Movie Name: Mary Poppins
Studio: Walt Disney Productions
Release Date(s): August 27, 1964
MPAA Rating: G
Jane Banks (Karen Dotrice) and Michael Banks (Matthew Garber) find their father (David Tomlinson) is too busy working at the bank and their mother (Glynis Johns) is driven by issues like women’s sufferage. When their request for a perfect nanny falls on deaf ears, their note manages to find its way to Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews). Mary has a way of changing the perspectives of people, and with the help of her friend Bert (Dick Van Dyke), Mary Poppins could change the lives of the Banks in ways they never imagined.
Directed by Robert Stevenson, Mary Poppins adapts the stories of P. L. Travers which first appeared in 1934. The film was critically acclaimed and a fan favorite. It was nominated for thirteen Oscars including Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Scoring, Best Sound, and Best Adapted Screenplay were lost (mostly to Best Picture winner My Fair Lady), and Mary Poppins won Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Original Song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”), Best Substantial Original Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Visual Effects. It was selected for preservation in the National Film Archive by the Library of Congress in 2013.
Mary Poppins is perfect. The story is fun and has a lot of spirit. It feels episodic, but it still manages to carry on an overall themes. The attempts of Disney to bring Mary Poppins to the screen were difficult with Travers objecting to the “Disney-fication” of her character and the story (which was chronicled in Saving Mr. Banks). Despite Travers complaints, Disney made magic with Mary Poppins that you could argue resulted in one of his best films.
The cast’s great chemistry and the snappy songs are set in a great looking world. Everyone wants to live on Cherry Tree Lane (despite the constant explosions of Admiral Boom). You want to climb the rooftops of London with Bert and feed the pigeons outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral with the old woman. You want Mary to be your nanny and take you for adventures inside the animated world of chalk drawings and to take tea on top of the ceiling with Uncle Albert…It is a magical world.
Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke work great together. They seem to play off each other and feel like a real couple (despite not even being a “real couple” in the movie). Dick Van Dyke also plays a duel role in the film as the evil Dr. Dawes Sr. (credited as an anagram Navckid Keyd). Julie Andrews was actually was supposed to be Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, but then was replaced by Audrey Hepburn…Andrews got the last laugh by beating Audrey Hepburn for Best Actress. Van Dyke and Andrews are backed up by a great cast of supporting character actors (and many Disney favorites) like Dave Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Karen Dotrice, and Matthew Garber as the Banks family, Reginald Owen as Admiral Boom, the former Bride of Frankenstein Elsa Lanchester as the previous nanny, Jane Darwell as the pigeon lady, and Ed Wynn as Uncle Albert. The cast helps bring the movie together and raises it from a simple kids’ film to something more.
The music like many of Disney’s musical films is great. The songs are catchy and range from face pace (“Step in Time”), to peppy (“A Spoonful of Sugar”), to clever (“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”) and to sentimental (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”). There are songs for everyone, and they are easy to remember and recite.
Mary Poppins says it herself; she’s practically perfect in every way. Mary Poppins is one of Disney’s best films (animated or live-action). It is also the first film I can remember seeing in the theater. I was amazed by the movie and at the time (late ’70s) by the special effects, and I think it can be credited for helping me love movies. Mary Poppins can still be enjoyed by all and shouldn’t be missed.