Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) is a thrilling film, featuring groundbreaking animation and special effects, as well as a lovable cast of characters. One of the film’s dashing thespians the Disney fan community has come to embrace over the years is David Tomlinson, perhaps known best for his performance as Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins. In Bedknobs, David plays the affable swindler, Emelius Brown—master “teacher” of magic and witchcraft, extraordinaire!
It’s an iconic performance, one many Disney fans warmly remember.
During David’s introduction in the film, he uses a small briefcase that pops up into a colorful magician’s cart to woo onlookers while peddling his wares on Portobello Road. It’s an iconic performance, one many Disney fans warmly remember. Thankfully, Emelius’ magician’s cart is safely stored in the Walt Disney Archives.
While inspecting the film-used magician’s cart for display, Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives, noticed a small, yellow, crumpled-up piece of paper in the bottom of the cart’s surprisingly cavernous opening. Upon further inspection, this piece was not garbage or misplaced production ephemera.
It was scrawled with dialogue: the blocking notes for one of Emelius’ ploys!
David Tomlinson’s actor’s notes had remained in the case many years after production wrapped—helping to clue our archivists into the intensely personal and creative mind of a Disney Legend. The find was a welcome surprise, one that helps us understand the actor’s motivations and thoughts while giving a memorable performance.