CLASSIC REEL : Mary Poppins

Cast: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomilson, Glynis Johns, Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber

Directed By: Robert Stevenson

Year of Release: 1964

Plot: After the nanny in the Banks household leaves in a huff, a very strange young woman appears from the sky in answer to the children's advertisement for a replacement, leading them to wonderful adventures.

The Walt Disney musical  adaptation of P.L Travers' fantasy series was Julie Andrews' film debut after beginning her acting career on stage; accepting to play the 'firm but fair' English Nanny after being robbed of the chance to reprise her role of cockney flower girl Eliza Dolittle in the film adaptation of the stage musical-My Fair Lady- she starred in with Rex Harrison (who reprised his role of Professor Higgins in the film).

Mary Poppins creator P.L Travers initially disapproved of Andrews being chosen to play Mary, saying she was too attractive but on examining her later, had to agree that she was a very good actress, adding Andrews had  the nose to pull  it off.  And despite the movie named one of the greatest films of all time, Ms. Travers was also not pleased with the various  changes and  addition of songs and animation (as she hated cartoons, Lord knows why) however years later in an interview she revealed she had made peace with the adaptation;

"I've seen it once or twice, and I've learned to live with it. It's glamorous and it's a good film on its own level, but I don't think it is very like my books."

Also starring was American actor Dick Van Dyke who played  Bert- Mary Poppins' close friend and a jack of all trades in the movie; a one-man band, a pavement chalk artist, a chimney sweep and a kite seller. Van Dyke had to adopt a cockney accent, which to this day reviewers say was the worst accent ever (poor Dick), but he was lauded for playing another character in the movie; Mr Dawes Senior, the director of the bank Mr Banks worked. Accent or not, Van Dyke's jolly, fun loving personality all through Mary Poppins added to its wonderful charm.

The story begins when the nanny of Jane (Karen Dotrice, sister of Michelle who played Michael Crawford's loyal but long suffering wife in Some Mothers Do 'Ave Them) and Michael Banks (Matthew Garber) resigns after an annoying afternoon with the children- who actually ran to catch their kite.
Their stern father Mr. George Banks (played wonderfully by English actor David Tomilson) takes it upon himself to hire a new nanny who will take a firmer hand on his 'unruly' children, ignoring Karen and Michael's own requirements ("The Perfect Nanny") only to be greeted by a very strange woman with all their requirements; with added bonuses of being able to remove a wall mirror, lamp shade and house plant from her carpet bag, understanding what animals say, being able to fly and jump into magical lands.

Mary Poppins, along with Bert, not only gives the children new experiences but lessons, including learning to understand their father a bit more and George  understanding them far more and being a better father and husband. The ending was especially touching, with him, his wife Winifred (Glynis Jones) and the children dashing off to the park to the song, "Let's Go Fly A Kite".
The film, as earlier mentioned, contained fabulous songs- "A Spoonful of Sugar", ''I Love To Laugh", "Feed The Birds", "Stay Awake", 'Jolly Holiday" and the unforgettable "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".

Fun for the whole family!


Julie Andrews won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role, beating Audrey Hepburn, who replaced her in the film version of 'My Fair Lady'. Happily, it didnt cause a rivalry between the two actresses. 


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