I’ve learned that today is Angela Lansbury Appreciation Day. I appreciate Angela Lansbury every day but since she taught me about lesbian witches, I shall offer a brief comment on the first lesbian witch to win my heart: Ms. Price.
The obvious must be stated: Ms. Price is a lesbian and Bedknobs and Broomsticks can be read as a queer film that situates lesbian resistance within fascist-occupied Europe. Sapphic metaphors of pussies, spells, bedknobs, and broomsticks abound in what should be understood as a story about the Sapphic spinster dabbling in witchcraft, who, through her intellect, conjures an affront and resistance against fascism: and wins! Love wins.
Due to the homophobia of its original audience, the bookish spinster ends up married to the uncharismatic, impotent, homosexual Emilius Browne in order to be able to adopt the orphans she has come to love: this is a device that Disney uses to keep Ms. Price and the film within the false comfort zone of the heterosexual delusion.
Professor Emilius is a necessary device, a cover, that allows for the story of the Sapphic power of a perfectly capable spinster living alone with her cat and three orphans to be told. The necessary inclusion of the hetero cover is a product of heteronormativity. But the truth, which courses through the film genuinely and renders absurd the “love story” farce, is that Ms. Price is a child, herself, wild with a Sapphic imagination that sends her flying through the clouds and to the bottom of the beautiful, briny sea. The film is Camp Central: the campy, fabulous queer quality of Ms. Price and the world she has built comes to hilarious life against the drab, gray fascist backdrop of the film. Ms. Price’s parody of a resistance against the very real danger of fascism is what is precious about the film, in which fascism is mocked much in the way that it is mocked in productions like Cabaret (Don’t Tell Mama) and The Producers (Springtime for Hitler).
Spinster with a cat. Witch. Hugs her broom. Dances with nightgowns. Leads ghost resistance against fascists. Thrown in jail. TOTAL LESBIAN. All of the evidence is there.
Disney could not have pulled off an overtly Sapphic version in 1971, but it’s 2018, and it’s time that Ms. Price’s lesbianism be acknowledged.
Called Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Stars Spinster Witch with Cat (played by the brilliant Lansbury). You do the lesbian math.
Head witch’s idea of fun: spending time alone with her pussy trying to ride a broom.
Loathes all things vertical. Prefers the horizontal. Reveres the broom.
Shows far more excitement while holding a broom than she ever does interacting with a man.
Knows that riding a broom can be a wild, wilde ride, and wants to do it over and over.
Loves kids secretly but can’t let anyone in on the secret at first. Practitioner of alternative conception: she conceives kids in an alternative manner (she picks them up when she picks up her broom and takes them all home on her four-seated motorcar, pretending to be grim and grumpy). She puts the kids to bed and then she goes off with her cat to play with her broom. Ends up flying and then crashing into a bush. Is discovered by the kids.
Tries to manage the situation by assuming a position at the head of the table and turning the kid into a rabbit, but that only makes things gayer and gayer.
You know that look when you’re a lesbian spinster witch and some little punk finds you out… ! Yep, Ms. Price knows that look. 😉
Decides to just tell the truth, but only to her kids. They rub bedknobs together, perform an enchantment, and make a bed fly.
Things get a little out of hand. Electric eels start dancing together inappropriately, signifying lesbian desire, like everything else.
Then the nightgown lady of the closet comes to life, and she will not be deterred!
“That’s my nightgown…and I’m not responsible for its behaviour.” – Ms. Price
Lesbian denial purrsonified. But that fails.
Nightgown gets pissed (how could you deny me? I’m your nightgown!), whole closet goes berserk, and wardrobe comes to life, staging a lesbian uprising – which Ms. Price eventually uses to stage her own lesbian uprising against fascism. Ain’t learning grand? (She’s self-taught.)
Ms. Price loses all control of her closet (aka ‘when ya been in the closet for too long and ya wardrobe stages an uprising…’)
And she ends up liking the whole Nightgown Renaissance thing.
The unspoken Sapphic conversation speaks loud and clear. Someone is ready to let Cloris out of the Closet. Finally!
There is always hell to pay for letting Cloris out of the closet, Ms. Price learns.
Gets caught having a little too much fun with her wardrobe. Fascists invade her underground Sapphic domicile, and she is imprisoned.
“No, Fraulein, this is not the invasion, just a little exercise…” Fraulein Price will have to think very hard to conjure her way out of a mess like this.
Things really fall apart for a while there but the uprising of the Sapphic soul wins. Ms. Price conjures a non-violent army of bewitched knights to scare the living daylights out of the fascist forces.
Finally owns her lesbian identity and learns to successful fly a broom, conjuring her way out of totalitarianism, and leading the Lesbian Resistance against the Nazis– defeating them once and for all.
If you want to be a lesbian witch and to defeat a fascist regime by channeling Sapphic energy, like Ms. Price, just follow her lead. It’s 2018, get on ya broom and find your Clorilius!