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Mary Poppins (1964)

Film review: Mary Poppins (1964), directed by Robert Stevenson

There are a number of films “everyone” has seen that I haven’t. Mary Poppins was one of them, until very recently. There were a few bits I had seen here and there, but the whole movie, from start to finish? Nope, not at all.

Mary Poppins follows a well to do family in 1910s London. The two children are delinquents, like they normally are in films that require nannies, and in fact, their nanny has had enough of them always running off, so she quits. Their father, a serious banker (David Tomlinson) writes a very serious advertisement for The Times, but the children have written an advertisement too.

Because their one is from the heart and they want a kind, rosy-cheeked nanny who will play with them, their father reacts with a “bah, humbug!” and tears it up. Somehow, the torn up letter flies out of the chimney, and when they are going to interview applicants, all of them get blown away (literally) and only one remain: Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews).

Mary Poppins is exactly what the children asked for and exactly what they needed. She’s fun and playful, yet strict and no-nonsense, and she takes them on magical adventures along with the friendly neighbourhood chimney sweep (Dick Van Dyke, before he became Dr. Sloane and started solving crimes). A lot of cheerful singing and magic ensues until the family have united to become a “proper” family – none of that strict banking business or gallavanting away in Suffragette rallies when you have children to play with …

Both children seem to have a dodgy tooth that a dentist should’ve looked at (they’re brown, for goodness sake!) and Dick Van Dyke has the most hilarious accent I’ve ever heard. It’s meant to be Cockney, but it veers wildly from Australian to American and British. (He should take elocution lessons from Danny Dyer – just a thought.) As my associations with the man in question begin and end with Diagnosis: Murder (okay, yes, I did see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang once, but I was like ten at the time), it’s great to see him do something so completely different, and how well he does it! He’s funny and he’s charming – dreamy, even. Who’d a-thought it, eh? Julie Andrews is of course forever associated with The Sound of Music, so her singing and looking after children is no surprise. She’s a wonderful actress and a great singer.

It’s a harmless film, that’s all I can really say. It’s cute, it’s cheerful, it’s vintage Disney, and it makes you feel terribly good. Considering how much Hollywood enjoys doing re-makes, I wonder how come there hasn’t been a Mary Poppins re-make yet. Today’s CGI would make those penguins look historical, even though I have to say that the special effects in this film have aged surprisingly well. Not sure who would play the title characters, though – any suggestions? 🙂

4 out of 5 outdated values.

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel. Will get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted along the way.

4 thoughts on “Mary Poppins (1964)

  1. Maybe I should watch Mary Poppins after all. Haven’t done that yet, even though I have had periods where I’ve tried to watch all the Disney movies I didn’t see as a child 😛

  2. How could you not have seen this movie? It’s screened once a year in Australia. It was a massive favourite for kids here back in ‘my day’ because of the songs that were instant classics and the fantasy elements in the story.

  3. I lived in Sweden, only had two TV channels for the first ~9 years of my life, three until I was about 16 (when we got about 10) and never watched much TV growing up. That’s how. 😉 (I read books instead.) There are LOADS of both classic and modern Disney films I’ve never seen – Dumbo, Bambi, Sleeping Beauty, and Fantasia to name but a few. Trying to make amends now!

    Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

    The strange thing was, I was expecting to have a Christmas tree at the other end of the living room watching this. Can’t explain why!

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