Mary Poppins: The Film

Picture
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, a queue of old and disagreeable nanny candidates waits at the door. However a strong gust of wind 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, promising George a one-week trial period before she knows when to be fully able to be permanently employed there.

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. 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.'" 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 and absolutely ridiculous).

Mr. Banks grows increasingly irate 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. On the way there, the kids see the bird woman and they want to feed the birds that are gathering at the cathedral, but George will not have any of it and orders his children to "come along!". 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 mistakes them for 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. (Navckid Keyd), rearrange themselves to spell Dick Van Dyke.


Quick Look Behind the Scenes @ the making of the Movie

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,[1] 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.[2][3][4]

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.)

Awards & Nominations

Academy Awards The film received 13 Academy Awards nominations and won 5 awards. This makes Mary Poppins the most Oscar-nominated Disney film in history.

Nominated

  Others American Film Institute recognition
2004 Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" #36
  • 2006 AFI's 100 Years of Musicals #6