Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Stevenson|
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Written by||Bill Walsh
P. L. Travers (Books)
Dick Van Dyke
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
|Editing by||Cotton Warburton|
|Studio||Walt Disney Studios|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Release date(s)||August 27, 1964|
|Running time||139 minutes|
Mary Poppins is a 1964 Disney musical film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, produced by Walt Disney, and based on the Mary Poppins books series by P. L. Travers with illustrations by Mary Shepard. The film was directed by Robert Stevenson and written by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, with songs by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. It was shot at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.
The film begins with Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) perched in a cloud high above London in Spring 1910. The action descends to earth where Bert (Dick Van Dyke), a Cockney jack-of-all-trades is performing as a one-man band at a park entrance, where he suddenly senses that his good friend is about to return. After the show, he breaks the "Fourth wall" and introduces the audience to the well-to-do but troubled Banks family, headed by the cold and aloof Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson) and the loving but highly distracted suffragette Mrs. Banks (Glynis Johns).
The Banks' latest nanny, Katie Nanna (Elsa Lanchester), quits out of exasperation after the Banks children, Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber) run off in pursuit of a wayward kite. Mr. Banks returns home from his job at a bank, and Mrs. Banks reveals the children are missing. A policeman arrives with the children, who ask their father to help repair their damaged kite, but he dismisses them and advertises for an authoritarian nanny-replacement. Jane and Michael draft their own advertisement asking for a fun, kind-hearted and caring person, but Mr. Banks tears up the paper and throws it in the fireplace. Unnoticed, the note's remains float up the chimney.
The next day, there is a queue of old and disagreeable nanny candidates waiting at the door. However, a strong gust of wind literally blows the queue away, and Mary Poppins floats down with her umbrella to apply. Mr. Banks is stunned to see that this calmly defiant new nanny has responded to the children's ad despite the fact he destroyed it. As he puzzles, Mary Poppins employs herself and begins work.
The children face surprises of their own: Mary possesses a bottomless carpetbag, and makes contents of the children's nursery come to life and tidy themselves (by snapping her fingers). The trio then meet Bert in the park at work as a screever, where Mary uses one of his chalk pavement-drawings as a gateway to an outing in an animated countryside, before rain washes out the drawings. The next day, they all visit Bert's jovial Uncle Albert, who floats whenever he laughs, and join him in a tea party in mid-air (though Mary finds it a little childish). that evening, the children ask Mary how long she'll stay with them. With a sombre expression, she replies, "I shall stay 'until the wind changes.'"
Mr. Banks grows uncomfortable with his children's stories of their adventures, but Mary effortlessly inverts his attempted dismissal of her services into a plan to take his children with him to the bank where he is employed. Mr. Dawes, Mr. Banks' extremely elderly employer, aggressively tries to persuade Michael to invest his money in the bank to the point of snatching it out of his hand without waiting for his explicit permission. When Michael protests, the other customers misunderstand, and start a run on the bank that forces the bank to suspend business. The children flee and wander into the slums of the East End of London. Fortunately, they run into Bert, now employed as a chimney sweep. He takes them safely home, explaining that their father does not hate them, but that he has problems of his own, and that unlike the children, has no-one to turn to but himself.
At home, a departing Mrs. Banks employs Bert to clean the family's chimney and mind the children. Mary Poppins arrives back from her day off and warns of the dangers of this activity, but is too late as the children are both sucked up the chimney to the roof. Bert and Mary follow them and lead a tour of the rooftops of London that concludes with a joyful dance with Bert's chimney-sweep colleagues. A volley of fireworks from the Banks' eccentric neighbour, Admiral Boom, who thought London was being attacked by Hottentots, sends the entire gathering back down the Banks' chimney. Mr. Banks arrives home, forcing Mary to conclude the festivities. Banks then receives a phone call from work ordering him to return immediately for disciplinary action. As Mr. Banks gathers his strength, Bert points out that while Mr. Banks does need to make a living, his offspring's childhood will come and go in a blink of an eye, and he needs to be there for them while he can. The Banks children approach their father to apologize, and Michael gives Mr. Banks his tuppence in the hope that it will make things all right. Banks gently accepts the offering.
A sombre and thoughtful Mr. Banks walks alone through the night-time streets. At the bank, he is formally humiliated and sacked for causing the first run on the bank since 1773 (it is stated that the bank supplied the money for the shipment of tea destroyed in the Boston Tea Party). However, after being at a loss when ordered to give a statement, Mr. Banks invokes Mary Poppins' all-purpose word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" to tweak Mr. Dawes. He gives Dawes the tuppence, tells the old man one of Uncle Albert's jokes and raucously departs. Dawes mulls over the joke, finally "gets it" and floats up into the air, laughing...
