Plot Details/Summary

This one is going to be a real longshot, I fear. I can really remember only one scene from the film or tv special, and not sure of the context of it. Anyway, here we go.

The film is some sort of children's movie with elements of fantasy. Might be a musical or a comedy in nature. I do seem to remember it being fairly light fare in any case. The part I remember best is that there is an adult male character who has a somewhat magical bucket of paint. As a kid, I was certain that the part was played by Dick Van Dyke. My first thought was either Mary Poppins or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. After doing some googling though, I don't think it's from either of them, and nothing else on his IMDB entry jumps out at me. So, it may not be Van Dyke in the part.

The scene in question involves several children and the adult male character being held somewhere. It might be the local jail, or it might be a reform school for the kids. In any case, the pail of magic paint saves the day. The man paints a door on the wall, and they are able to open it like a real door and make their escape. IIRC, there were a couple of other times in the film when the man was able to paint something magical and useful in the story.

Timeframe/Release Details

I saw this film or show on tv in the 1970s on "regular" tv (i.e. it wasn't a cable or pay channel thing). Pretty sure it was a weekend afternoon movie presentation. It was definitely in color, and probably came out in the 1960s or 70s. Might have been set in England. Unsure of the period setting of the film (modern, 19th century, etc.)

That's all I've got for this one. Truly sorry to be so vague, but I simply cannot recall anything else about the film.

  • Sounds vaguely like the mime artist sketches from the Kenny Everett television show.
    – mwarren
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 15:01
  • 1
    Makes me think of Wile E Coyote painting a tunnel entrance to catch Road Runner
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 20:24
  • 1
    It's not Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; I watched it for the first time a few days ago. Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 20:37
  • In Mary Poppins, Bert, Mary, and the kids jump into the fantasy world of some chalk drawings on the pavement. It's the number called "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".
    – Spencer
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 18:54
  • 3
    And I'm astonished that my phone's word suggestion list had "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".
    – Spencer
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 18:58

6 Answers 6


You gave some vague indications that it might not be Mary Poppins (1964) but you should reconsider that.

In Mary Poppins, there is a scene where Miss Poppins and the kids come across Bert (played by Dick Van Dyke) making chalk drawings on the pavement. The four of them jump into the fantasy world of one of the paintings.

Video thumbnail
Watch on YouTube

The movie jumps from a total live action into an extended animated sequence within the fantasy world of the drawings.

This mixed live-action and animated sequence, which includes the famous number "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" earned Cotton Warburton the Academy Award for Film Editing, and Peter Ellenshaw, Eustace Lycett, Hamilton Luske the Oscar for best Visual Effect.

(British readers who wish to view the videos should mute their speakers to avoid being triggered by Dick Van Dyke's atrocious attempt at a Cockney accent.)

  • +1 for the warning paragraph at the end!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 14 at 14:05

I might know what you’re talking about! And you might never see this after so many years, but I’ve gotta share.

I’ve wasted hours this afternoon after having a flash memory of someone painting an escape out of a room, and googling led me to this page with your question—- everything you said lined up exactly with what I remembered. Googling and trying to think of every kid movie I’ve ever watched led to nothing today. But while I was drifting off to sleep just now my brain wandered all the way to Peter Pan (1960).

In this magical tale about the boy who refuses to grow up, Peter Pan and his mischievous fairy sidekick Tinkerbell visit the nursery of Wendy, Michael, and John Darling.

It doesn’t look like the memory I had conjured up, and I would never have guessed this had my sleeping brain not supplied it, but I’m pretty sure this is the same as what you were looking for.

You can view the scene with the painted door at around the 44 minute mark in the video below.


I can't seem to track down any good details on this, but the 1971 Russian film Polchasa na chudesa (Полчаса на чудеса) was apparently released in English as Half Hour for Magic although I can find nothing online to support that.

Title image for *Polchasa na chudesa*

Children's tale about a boy who is given a magic paint brush with which he can do good things. He is chased by evil king's servants to undo things the boy does. Made for children.

Found with a search for movie "magic paint" site :imdb.com/title

  • IMDB describes that title as "informal literal English title"
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 15:00
  • Ah. That would explain why I couldn't find any other references. So, potentially even less likely. :)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 15:22

This is probably not the right answer, but I'm posting it as a partial answer for others looking for a similar film.

The Magic Brush and Ma Liang and his Magic Brush are a pair of Chinese stop-animated films about a magic paintbrush.

Image from *Magic Brush*

A young and kind peasant boy named Ma Liang helped a rich man to tend cattle. He liked drawing and drew pictures everywhere and had the greatest dream to be an artist. He works very hard to achieve this dream even though he doesn't own a paintbrush.

