Mary Poppins - 45th Anniversary
As the beloved Disney nanny
is packing them in on Broadway, it's time (yet again) to herald the return
of her best-known incarnation.
Mary Poppins came
out in a time of artistic and social upheaval. Beatlemania and the
hippie movement were just breaking out, the world was still mourning the
assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War was becoming a source
of strife on the home front as well as in the field.
However, as much as the
world was changing, there is nothing cutting edge about the plot of Mary
Poppins. In fact, it was a love letter to good old England, the
ideals and lifestyles which were just a hair away from being completely left
It's hard to believe now,
in an era when kids movies top out at like 70-80 minutes long, that the Disney folks
respected kids' attention spans enough to think they'd sit still for a movie
that runs two hours and 20 minutes long. It occasionally drags, but
there is still much to love here. While the animation and special
effects are a tad dated looking now, otherwise the film holds up extremely
Mary Poppins was the
screen debut of a well-known Broadway actress named Julie Andrews. She
had previously been the star of the hit musical My Fair Lady, but was
replaced by Audrey Hepburn in the movie version because Hepburn had more
name recognition outside of the theatrical community - despite the fact that
Hepburn couldn't really sing.
In Mary Poppins,
Andrews played the title
character, a magical nanny who visits the Banks family in London, circa 1910
to care for the kids. Mary appears to be a no-nonsense, somewhat
humorless sort, however she is able to create adventures for the children
and make chores seem like games.
The film paired her with
Van Dyke - who at the time was star of one of the biggest sitcoms on
television. Van Dyke is very likable as Bert (though his Cockney
accent is sometimes a bit too broad) - a man of all trades: one man band,
artist and chimney sweep. He also loves Mary in a chaste, Disney kind
of way and becomes a father figure for the children that their distant,
disciplinarian banker father could not seem to be.
It's somewhat shocking,
looking at it with modern eyes, how little of great excitement actually
happens in Mary Poppins. Kids in the new millennium are used to
their thrills at a faster pace, but even if Mary Poppins lacks
constant action, it makes up for it with imagination, beautiful artwork, a
heartfelt story and some classic Disney songs.
This 45th anniversary DVD
release is probably not all that different from the 40th anniversary version
released five years ago. Or for that matter, the movie itself
obviously hasn't changed from the earlier video incarnations of the title,
it's just a matter of letterboxing and extras. However this classic
film is always welcome and if you do not have an earlier version of this
movie, it certainly does deserve a place in any video library.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: January 14, 2009.