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Mary Poppins (1964)

  Directed by: Robert Stevenson
Written by: Don Da Gradi, P.L. Travers, Bill Walsh
Starring: Julie Andrews, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber, Glynis Johns, David Tomlinson, Dick Van Dyke
Links: Mary Poppins on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Children's

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Mary Poppins (1964) is also mentioned in mino's review of Erotic Ghost Story (1987) and timchuma's review of For Your Height Only (1979).

"Practically perfect in every way" - a review by mino

Mary Poppins is one of those very rare kid's movies which, rather than ‘growing out of’, you ‘grow into’. Many a kid has grown up watching Mary Poppins over and over again; should you have the chance to go back and watch it again as an adult, you sort of think ‘well, this is going to be terrible’.

But it's not. It's not at all. Mary Poppins is just as entertaining when you watch it as an adult and, for a movie made in 1964, it holds up astoundingly well. Possibly, this is because it's actually set in 1910, a world far enough removed from 1964 that another 40 years isn't likely to make much difference; just as much, though, I think it's just because it's a remarkably funny, fun, whimsical, well-acted, delightful little movie with an absolutely wonderful soundtrack. Films of this quality are going to hold up no matter what.

For the two of you who have never seen it, Mary Poppins herself is a magical nanny who turns up at the home of Jane and Michael Banks, two young English troublemakers who go through nannies at an alarming rate because of their disobedience and impertinence. Living under the rule of a rather tyrannical banker father, the kids want nothing more than a nanny who will be a lot more fun than her prim and proper predecessors (or, in the words of Jane and Michael's song, ‘If you want this choice position / Have a cheery disposition / Rosy cheeks, no warts! / Play games, all sorts.’). Mary takes the kids on all sorts of adventures and, of course, teaches not only the children, but also their gruff and distant father, all sorts of lessons.

The first thing to note about Mary Poppins is how beautifully cast it is. Julie Andrews, of course, is absolutely sublime as Mary herself. She balances ‘fastidious and proper’ absolutely perfectly with ‘cheeky and impish’, in precisely the right proportions. It's hard to overstate how perfect Andrews is for this role; it's as if she was born to play it, and she clearly has a ball doing so.

The Banks family, Mary's new employers, are equally great. Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber are two of the more lovable-but-not-annoying child actors in any film of the last 40 years, Garber in particular being not just an adorable little urchin but also a talented young actor. Glynis Johns is wonderfully daffy as the secret suffragette mother, Winifred. Most impressive, though, is David Tomlinson as George, the father. George is an insufferable old fool, but Tomlinson makes him one of the most lovable insufferable old fools on the planet, creating a very sympathetic character who just happens to have his priorities all wrong, which makes him all the more lovable when he gets them right.

Special mention, though, has to go to the incomparable Dick Van Dyke, who takes a dual role both as Mr Banks' elderly boss but also, more importantly, Bert, the jack-of-all-trades man-about-town who is Mary's comic foil. Bert works as a chimneysweep, a busker, a street-screever, and any number of other jobs, and Van Dyke is great, making Bert one of the truly classic characters of children's cinema.

There's so much more to love about Mary Poppins, though. The songs are both clever and catchy, the gags really quite funny, and the design and cinematography combine to make one of the most colourful, fun, and generally startling-looking films ever. As for the animation — Mary Poppins being one of the earlier films to do the ‘people and animated characters interacting’ thing, and one of the more successful, along with Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) — well, it's quite amazing. Forty years old, crude hand-drawn animation without any computers or anything to help out, and the interaction between the actors and the animations is astoundingly good. Disney certainly knew their stuff back then, that's for sure. In fact, the special effects in general are noteworthy, too. They're nothing too spectacular — some wire work, some optical tricks, and other silliness like that — but they're so cleverly done that they're totally believable, something which only serves to make the fabulous world of Mary Poppins even more wonderful.

As a parent, I can testify that kids nowadays — at least mine, anyway — are still as enamoured with Mary Poppins as they were all that time ago. As a film-lover, I can testify that even adults should find Mary Poppins one of the more entertaining filmgoing experiences around, even after all these years.

mino gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 18 Jun 2004

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Reader comments

  1. my name is nicholas knapp.Bill Walsh is my grandfather.i never really knew him,he died before i was born.and also my grandmother dishoned my mother wen she was 14.her name is Magnolia Walsh currently know as Magnolia Fishman.Hal Fishmans wife.i dont even know waht she looks Mothers name is Jamie Walsh Knapp..Hvae a nice day.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Nicholas Knapp on Wed 23 Mar 2005 13:24 #

  2. Any suggestions as to what other movies I should try if my kids LOVE Mary Poppins?

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from jennifer on Sat 08 Apr 2006 12:10 #

  3. i love this movie too and i am 24 and i am trying to find collector things and i can't find any

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from danielle on Thu 04 May 2006 14:44 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (3 ratings)

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