Aug 22, 2021

Disney Witchcraft In The Rain

Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Mahoning Drive-In - Lehighton, PA
One of the things that the Mahoning is especially proud of is the fact that they're the only theater in the United States that is currently showing 35mm prints of Disney films from their vault.  That really is pretty impressive when you think about it.  They went from being on the verge of closing when Hollywood switched to an all-digital format to having a relationship with Disney that inspired them to open their vaults and send films (some of which hadn't been shown theatrically in decades) to be shown on their screen.

Hurricane Henri was making its way up the east coast.  We didn't get hit with any damaging weather in our part of Pennsylvania, but we did get a lot of rain.  In fact, it rained steadily from the time we left the house until we got home and went to sleep.

Given the choice, I would rather a clear day where we can set up the lawn chairs outside, but there's something nice about relaxing under a warm blanket with a bucket of popcorn in the car at a drive-in.  It's not unlike the feeling of sitting by a fireplace during a snowstorm.  It may be wet and chilly out there, but it's cozy and dry in the car, and the folks in the projection booth at the Mahoning are going to deliver an awesome show no matter what the circumstances.

I'm not generally the biggest fan of Disney's classic animated films - I don't love them, but I don't dislike them either.  However, I do enjoy their live action family films from the 60's, 70's and 80's quite a bit.  There's just something innocent and charming about them, and I haven't seen very many of them when I was growing up, so it's been like a little treasure trove that I've been unpacking for the past few years.  Bedknobs and Broomsticks is the most recent of these discoveries.  What I didn't realize until it was mentioned in the pre-show announcements is that this year is the 50th anniversary of the film.  

Bedknobs and Broomsticks stars Angela Lansbury, who I will always know best as Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote.  She was 46 years old when this movie was first released to theaters on December 13th, 1971.  If you want to see a stunning resume for a professional actor or actress, look no further than Ms. Lansbury.  She earned Oscar nominations for her first two films in the mid 40's (she is presently the earliest surviving Academy Award nominee) and has worked consistently through eight decades.  Her latest completed major film on IMDB is Mary Poppins Returns, in which she appeared at the age of 92, with an additional credit for a film that's still in pre-production called The Adventures Of Buddy Thunder.

Her co-stars in Bedknobs and Broomsticks are David Tomlinson, who plays the main antagonist in The Love Bug, and three child actors: Ian Weighill, Cindy O'Callaghan, and Roy Snart.

The story takes place in 1940 England during the Second World War.  The three children are siblings who have been evacuated from London and are being looked after by a woman (Lansbury) who is secretly taking a correspondence course through the mail to learn to become a witch.  When the school unexpectedly shuts down, she and the children set out in search of the school headmaster (Tomlinson) to obtain the final spell in the course.  To do so, they travel on a bed with a magically enchanted bedknob that allows it to both fly and teleport.

It's a very sweet story and a nice escape from the craziness going on in the world today, and I'm glad that I got to see it at the Mahoning Drive-in.