Monday, December 09, 2013

Mary Poppins Blowout

Even though the actual date isn't until August 2014, the 50th Anniversary Celebration of "Mary Poppins" has already begun, due largely in part to the upcoming release of "Saving Mr. Banks," a new Disney movie starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson that chronicles the difficulties of bringing the P.L. Travers book to the screen.

It is hard to believe when watching it today that such a movie could have had so much turmoil going on behind the scenes; just a testament to Walt's tenacity and ability to make things happen. I was able to get a sneak preview of the Blu-ray 50th Anniversary Edition (being released tomorrow), and it really was a magical experience.

The clarity and the detail are mindblowing. Not that everyone needs to see the pores on Dick Van Dyke's face, but from the very beginning of the film, they are right there on your television set for you to count. Once Julie Andrews floats onto Cherry Tree Lane though, the picture is definitely hers.

Andrews is absolute perfection as the straitlaced-acting Nanny who is able to "save Mr. Banks" from missing his children's childhoods. Andrews' face gives just enough of a smirk to let the audience know that she is anything but straitlaced, and is just as much of a softy as the rest of us.

The chemistry between Andrews and Van Dyke is sublime. Without overdoing the romance angle, Walt was able to let his stars display an affection for each other through the "Jolly Holiday" musical number.

On the new Blu-ray release, the only time that the clarity of the picture suffers at all would be during the animated sequences and any other footage that utilized the sodium vapor process. Since both of these types of effects required a re-shooting of the original footage in order to combine them, it is understandable that a small loss of detail would occur. Based on some of the extras on the Blu-ray though, it would appear that the Disney Corporation still has much (if not all) of the original live-action footage; this would lead me to believe that through the magic of digital, the film quality could be improved by re-combining the pieces together. Still, a lot of time and expense that isn't really required for a practically-perfect film!

The extras on the Blu-ray also include rehearsal footage and some of the special effects shots for the incredibly complicated (but wonderful to watch!) "Step In Time" musical number.

A number of props and artifacts from the film have hit the auction block, including this background matte for the "Jolly Holiday" sequence:

Bert's coat:

Mary's bottomless carpetbag:

If you're in Chicago between now and May 4, 2014, be sure to visit the Museum of Science and Industry, as it features a special Mary Poppins display within the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives Exhibit.

Some of the artifacts from the film that you can see include:
• Mary Poppins’ snow globe, traveling costume and carpet bag
• Sketches of various costumes worn in Mary Poppins
• Sheet music from the film and other Disney classics
• Film clips and interviews with the movie’s creators
• Two interactive Disney jukeboxes that allow you to select popular musical hits

Exactly one month ago today, Dick Van Dyke (Bert), Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks), and Richard Sherman (music & lyrics) attended the red carpet event at the TCL Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman's) to celebrate the 50th Anniversary Commemoration Screening of "Mary Poppins," which was part of the AFI (American Film Institute) Fest.

Dick Van Dyke and Richard Sherman:

Karen Dotrice:

Arlene Silver and her husband Dick Van Dyke pose with Richard Sherman and his wife Elizabeth Gluck:

Kathryn Beaumont, the voice and live-action reference for Disney's "Alice in Wonderland":

Mallory Lewis, and Lamb Chop. Mallory took over duties for her mother, the legendary Shari Lewis, after she passed away in 1998.

I've always felt that a Mary Poppins attraction at Disneyland would be fantastic. Imagine getting strapped onto a carousel horse that took you through the magical scenery of the film. Until that happens, I'll settle for running into Mary. A cherished photo from my 40th Birthday (which was more years ago than I care to acknowledge!):

This little specialty number could be seen at the park back in 2009:

See, Mary really does know how to kick up her feet and have a good time!

I hope you get a chance to see the film on Blu-ray; it is just as charming as I remembered it, and with the advancement of age, it has actually become a lot more touching, as some of the themes I didn't "get" as a kid are more meaningful now. You'll definitely want to "feed the birds" once you've watched it.

Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more "Mary Poppins" photos on my Disney movie web page.


Anonymous said...

I agree. I didn't care much for the film as a kid, but when my young ones came old enough, I really enjoyed it at last.

Great post, makes me want to go see it again.

Thank you, Dave.


PsySocDisney said...

The blu-ray is on my Christmas list this year!! Just yesterday I came across the Mary Poppins album that my mom listened to as a kid, and later played for me as a kid growing up. It's definitely in my top 3 Disney films, although I am in the minority that didn't quite care for the Broadway musical adaptation. We took my mom to see it nevertheless :) Thanks for the lovely post today!

K. Martinez said...

The Blu-ray should arrive at my address tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it as I am into seeing Saving Mr. Banks.

I remember seeing Mary Poppins when it premiered at my local theater back in 1964. Afterwards, my parents bought us the Mary Poppins album and my sisters and I played that album to death. We loved it.

Mary Poppins is right up there with Pinocchio and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for me. Walt Disney at his best.

Very nice post today. Thanks, Dave.

PsySocDisney -

I haven't seen the stage adaptation yet, but wanted to. Unless it comes to San Francisco, I probably won't go see it.

Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Dave, I'm with you on the Mary Poppins ride! It's time Disney figured out there needs to be some kind of Jolly Holiday 'round there!

Thanks so much for this post, Mary Poppins is my very favorite person, and to me, she IS perfect in every way. I knew what I'd be when I grew up, and what do you know, I became a nanny and a teacher.

Wonderful to see the items on exhibit in Chicago, since I'll likely never get there to see them myself.

Daveland said...

PsySoc & Ken: You brought back memories of my LP also; I wore that record out! As for the stage show; I would have a difficult time seeing anyone but Julie Andrews in the lead role. I have seen footage of some of the production numbers, and while they look spectacular, it is just hard to live up to the movie.