Monday, January 13, 2014

Mary Poppins

After recently watching the flawed but generally enjoyable Saving Mr. Banks, which tells the story of Walt Disney's courting of the prickly P.L. Travers who attempts to win the film rights of her Mary Poppins books, it gave me the opportunity to rewatch the childhood favorite. In revisiting the delightful tale of the practically perfect nanny flown in on the east wind to save the emotionally stilted Banks' family with assistance from Bert, the local jack of all trades, I couldn't believe how remarkably well the picture held up and how, in many ways, it might actually play better for adults then kids. Where to begin: The Sherman Brothers witty and lyrical music carries the picture, and not just mainstay numbers but ones which I'd forgotten, which include "The Life I Lead" and the hilarious ditty sung by the stern looking bankers headed by craggily and heavily disguised Dick van Dyke. Julie Andrews is lovely in her screen debut and Oscar winning role and van Dyke is amusing, but unheralded supporting performances also abound: Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice in fine juvenile performances as the Banks children, David Tominlinson and Glynis Johns spot on as the parents, and even further down the credit rung we have great fun with Hermione Baddeley and Reta Shaw as the domestics, Arthur Treacher as the Constable, Reginald Owen as Admiral Boom, and Ed Wynn, hilarious as the laugh loving Uncle Albert. Additionally, there is Bill Walsh and Don Dagradi's droll screenplay and the wonderfully imperfect production design and animated meshings, all combining to form a marvelous film experience for all ages, the type of which isn't even dared attempted today.