The next morning, the winds have changed direction, and so Mary must depart. Meanwhile, the Banks adults cannot find Mr. Banks, and fear that he might have become suicidal. However, Mr. Banks, now loving and joyful, reappears with the now-mended kite and cheerfully summons his children. The greatly-relieved Mrs. Banks supplies a tail for the kite, using one of her suffragette ribbons. They all leave the house without a backward glance as Mary Poppins watches from a window. In the park with other kite-flyers, Mr. Banks meets Mr. Dawes Jr., who says that his father literally died laughing. Instead of being mournful, the son is delighted his father died happy, and re-employs Mr. Banks to fill the opening as partner. Her work done, Mary Poppins takes to the air with a fond farewell from Bert, telling her not to stay away too long. After the credits roll, the letters for the name for the person who played Mr. Dawes Sr., rearrange themselves to spell Dick Van Dyke.
The first book was the main basis for the Walt Disney film Mary Poppins, a musical with mixed live action and animation which premiered on August 27, 1964. It was the Sherman Brothers, who composed the music and song score, and who were also involved in the picture's development, who suggested that the setting be changed from the 1930s to the Edwardian era. Julie Andrews, who was making her movie acting debut after a successful stage career, got the prime role of Mary Poppins soon after she was passed over by Jack Warner and replaced with Audrey Hepburn for the role of Eliza Doolittle in his screen version of My Fair Lady, even though Andrews had originated the role on Broadway. Andrews later beat Hepburn for the Best Actress Awards in both the Golden Globes and Academy Awards for their respective roles.
Disney cast Dick Van Dyke in the key supporting role of Bert, thanks to his work on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Van Dyke also played the senior Mr. Dawes in the film. Although he is fondly remembered for this film, Van Dyke's attempt at a Cockney accent (lapsing out of it at times) was nonetheless widely ridiculed and is still frequently parodied. It is still often cited as one of the worst attempts at a British accent by an American actor, a fact acknowledged with good humour by Van Dyke himself on the 2004 DVD release of the film.
According to the 40th Anniversary DVD release of the film in 2004, Walt Disney first attempted to purchase the film rights to Mary Poppins from P.L. Travers as early as 1938 but was rebuffed because Travers did not believe a film version of her books would do justice to her creation. In addition, Disney was known at the time primarily as a producer of cartoons and had yet to produce any major live action work. For more than 20 years, Disney periodically made efforts to convince Travers to allow him to make a Poppins movie. He finally succeeded in 1961, although Travers demanded and got script approval rights. Planning the film and composing the songs took about two years. Travers objected to a number of elements that actually made it into the movie. Rather than original songs, she wanted the soundtrack to feature known standards of the Edwardian period in which the story is set. She also objected to the animated sequence. Disney overruled her, citing contract stipulations that he had final say on the finished print. Much of their correspondence is part of the Travers collection of papers in the Mitchell Library of New South Wales, Australia. The relationship between Travers and Disney is detailed in Mary Poppins She Wrote, a biography of Travers, by Valerie Lawson. The biography is the basis for two documentaries on Travers, The Real Mary Poppins and Lisa Matthews' The Shadow of Mary Poppins.
A number of other changes were necessary to condense the story into feature length. In the movie, there are only two Banks children, Jane and Michael. The satirical and mysterious aspects of the original book gave way to a cheerful and "Disneyfied" tone. Mary Poppins' character as portrayed by Andrews in the film is somewhat less vain and more sympathetic toward the children than the rather cold and intimidating nanny of the original book. Bert, as played by Van Dyke, was a composite of several characters from Travers' stories. Travers demanded that any suggestions of romance between Mary and Bert be eliminated, so lyrics were written for "Jolly Holiday" that clearly indicated that their friendship was purely platonic (some subtle hints of romance remain, however).
As mentioned above, Van Dyke played two roles in the film. Andrews did at least three: she provided the robin's whistling harmony during "A Spoonful of Sugar", and was also one of the Pearly singers during "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". David Tomlinson, besides playing Mr. Banks, also provided the voice of Mary's talking umbrella as well as numerous other voice-over parts (including that of Admiral Boom's first mate). During the "Jolly Holiday" sequence, the three singing Cockney geese were voiced by Marni Nixon. (Nixon would later play one of Julie Andrews' fellow nuns in The Sound of Music; she also provided the singing voice for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.)
