VOICED BY VETERAN ACTOR CHARLIE CALLAS.

Charlie Callas was a comedian known for his rubbery face long before Jim Carrey was around.

2. IT WAS HELEN REDDY’S FIRST LEADING ROLE IN A FILM.

You’d assume that working with an invisible dragon would be pretty challenging for anyone, let alone someone new to the film industry, but Helen Reddy enjoyed the experience. “I only had one actual scene with the dragon," she explained, "and during rehearsals I worked with a latex model of his head so that I would be familiar with the dimensions during filming.”

3. REDDY’S BALLAD IN THE MOVIE WAS NOMINATED FOR AN OSCAR.

Reddy's "Candle on the Water" was nominated for Best Original Song. It lost to “You Light Up My Life.”

4. DON BLUTH SUPERVISED ELLIOTT'S ANIMATION.

The project notoriously called for a lot of overtime hours, and a couple of years after Pete's Dragon was released, animator Don Bluth left Disney. He went on to animate and direct The Secret of NIMH (1982), An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (1988), and All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989), among others.

5. CALIFORNIA DOUBLED FOR MAINE.

The movie may look like it takes place in Maine, but neither the cast nor crew went anywhere near the Pine Tree State. The landscape scenes were courtesy of Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch in Canyon Country, California, while the Passamaquoddy town square and wharf area was constructed on the Disney Burbank Studio lot, partly from an old Western set. Even the harbor was constructed on-set.

6. ACTOR SEAN MARSHALL HAD NO FORMAL ACTING BACKGROUND.

Despite this, he beat hundreds of kids who auditioned to play Pete. “I think Disney always went for kind of the natural,” he said.

7. MARSHALL BECAME AN ALL-AMERICAN POLE VAULTER IN COLLEGE. 


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He partially attributes his athletic success to his role in the film, saying that the training he went through for the part, especially ballet, made him more of an athlete.

8. THE LIGHTHOUSE BEACON COULD BE SEEN FOR MILES.

Nora and Lampie’s lighthouse was equipped with a real lighthouse lens and a wickstand that could create a beacon that was visible for 18 to 24 miles. Constructed on California's Morro Bay, Disney had to obtain permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to actually light the lamp. There were plans to eventually move the lighthouse to Disneyland, but it became too deteriorated.

9. MICKEY ROONEY AND RED BUTTONS DID SOME AD-LIBBING.

The scene where Mickey Rooney and Red Buttons drunkenly walk to the cave to see Elliott turned into a massive ad-lib session, with each comedian trying to outdo the other with pratfalls and slapstick. “The director said, ‘That was fantastic, but we can’t have a 20-minute scene where you two are just walking through the cave. We’ve got to re-shoot it,’” Marshall recalled.

10. IT WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT AT THE BOX OFFICE.

The film only made $18 million in the U.S., which was a real disappointment to Disney. The studio was hoping to experience the same level of success it had had with another movie that mixed live action and animation—Mary Poppins.

11. THE SODIUM VAPOR PROCESS WAS USED TO MIX ANIMATION AND LIVE ACTION SCENES.

Invented by Ub Iwerks, the co-creator of Mickey Mouse, the process involved using a camera with a prism installed that separated the sodium vapor lights from the rest of the color. This projected a yellow light onto the screen behind the actor, which could later be subtracted out, and any background could be added in its place.

12. THERE’S A GOOFY YELL TUCKED AWAY IN THE FILM.

It’s when Dr. Terminus (Jim Dale) accidentally sends himself flying via harpoon. Listen for it at 1:13 below.

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