A question yesterday gave me a flashback about a movie I saw a part of long ago, and I'm wondering if someone here could identify it for me. I seem to recall the colors striking me as technicolor, and the general style of the movie was old-timey. Also, there were a few musical scenes.

In the movie, a single mother of three-ish in modern world had taken a correspondence course in magic. Well, it turns out the man running the correspondence course was a huckster, which is a twist considering the spells had worked for the mother. The family had tracked this huckster down to get the last spell in the correspondence course, but it turns out that he didn't have the spell or at least the latter half of it. The only lead was that this latter half was inscribed on an amulet.

Apparently one of the spells that worked was to enchant a bed so that it could take you anywhere you want. The knob on one of the bedposts that made the bed move belonged to the youngest child, a daughter. The family and the huckster put this to good use since it turns out that a character in this daughter's favorite story book, an anthropomorphic lion that rules the book's fictitious realm, wears the amulet in question. So, they take the bed to the setting of the book.

The anthropomorphic animals of the fairytale realm appear as animated characters. The huckster is drafted as a referee to a soccer game which turns cartoonishly wacky. After the game, the live-action characters get the amulet off the king and make off with the king in hot pursuit, only to discover that fairytale objects can't be transported to the real world. At this point the daughter finally gets enough of a word in to point out that the amulet is depicted in one of the illustrations of the story book.

This spell's function is to animate (as in "make move of their own volition") inanimate objects. The mother does a musical number singing the spell (I seem to remember five words, ending in "stasis dee") at a handy object, I think it may have been a pair of shoes, and ends up animating pretty much everything in the apartment except that one object.

I have no recollection about what, if anything, happens next.

1 Answer 1


This is Bedknobs and Broomsticks, a 1971 Disney film that's set in England during the early days of WWII. Your recollection of it is remarkably accurate.

It stars Angela Lansbury (of later Murder, She Wrote fame) as the witch and David Tomlinson (better known as the father in Mary Poppins) as the huckster, professor Browne. She is not their mother, but she has three children, evacuated from London, assigned to stay with her. She buys their silence by casting a spell on the bed, allowing it to fly. It's controlled by the bedknob one of the children holds.

She uses the Substitutiary Locomotion spell, the one she finally found, to raise an army of medieval knights that fight off invading nazis. The words to it are

Treguna Mekoides and Trecorum Satis Dee

Here's the trailer:

And here's the Substitutiary Locomotion spell (and song)

  • 8
    Probably worth noting that Lansbury's character was not a mother -- she was a spinster (which may have been why the witch spells worked for her).
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 20:08
  • 6
    I have very fond memories of this film, having watched it many times as a child. I was always very sad when her workshop was blown up. The books are worth tracking down too, although the plotline is a bit different (Miss Price is already studying to be a witch. Emillius is a 17th century necromancer who only learned on the death of his master that he was being taught bunk).
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 20:13
  • 3
    @ZeissIkon - I always assumed that the spells worked for her because she actually practiced them instead of just copying them out of the book as nonsense words.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 22:11
  • 4
    I also enjoyed this movie as a child. I had forgottent that that "Portobello road" song came from here. Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 23:24
  • 3
    Incidentally, Lansbury was in the recent movie Mary Poppins Returns at the very end (she was handing out balloons). Comes full circle since she worked with Tomlinson on this movie.
    – Machavity
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 16:21

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