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Mary-poppins

Mary Poppins (1964) is a live-action musical comedy film produced by Walt Disney. Directed by Robert Stevenson (also responsible for The Love Bug and Bedknobs & Broomsticks), Mary Poppins is based on the novel of the same name by P.L. Travers.

On its release, Mary Poppins received positive reviews and was a box-office success. It also won five Academy Awards including Best Actress; Julie Andrews received the award for her portrayal of the title character.

Synopsis

In Edwardian London, 1910, George Banks, who is the secretary of the kindly chairman of the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, Mr. Dawes, returns home from work to learn from his wife, Winifred, that the building's nanny, Katie Nanna, has left their service after his funny and cheerful kids, Jane and Michael, who dream of what London is like, ran away again. They are returned shortly after by George's best friend and the chief of Scotland Yard, Constable Jones, who reveals the children were chasing a lost kite. The children ask their father to help build a better kite, but he dismisses them. Taking it upon himself to hire a new nanny, Mr. Banks advertises for a stern, no-nonsense nanny. Instead, Jane and Michael present their own advertisement for a kinder, sweeter nanny. Mr. Banks rips up the letter, and throws the scraps in the fireplace, but the remains of the advertisement magically float up, and out into the air.

The next day, a number of elderly, sour-faced nannies wait outside the Banks' home, but a strong gust of wind blows them away, and Jane and Michael witness a young woman named Mary Poppins descending from the sky using her umbrella. Presenting herself to Mr. Banks, Mary Poppins calmly produces the children's restored advertisement, and agrees with its requests, but promises the astonished banker she will be firm with his children. As Mr. Banks puzzles over the advertisement's return, Mary Poppins hires herself, and convinces him it was originally his idea. She meets the children, then helps them tidy their nursery through song, before heading out for a walk in the park, so Jane and Micheal realized their dreams came true.

Outside, they meet a Cockney resident of various jobs named Bert (the narrator of the film), working as a screever, and Mary Poppins uses her magic to transport the group into one of his drawings. While the children ride on a carousel, Mary Poppins and Bert go on a leisurely stroll. Mary Poppins later enchants the carousel horses, and participates in a horse race, which she wins. While being asked to describe her victory, Mary Poppins announces the nonsense word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", much to the surprise and amazement of Jane and Micheal. However, the outing is ruined when a thunderstorm dissolves Bert's drawings, returning the group to London, which causes Bert to quit his job. On another outing, Mary, Micheal and Jane meet Mary's weird uncle, Albert Poppins, who has floated up in the air due to his uncontrollable laughter; they join him for a tea party on the ceiling by telling jokes.

Mr. Banks becomes annoyed by the household's cheery atmosphere, and threatens to fire Mary Poppins. Instead, Mary Poppins inverts his attempt by convincing him to take the children to the bank for a day. Mr. Banks takes Jane and Michael to the bank, where they meet Dawes and ask him to get their tuppence. But Dawes is revealed to be a selfish man who refuses to give the tuppences away and his bank turns out to be a money prison. Michael demands them back, causing other customers to misinterpret, and all demand their own money back, causing a bank run.

Jane and Michael flee the bank, getting lost in the East End until they run into Bert, now working as a chimney sweep, who escorts them home. The three and Mary Poppins venture onto the rooftops, where they have a song-and-dance number with other chimney sweeps. Meanwhile, the Banks' cranky but friendly neighbor, Admiral Boom, who fires his cannon from his roof twice a day, thinks that they're dancing Hottentots on the rooftops, so he tells his bumbling and cheerful assistant, Mr. Binnacle, to shoot fireworks at them so he can shoo them away, but the sweeps end up at the Banks' home, in which the residents and servants think they are pests invading their home.

An incensed Mr. Banks returns, and receives a phone call from his employers. He speaks with Bert, who tells him he should spend more time with his children before they grow up. Jane and Michael give their father Michael's tuppence in the hope to make amends. Mr. Banks walks through London to the bank, where he is given a humiliating cashiering, and is dismissed. Looking to the tuppence for words, he betrays and defeats him by blurting out "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!", telling one of Albert's jokes, and happily heads home. Dawes mulls over the joke, but finally "gets" it, and floats up into the air, laughing in defeat.

The next day,  the wind changes, meaning Mary Poppins must leave. A happier Mr. Banks, who comes back from the film's final battle, is found at home, having fixed his children's kite, and takes the family out to fly it. In the park, the Banks family meets Dawes' cheerful older son and deputy, Mr. Dawes Jr., who reveals his father died laughing from the joke, and he got killed by him, meaning that the tuppences are given back and the bank is a bank again. So he hired his son to be the new chairman of the bank. Although initially sorry, Mr. Banks soon becomes happy for him, as Mr. Dawes Jr. had never seen his father happier in his life and re-employs Mr. Banks as a junior partner. With her work done, Mary Poppins flies away, with Bert and the Banks family bidding her farewell.

