One of Disney’s most delightful tales, Mary Poppins featured the best integration yet of cartoon and live action film.
Based on the P.L. Travers books, the movie opens in Edwardian London, at the home of stuffy banker George Banks, his suffragette wife Winifred, and precocious children Jane and Michael. The impossible tykes have frightened off the latest in a string of nannies, forcing George to take out an advertisement for a new one.
Jane and Michael have a few criteria of their own (rosy cheeks, no warts, and so on), but George rips up their childish list of qualifications and puts it in the fireplace.
A strong wind carries the torn-up list to the cloudy home of Mary Poppins, who blows away the competition (literally) and floats down to the Banks’ doorstep via her magical umbrella.
The perfectly prim nanny charms her way into the Banks household, where the magical adventures really begin.
Among the memorable episodes are a trip into a chalk drawing with jack-of-all-trades Bert, a tea party on the ceiling with Uncle Albert, and a rooftop dance number featuring the assembled chimney sweeps of London.
Through it all, George attempts to retain a reserved control, finally reaching his breaking point when Jane and Michael make a disastrous outing to the Dawes, Tomes, Mousely, Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank . . .
The stellar cast included Dick Van Dyke (despite the worst cod-cockney accent ever captured on celluloid), David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Ed Wynn, and (in her screen debut) Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, a role that won her a Best Actress Academy Award.
The film was nominated for a total of thirteen Oscars, also winning for its Original Musical Score, Editing, Visual Effects and for the song Chim-Chim-Cher-ee. Composer brothers Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman wrote the show’s unforgettable tunes – Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, A Spoonful of Sugar, Let’s Go Fly a Kite and more.
London was probably never ever like this – but it doesn’t hurt to dream.
Despite its reputation and success, P.L. Travers resisted the advances of the Walt Disney Corporation for more than 20 years after it first approached her with the proposition of adapting her much-loved children’s book for the big screen. She eventually capitulated on the provision of script approval. After seeing the finished film, she produced a list of changes she wanted the studio to make.
Matthew Garber, who played Michael Banks, passed away at the age of 21 in 1977. The cause of death was Haemorrhagic Necrotising Pancreatitis.
Dick Van Dyke
Mr Dawes Snr
Dick Van Dyke
Mr Dawes Jr
J. Pat O’Malley