"Practically perfect in every way". She comes down from the clouds in response to the Banks children's advertisement for a Nanny. She is not only firm in her use of authority, but kind and gentle as well (a major departure from the original books, in which the character was strict and pompous).
She was played by Julie Andrews, who won a Best Actress Oscar award for the role.
Bert, portrayed by Dick Van Dyke, is a jack-of-all-trades and Mary's closest normal friend who is notable in that he is completely accustomed to her magic. Their interaction, such as in the song "Jolly Holiday", makes it clear they have known each other for a long time, and that this kind of story has repeated itself many times. When she sails away at the end of the film, he asks her not to stay away too long.
Bert has at least four jobs during the movie: a one-man band, a sidewalk chalk artist (or "screever"), a chimney sweep, and a kite seller. Bert also hints at selling hot chestnuts. His various street-vending jobs meet with mixed financial success, but he retains his cheery disposition.
Bert also indirectly assists Mary Poppins in her mission to save the Banks family, as he plays a key role in helping the Banks children and Mr. Banks to understand each other better.
George Banks, played by David Tomlinson, is Mary Poppins' employer and the film's antagonist. He appears to have a bad case of OCD having to go through the same song and dance daily, then getting really annoyed when something interrupts his routine. He works at the Dawes Tomes Mousley Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in the City of London, and lives at 17 Cherry Tree Lane with his wife, Winifred, and their children. He is a driven and disciplined man who callously dismisses the "Votes for Women" movement and tends to treat his children, wife, and servants as assets rather than people — a fact clearly evidenced in his song "The Life I Lead". By the end of the movie, Mr. Banks' attitude towards his family, job, and Mary Poppins has changed dramatically. In contrast to what his children want, George wants a strict and authoritarian nanny that will give commands to "mold" Jane and Michael into nothing more than little obedient soldiers, something that his wife agrees with until and after the children show their ad for a new nanny. He often hurts his head in the fireplace when he tries to look for the paper he ripped earlier because of distractions.
Melodies in the score punctuate the children's need for their father's attention and love, and most of the dramatic tension in the film involves his journey from disconnected family autocrat to fully engaged family man.
According to the Special Edition Soundtrack Bonus Disc, Mary Poppins was George's own nanny when he was a child. Travers intended to have the script hint this strongly in a few places, but it was largely left out of the movie, except for the following words in Bert's opening song, "Can't put me finger on what lies in store. .. But I feel what's to 'appen, all 'appened before. ..!" and George's own statement to the elder Mr. Dawes that "Poppins" was "my nanny". However, in Banks' initial interview with Mary Poppins, there is little or no indication that the two have ever met before, and his description of her as "my nanny" could easily be meant in the same way as "my maid" or "my cook".
Mrs. Winifred Banks, played by Glynis Johns, wife of George Banks and the mother of Jane and Michael. She is more fully developed in the movie than in the books. She is depicted as a member of Emmeline Pankhurst's suffragette movement and appears to be so dedicated to the women's cause to the extent that she, like her husband, neglects the children. Her main outfit is a blue and orange Edwardian-style dress with a white and blue sash that reads "Votes for Women" in black letters. She wears white gloves in the film (as did most Edwardian English women). Her song in the movie is "Sister Suffragette," which she sings with the other two women of the household staff. She is mostly responsible for the primary duty which is "Posts, everyone!", a simple way to protect elegant and delicate stuff from destruction when Mr. Binnigal fires the cannon. She is also given yellow daisies by Michael Banks in one morning.
She is more sensitive to the needs of the children than her husband is, but also finds herself starved for his attention. As with the children, it is clear she loves George very much, but he is too wrapped up in his view of the way things "ought to be" to return her love satisfactorily. She only refers to him by his name and "dear," which was common among Edwardian wives. (George addresses his wife by her name only, common among Edwardian husbands.) Mrs. Banks was originally named "Cynthia," but this was quickly changed to the more "English-sounding" Winifred after some issues with the script; however, some alternate universe fan fiction stories have her name as Cynthia.
Mrs. Banks' four "Votes for Women" sashes from the movie have all survived and are in perfect condition. One can be seen being "pulled out" of Richard M. Sherman's "special musicians' trunk" on the Musical Journey seen on the 2004 DVD release.
Mrs. Banks and Mary Poppins never speak to each other in the movie, though Mrs. Banks does mention her frequently. In the book, they do speak to one another.