Production

Development for the film began in the 1940s when one of Walt Disney's children told him about the book. Walt wanted to produce the film, but could not receive permission from the author until the 1960s.

Julie Andrews was cast for the lead role after she rejected an offer to act as Eliza in My Fair Lady (the role went to Audrey Hepburn). She previous acted as Eliza during the Broadway stage version of My Fair Lady. This was her acting debut on film. She later reworked with Disney when she appeared in Enchanted.

Mary Poppins marked other acting debuts of the following with Disney; David Tomlinson (later appearing in The Love Bug and Bedknobs and Broomsticks), Reginald Owen (Bedknobs and Broomsticks), Elsa Lanchester (That Darn Cat, Blackbeard's Ghost, Rascal), Hermione Badderly (The Happiest Millionnaire, The Aristocats) and Dick Van Dyke (Lt. Robinson Crusoe USN, Never A Dull Moment).

The Sherman Brothers, Richard and Robert, were hired to write the soundtrack. Mary Poppins is their seventh collaboration with Disney - the fifth being The Sword In The Stone and the first being The Parent Trap.

Production Details

Details Contributor(s)
Directed by Robert Sherman
Produced by Walt Disney
Screenplay by

Bill Walsh

Don DaGradi

Based on

Mary Poppins by PL Travers

Music by

Robert & Richard Sherman (songs)

Irwin Kostal (score)

Cinematography Edward Colman
Editing by Cotton Warburton
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release Date 27th August 1964
Running time 139 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Cast

Character Actor Character Details
Mary Poppins Julie Andrews A 29-year-old magical nanny. She uses an umbrella as a parachute and a form of transport. She is the titular deuteragonist of the film.
Bert Dick Van Dyke Mary's close friend. He is a cockney-accented 39-year-old con-artist. He is the main tritagonist of the film. He is London's number-one villain (except Mary, Jane, Micheal, and the Banks parents, who are his only friends).
George Banks David Tomlinson Mary's employer. He works as a banker and seems to neglect his wife's campaign and treats her and his children as assets. He is extremely disciplined and quite dedicated to his work. He also appears more conservative compared to his family. He is the main antagonist of the film and Mr. Dawes Sr.'s secretary. He is part of the film's Big Bad Duumvirate. At the end of the film, he performs a Heel–Face Turn by defeating Dawes.
Winifred Banks Glynis Johns George's left-wing wife. She, along with Ellen and Mrs Brill, rebels against the British government for their dismissal of women's rights. She is the secondary tritagonist of the film.
Michael Banks Matthew Garbor George and Mary Banks' son. He appears more left-wing than his father, considering his protests towards Mr Dawes Sr when he snatches Michael's money which he wants to save to charitirise the birds. He is one of the two main protagonists of the film.
Jane Banks Karen Dotrice George and Mary Banks' daughter and Michael's sister. She is one of the two main protagonists of the film.
Ellen Hermione Badderly A 58-year-old woman who is the maid who works at the Banks household. She is also involved in Winifred's suffrage campaign and loves the children, even though she has no time to look after them. She is a major character in the film.
Mrs. Brill Reta Shaw An 81-year-old woman who works as a cook at the Banks household. She is also involved in Winifred's suffrage campaign and is the boss to Ellen. She despises intruders. She is a major character in the film.
Admiral Boom Reginald Owen A retired selfish, cranky and grouchy navy man who works on the rooftop of 17 Cherrytree Lane. His cannon is scheduled to fire at 8am and 6pm. Although he gets on well with the Banks family, he is rather conservative; mistakes the chimney sweeps as Hottentots, as referred to South African residents. He is a major antagonist, despite being a good guy (but his temper makes the fans think he's a bad guy).
Mr. Binnacle Don Barclay Admiral Boom's cheerful and bumbling assistant who enjoys his job and gets excited when he has to charge up the cannon. He is a supporting antagonist, despite being a good guy. He is uncredited at the end credits. He shares all of his scenes with Admiral Boom.
Katie Nanna Elsa Lanchester The Banks' last nanny before they recruited Mary Poppins. She is shown to disapprove of her job and does not get on well with Mrs Brill. She only appears at the very beginning of the film and never interacts with Jane, Micheal, Mary, and Bert, despite being in the poster billing. She is a minor character in the film. Meanwhile, actual actors that didn't appear in the poster's billing like Reta Shaw, Don Barclay and Arthur Malet have far more screen time than Lanchester.
Mr Dawes Sr Dick Van Dyke (credited as Navckid Keyd) Mr Banks' 137-year-old boss who runs the bank. He has knackety legs, which cause him to be-tumble constantly. He is the hidden secondary antagonist of the film and part of the film's Big Bad Duumvirate (the other being George). At first, he is a nice and gentle bank owner. But his song revealed that he and his sons are Evil All Along.
Mr Dawes Jr Arthur Malet Mr Dawes Sr's elderly son and one of his employees. Despite his hinted over-100 year old life, he has no problems regarding any part of his body. He loves and supports his father. He is a major antagonist in the film. At the end of the film, he performs a Heel–Face Turn when he is about to save his dad from being hurt by the "Wooden-Leg" joke. 
Constable Jones Arthur Treacher A sympathetic police cop and George's best friend who understands the children's problems and needs and disapproves of the treatment the children receive from their father. He is a former supporting antagonist.
Uncle Albert Poppins Ed Wynn Mary's cheerful uncle whose condition is caused by uncontrollable laughing. He is a supporting character, despite only appearing at the final scene of the first act.
Bird Woman Jane Darwell She hangs around at St Paul's Cathedral and constantly feeds any nearby bird. She is a major character.