As Ma Liang gets ready for bed one night after looking at all his drawings, an elderly wizard-magician appears to him and says that he has earned a brush. He informs Ma Liang of the brush's great power and tells him to use it wisely. Before Ma Liang can thank him, the magician vanished. To test the power, Ma Liang uses the brush to paint a rooster. When he paints the last feather, the rooster comes to life and flies off. Realizing the power of the brush, Ma Liang vows to use it to help others and remembers the words of the wizard.

From that day on, Ma Liang used the paintbrush to help others with their needs or troubles. He paints a river which instantly becomes real wherein people can draw water from it to take to the field and save a lot of time and energy. Ma Liang later paints cows and water buffaloes which came to life, and farmers used these animals to till lands easily.

Many people knew about the magic paintbrush, one of which was a powerful mandarin, a government official, who pays a visit to Ma Liang and invites him to his home. Unknown to Ma Liang, the mandarin was a selfish and arrogant bad man who had an idea to steal the paintbrush and make a lot of money by turning things to life and keeping them. When Ma Liang refuses to heed the mandarin's commands to paint a pile of silver and gold coins for him due to his promise to the magician to use he brush wisely, he is imprisoned in a dungeon. There, his fellow prisoners reveal their innocence and their reason of being unjustly imprisoned; the mandarin wanted to seize their lands.

That night, after the prison guards and their captain were asleep, Ma Liang uses his magic brush to paint a door which later opens, allowing him and the other innocent people to escape silently. The guards awaken only to fail as Ma Liang painted a horse to escape quickly. Ma Liang goes into hiding and continues to use his magic brush to help people. He paints toys for children, paints a river and water wheel to irrigate farms, and more useful tools to ease people's work.

It's been adapted into several books, as well as at least one cartoon adaptation.

  • Obviously, this would not have been someone who sounded like Dick Van Dyke unless you got a dodgy dubbing, and it sounded like you were looking for a live-action film.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 14:14

I had to YouTube this movie because I remember more of jumping in and out of paintings and running from bandits than the movie The Peanut Butter Solution (1985) provided. However, I do remember this movie as well where a boy made a concoction of spiders and peanut butter, painted it on his bald head, and then magically his hair grew back. Which was the secret to making a magic paintbrush. You'll have to fast forward alot through the movie to get to the point where the old man had a bunch of kids in captivity. I hope this helps. I know what it is like to have a good memory that will take you through a rabbit hole 😉

The magic painting is done around 1:16:00

Animated image of the painting being made

Climbing into the magic painting

The art teacher at Michael's school, simply called the Signor, frightens children and forbids them from using their imagination. After getting fired from the school, the Signor finds out about Michael's condition and kidnaps him (and many other neighborhood children) to make magic paint brushes from Michael's ever-growing hair, in which he subdues Michael with a knockout drug. The kidnapped children are put to work under tough conditions ("We have to make 500 brushes a day, or we don't eat!"). The paintbrushes are so powerful that they paint whatever their user imagines without need for detail or neatness. Connie, and Michael's sister, Suzie, discover the Signor's magical paintbrush factory and try to rescue Michael and the other kids. Connie tries to use force, but he is overpowered by Signor and his dog James. Instead, Connie tricks the Signor into painting a picture of the abandoned mansion. Connie then dares him to investigate inside, leading "The Fright" to be passed on from Michael to the Signor. The Signor, now bald, escapes from the haunted house and chases the children, locking them up. Just as Connie is about to escape with Michael, Susan and their dad find the factory and the Signor is arrested by the local police.

Film Summary

  • Hi. You could improve this answer by specifying how minutes and/or hours into the film the relevant scene occurs. This would save anyone wanting to quickly check the scene for themselves the trouble of having to search through the film for it. Commented Feb 14 at 4:24

It could be The magical voice of Gelsomino, from 1977. The film is based on the book of Italian writer Gianni Rodari "Gelsomino in the Country of Liars".

Plot (wiki)

Wandering around the world, the young man ends up in the Land of Liars, where the pirates led by the chieftain Giacomone once seized power. In order to ensure the legitimacy of his gang's power, Giacomone introduces laws that oblige everyone to lie: instead of "good morning" - "good night", bread is called ink, prison - a boarding house, a mental hospital - a sanatorium, horses - cows; cats are forced to bark, and dogs - to meow; instead of real money, only counterfeit is in circulation. Even the artist is forced to lie in his work, drawing portraits of people with three noses, six eyes, and the like. At the same time, the king himself and his entourage do not obey the new laws and can say whatever they want. Accordingly, Giacomone's gang of pirates is called heroes, and the bald Giacomone - golden-haired.

The artist: enter image description here

Painting the door: enter image description here

Escape: enter image description here

Painting the weapons: enter image description here

Weapons become real: enter image description here

Full movie (YouTube)

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