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Mary Poppins (1964)

2009-05-29 16:23
Mary Poppins

When Julie Andrews decided to take on the role of Mary Poppins, never did she think that she’d walk away with an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Much like the viewer's reward after spending a couple of happy hours being enchanted by these characters.

The storyline is simple but magical and, years later after seeing it as a child, you're probably still able to sing “and a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down” with a satisfied smile on your face. In many ways, Marry Poppins was ahead of its time. The movie combines ambitious musical numbers, warm, inviting colours and sequences of live action and animation to create a world of wonder and magic. What kid, whether grown-up or freshly hatched, is immune to it?

Mary Poppins is the super-nanny we all wish we had. She’s certainly no Nanny McPhee and has boundless charm. Nanny McPhee uses magic, Mary Poppins uses a bit of everything.

It’s 1910 and London is a happy, merry place to be a child. The Banks, a very proper English family is in a bit of a fuss over their nanny problem – in that the spoiled Banks children can't seem to hold onto one . Having put up with a whole series of nannies, the two Banks youngsters, Jane and Michael, compose a wanted ad listing all the qualifications their ideal nanny would require. She must have a cheery disposition, rosy cheeks and play games. That’s quite a tall order, considering that the infamous saying "Children should be seen and not heard" was only recently repudiated. So who can blame them for dreaming of better days when they've been raised by sour, joyless old hags who treat children like minions?

But Mr. Banks will hear nothing of a rosy-cheeked nanny. He tears up the children's ad and submits his own, which naturally draws a queue of very disgruntled-looking  applicants.

One, two, three… and in over the rooftop sails Mary Poppins – the perfect embodiment of happiness. Now that’s pure cinematic magic, no hi-tech CGI required. Despite being passed up on the chance of starring in My Fair Lady, Julie Andrews epitomises class and proves that it is something you are born with, as it's a quality that's been evident in nearly every character she's played then and since. She truly is "practically perfect in every way".

Mary Poppins has all the bells and whistles that mark a true Walt Disney classic. The sets are lavish, the songs enthralling and everlasting, the characters witty and unforgettable.

And what makes this movie even more special is the amazing cast. Those cute Banks kids, played by Karin Dotrice and the late Matthew Garber, are just too adorable to forget. While Dick van Dyke's, shall we say, dodgy attempt at Cockney has received lots of flack over the years, he's nonetheless quite handy as Bert, the mild-mannered chimney sweep. Whether he's fooling about with a comical foursome of penguins or leading the sooty male sweepers in a rooftop ballet, Bert is an old charmer and easy on the eye.

And that's just “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.

A bit of trivia [from]:

-    The author of the "Poppins" books, P.L. Travers, approved heartily of the casting of Julie Andrews after hearing her only on the telephone. Andrews granted the interview from her bed after the delivery of her daughter, Emma Walton.

-    The planning and composing of the songs took about two years.

-    Walt Disney regarded Mary Poppins as one of the crowning achievements of his career.

-    Julie Andrews initially hesitated in taking on the part of Mary Poppins as she was hoping that Jack L. Warner would ask her to star as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (the part eventually went to Audrey Hepburn). That call never came, prompting Andrews to cheekily thank Warner in her Best Actress Golden Globe acceptance speech for Mary Poppins.

-    Many of the nannies in the large queue of applicants for the job at the start of the film were actually men in drag.

Memrorable quotes:

Mary Poppins: Our first game is called Well Begun is Half-Done.
Michael: I don't like the sound of that.
Mary Poppins: Otherwise titled Let's Tidy up the Nursery.
Michael: I told you she was tricky.

[Mary Poppins measures herself with her tape measure and reads what it says]
Mary Poppins: As I expected. "Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way."

With its "supercalifragilistic" soundtrack, magical moments and dancing penguins (!), this 1964 musical still has the power to inspire and amaze viewers of all ages.

angie 2009/05/31 7:41 AM
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Mary Poppins is the kind of feel good movie that will be popular from generation to generation
Betty 2009/05/31 10:11 AM
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I remember taking my four young children to see Mary Poppins as an annual treat, (when you had 4 children in the ealy 1960's an annual treat was all you could afford.) They now have children and grand children of their own yet the story and movie stays fresh in their minds and mine. I must get a copy of it to give to my eldest greatgrand daughter who is 3 and loves the movies. How I wish they still made movies like this.
Miss H 2009/05/31 1:51 PM
I play in a symphonic wind orchestra in Cape Town, and for our next show we are playing an arrangement of the Mary Poppins songs. Everytime I hear one of the well-known tunes it takes me back to when I was a little kid watching the movie time after time in the school holidays.
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