Bill Treacher (famous for portraying Arthur Fowler in EastEnders) was among one of the cameos and portrayed one of the chimney sweeps during the Step In Time sequence.

Politics

Despite Walt Disney's criticism regarding racism in some of his films, it is argued that Mary Poppins is one of Disney's left-wing projects; others including Robin Hood (1973), Aladdin (1992), Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996) and Mulan (1998).

There are scenes which demonstrate lefty elements

  • Near the start of the film, Winifred Banks declares herself a suffragette. This refers to women who fight for their rights to vote. She demonstrates her left-wing personality with her protest song Sister Suffragette. Ellen and Mrs Brill share her policies and join in the song. Another scene demonstrates their plans to throw roses at the then-UK prime minister. During the Step In Time sequence, she meets the chimney sweeps and they sing 'Vote the women, step in time,' demonstrating that they too support her left-wing policies.
  • During the Edwardian era, bankers were portrayed as 'greedy' and often 'capitalists'. George Banks and his colleagues, being bankers are portrayed the same. In one scene, when Mr Banks takes the kids to the bank, they spot the bird woman and the children insist charitising the birds (a traditional liberal thing), which Mr Banks grumpily forbids them to do as he intends to show them the 'right way' of using their money. Michael is still bent on treating the birds and Mr Dawes Sr insults his protests, attempting to convince Michael that he has 'fat birds'. 'Bird' is a term often used instead of 'woman', which could portray Mr Dawes Sr as a supporter to the UK government, banning women's freedom. Or else if he means a literal bird, it could depict animal-disrespect. These elements would therefore depict Mr Dawes Sr as 'conservative. Michael on the other hand still intends to do what he feels is best (namely feed the birds), which is traditionally liberal.
  • Speaking of animal rights, there is a scene where Bert rescues a fox from being hunted. This is mostly a liberal thing and shows signs of animal-respect. Later, when George Banks scolds Mary through his song A British Bank, he mentions; 'foxhunting, Yes, well I don't mind that quiet so much, But anyways its tradition'. What a Conservative! Presumably, he didn't pay attention to Bert rescuing the fox. There is also a recent true story when the British Conservative Party's leader David Cameron offered his support to the fox hunters.

Mary Poppins is one of the films that is likely to promote feminism (easily linked to liberalism), as demonstrated by Mrs Bank's rendition of Sister Suffragette, the maid and cook's appeal to the campaign and the fact that Mary Poppins a) is the main sharp focus in the film and b) wins most arguments against Mr Banks, i.e.

George: Would you be good enough to explain all this?!

Mary: First of all, I'd like to make one thing clear.

George: Yes?

Mary: I never explain anything.

Reception

Since its release, Mary Poppins received mainly positive reviews. The Radio Times tv guide ranked the movie 5 out of 5 stars, while the Rotten Tomatoes ranking is 100%. However, one element of negative criticism was received in regards to Dick Van Dyke's attempt for a Cockney accent, which to most of the media is regarded as one of the worst accents in film history.

Mary Poppins is one of the blockbusters from the 1960s. Over it's $6million budget, the film grossed $102,272,727 worldwide.

American Film Institute

Nominations:

  • 100 Years...100 Movies
  • 100 Years...100 Laughs
  • 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villians - Mary Poppins - Nominated Hero
  • 100 Years...100 Songs - Chim Chim Cher-ee
  • 100 Years...100 Cheers
  • 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary)
  • AFI's 10 Top Ten - Nominated Fantasy Film

Wins:

  • 100 Years...100 Songs - Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious #36
  • 100 Years...100 of Musicals #6

Academy Awards

Out of every Disney made movie to date, Mary Poppins has both won and been nominated for the largest number of Academy Awards. Excluding Honoury Awards, Mary Poppins is the first Disney movie to win multiple Oscars since Pinocchio (1940) and the last before The Little Mermaid (1989).

These are the results;

Nominations;

  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Art Direction (Color)
  • Best Cinematography (Color)
  • Best Costume Design (Color)
  • Best Director
  • Best Picture
  • Best Scoring Of Music (Adaption/Treatment)
  • Best Sound

Wins;

  • Best Editing
  • Best Leading Actress - Julie Andrews
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Song - Chim Chim Cher-ee
  • Best Visual Effects

External links