While the Banks family in the original novel had four children, only Jane and Michael appear in the movie. They were played by Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber. Katie Nanna's stormy departure suggests that the children are impossibly undisciplined, and they do demonstrate some evidence of this in their own advertisement for a new nanny, as they promise not to "hide her spectacles so she can't see, put toads in her bed or pepper in her tea" while smiling at each other in remembrance of jokes on former nannies. Once Mary Poppins arrives, the children come across as mostly sweet and innocent.
All they want is for their father to love them, and they have falsely interpreted his indifference to their needs as disliking them. They have tried to live up to his demands on them, which has only left them with shaky self-esteem. Those elements come together in a bit of dialogue early in the film, in which they explain that they did not run away from Katie Nanna, their kite took them away from her. They say that the kite is not very good, because they made it themselves. They suggest to their father that if he could help them with it, it would turn out better. At that point, Banks is too wrapped up in his philosophy, that a British household should be run like a British bank, to take this strongest of hints.
After inadvertently causing a run on the bank, the children give their father their tuppence, expressing the hope that it will make things right. At that moment, Mr. Banks finally understands, and his priorities take a 180-degree turn, leading to the film's happy resolution.
A number of other songs were written for the film by the Sherman Brothers and either rejected or cut for time. Richard Sherman, on the 2004 DVD release, indicated that more than 30 songs were written at various stages of the film's development. No cast recordings of any of these songs have been released to the public, only demos or later performances done by the songwriters — with the exception of the rooftop reprise of "Chim-Chim-Cheree" and the "smoke staircase yodel" mentioned below.
The Compass Sequence, a precursor to "Jolly Holiday", was to be a multiple-song sequence. A number of possible musical components have been identified:
American Film Institute recognition
This film was the #1 moneymaker of 1965, earning a net profit of $28,500,000. The Sound of Music was #2 with $20,000,000; Goldfinger was #3 at $19,700,000; and My Fair Lady was #4 at $19,000.000. The film received a 100% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 100 out of 100 on Metacritic.
Mary Poppins was first released in the Early 1980s on VHS and laserdisc. In 1994, 1997 and 1999, it was re-released three times as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection. In 1998, this movie became Disney's first DVD. In 2000, it was released on VHS and DVD as part of the Gold Classic Collection. In 2004, it had a 2-Disc DVD release in a Digitally Restored 40th Anniversary Edition. On January 27, 2009, the film was released on DVD again as a 45th anniversary edition, with morre language tracks and special features.
In 2004, Julie Andrews appeared in a live-action/animated short that was produced by DisneyToon Studios for the 40th Anniversary DVD release of the 1964 film. Entitled The Cat That Looked at a King, the film was based upon part of the P.L. Travers book Mary Poppins Opens the Door and could be seen as something of a sequel or followup to the movie. The film was offered to The Answer Studio, which is partly made up of former employees of Walt Disney Animation (Japan), to be their first project. President Motoyoshi Tokunaga says that 20 artists/animators worked on the film for a period of three months.
The film opens in the modern day with two British children looking at chalk drawings at the same location where Bert did his artwork in the original movie (the set was recreated, down to the last detail using the originals, according to Julie Andrews). Andrews, dressed in modern clothes, greets the children and takes them into the chalk drawing where they watch the tale unfold. A cat (Tracy Ullman) comes into the presence of a king (David Ogden Stiers) who loves the facts and figures of the world more than anything else. Unfortunately, this includes his wife, the Queen (Sarah, Duchess of York). The Cat and the King challenge each other to three questions each: if the Cat wins, she gets the kingdom but if the King wins, he will become the smartest man in the universe. The Cat wins all her questions whilst the King wins none. When the King tells them he does not know who he is anymore, the Cat shows an image of him dancing with the Queen. She declines her prize and is given a brooch as a token of thanks by the Queen. The children and Andrews return to the park entrance where Mary declines that she took them into the painting, as she did in the film. The Prime Minister was also voiced by David Ogden Stiers.
Whether Andrews is playing a modern-day Mary Poppins or not is left to the viewer's imagination, although some sources identify Andrews' character as Mary Poppins. The shadow of Mary Poppins can also be seen when she looks down at the live action cat towards the end.
An orchestral reprise of Feed the Birds is heard to open the film and another reprise of Jolly Holiday is heard at the end. Quotes from the film such as Mary's catchphrase "Spit-spot!" and "I have no intention of making a spectacle of myself, thank you" are also featured. She also says "A respectable person like me in a painting? How dare you suggest such a thing!" which parodies "A respectable person like me in a horse race? How dare you suggest such a thing!" which she said when Jane and Michael told her of their adventure in Bert's chalk picture in the film.
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