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Mary Poppins Revisited - My Review

Updated on July 2, 2012

Rate Mary Poppins

5 out of 5 stars from 5 ratings of Movie

Mary Poppins was produced by Walt Disney (1964). The screenplay was written by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, based on the Mary Poppins book series written by P.L.Travers. Robert Stevenson directed the movie and the songs were written by the Sherman Brothers. This film was nominated for 13 Oscars. Julie Andrews won Best Actress and the film was awarded Best Film Editing, Original Musical Score, Best Visual Effects and Best Song (Chim Chim Cheree).

Runtime: 139 mins.

Box Office Gross: $102,300,000 (USA) (IMDb)

Official Trailer (1964)

Bert's one man band

Family Entertainment - good values

I often wonder about the impact technology has on the young. I grew up in the days when we had strict censorship in South Africa. At that time, each new Disney movie was eagerly awaited and people would queue around the block to go to the movies. Enter Julie Andrews, one of my all-time favorite actresses. Back then, there was so much quality family fare and I can tell you this: I was greatly influenced by the message of kindness and the awareness of nature that was so inherent in Disney films.

It bothers me greatly that today’s youth watch so much inappropriate content in movies, on TV and in video games. I wonder what kind of effect it will have in the long term. It is not so difficult to imagine. Julie Andrews was a wonderful actress, particularly for children. Her beautiful features and crisp English diction, not to mention her exquisite voice and ability to dance, combined to make her an eternal favorite for family entertainment. On my recent trip back from South Africa, I decided to watch movie classics and Mary Poppins was one of them.

The Perfect Nanny

Well begun is half done

Just a spoonful of sugar...

Dick van Dyke and Julie Andrews complement one another completely

Dick Van Dyke’s acting, singing and dancing ability and his partnership with the inimitable Julie Andrews in this wonderful musical couldn’t be more perfect. Disney movies are the perfect vehicle for their talents and vice-versa. This evergreen, feel-good children’s movie brings back an era when things were innocent and children were still children. Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber) are perfectly cast as the “wayward” children of Mr. and Mrs. Banks who require the services of cook, housekeeper and nanny to run their household. This gives Mrs. Banks (Glynis Johns) all the time she needs to passionately pursue her role as a Suffragette and leave the management of her home to her staff. The children are apparently a handful and cannot keep a nanny for longer than a couple of days.

Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson) delivers a stern reprimand after the exit of yet another nanny and begins to place an advertisement for someone sober to take care of the children. A very charming Jane and Michael set about writing an ad themselves and their irritated father promptly tears up their letter and throws it into the fireplace - and then the magic begins! :)

Enter Mary Poppins, and what an entrance! I was totally enthralled when Mary Poppins descended from the sky, blew her competition away (so to speak) and completely won over stern Papa, Mr. Banks. It was even more fun to see her slide UP the banister and proceed to remove extremely big objects from a simple carpetbag. How much more fun was it to tidy up a messy playroom just with a click of the fingers and have the bed made up – snap – like that! When Mary Poppins sang with the robins andone flew in and sat on her finger (even though it was obviously fake), I was completely enchanted! Spit-Spot… Mary Poppins is Practically Perfect in Every Way!

Feed the birds

Some of you, dear Readers, may have read some of my other writings which make mention of the fact that I feed the birds. Guess what? That’s right! The song about the old woman feeding the birds at St. Paul’s Cathedral made a huge impact on me. I remember it vividly. It made me aware of creatures in our environment that depend on humans and the very fact that humankind has impacted negatively on so many natural habitats all over the planet, that we are forcing wildlife to the brink of survival.

As soon as I was old enough, I began feeding birds and did not keep them in cages. The apple does not fall far from the tree, and my beloved son has a heart as tender as mine. He would often find a sick bird and carry it in his hands to the Vet nearby so it could be helped. In so many of Disney’s animated movies, the Princess is kind and a friend to animals and birds and that sang to my heart. The songs in Mary Poppins are delightful and infectious.

I love to laugh

Laughter makes everything better

Another part of the movie has had me meditating about it for a while. There is a scene where Bert calls Mary Poppins to help with Uncle Albert, wonderfully acted by Ed Wynn. They rush over there with the children, to find old Uncle Albert floating near the ceiling. It becomes apparent that he is up there due to great hilarity. Mary Poppins tries to dissuade the children from laughing, but as you well know, when we find something funny and are told not to laugh, it is virtually impossible to stop. Bert and the children rise to the occasion and join their friend near the ceiling. Mary Poppins decides that it may be a good idea to join them and she does. While they are up there, they realize that it is time for tea, so Mary Poppins is glad to oblige by bringing the table up to them – all laid out with scrumptious tea accoutrements. Eventually the hilarity subsides, and so do all our friends, and they finally come back down to earth. I loved that scene and often think about how effective laughter is in lifting us all up. Yours truly used to be the class clown, as I enjoyed making people laugh – and so did my son! The apple never really falls far from the tree you know.

Mary, Bert and the children on the sidewalk

I loved the creativity of the scene where Mary Poppins, Bert and kids all jump into a chalk drawing on the pavement and proceed to mount pretty merry-go-round horses and end up winning a horse race. The fact that they help a poor fox which is being mercilessly chased by heartless riders on horses, accompanied by their baying hounds, scored a big plus for me. That is one criticism I have of the British royal family. I have never liked the idea of hunting! My opinion is that if you have to shoot an animal, shoot with a camera, unless it’s your survival that’s at stake! The marriage of actors with animation has always fascinated me and what charming set designs! Dick Van Dyk's fabulous dance with penguins is outstanding.

Fox hunt


Bert dances with the Penguins


Step in time

More beautiful songs and fabulous choreography

I loved the songs: “Supercalafragalisticexpialidocious,” “Chim Chimini,” and "Step in Time." The choreography and dancing is truly outstanding. What a talented bunch of dancers! The song, “Let’s go fly a kite” had me soaring. When I was a little girl, I recall with clarity when my two older brothers would begin building kites using dowel sticks and string to build the frame; then they would glue different colored tissue paper over the frame and finally add a tail and string to it. I watched with great interest, wondering why I couldn’t build one too. The next part was the most fun – going to see how quickly they could get their kites to fly! We lived across the road from a school. Toward the bottom of the road was a big field for athletics and sports games. It was the most natural place to run and play and ride bikes and fly kites on a weekend when the field was not being used. My brothers flew the kites and I watched. I was dying to fly one of my own. I did eventually, when my own son was old enough. I took him with his beloved cousins to the school field and we ran around trying to get the kites to fly. I remember that I was wearing my favorite pair of jeans. Due to the fact that they were well worn and that I was trying my damnedest to get the kite airborne, I split my jeans, right along one of my buttocks! The kite had a new function then… it became a good shield for my butt. I highly recommend the activity of kite flying for families. It is relaxing and a lot of fun, as evidenced by the Banks family and the crusty old directors from the bank. Did you know that Dick Van Dyk played the role of decrepit Mr. Dawes Sr. ?

Fidelity Fiduciary Bank - Guess Who?

Let's go fly a kite


Highly Recommended

Mary Poppins is a delightful movie in every sense and I would highly recommend it for family viewing. It puts a lilt in one's step as you forget your worries and cares and find yourself transported by the magic, the charm and the humor of this captivating classic. With the addition of Disney animation which encapsulates the actors and the wonderful costumes, dance and music make this a movie to enjoy time after time and for many years to come.

© This writing is the work of Sue-Lynn Grace.

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