Mary Poppins (1964) Poster

(1964)

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One for the ages
orthogonal621 December 2004
How good is Mary Poppins? I remember singing "Let's Go Fly a Kite" with my then four year old son when we first got it on a now-lost video. He is now a young man, and little brother is a teenager. I am going to buy the DVD for their children, who may not be born for ten more years. I'll watch it myself until then. It's that good. We all have opinions, and mine is that, in the long list of Disney classics and masterpieces, this one is at the top. It is the perfect combination of story, song, characters, actors, whimsy – you name it. I believe it is one of the best movies ever made in any genre.

Need proof? How many songs can you hum in the car or sing in the shower? Chim Chim Cher-ee; Spoonful of Sugar; Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (thank God for copy and paste); Let's Go Fly a Kite. What about songs that put a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye? Feed the Birds. Great composing, great fit to the story. And Julie Andrews is as good a singer as you will find.

More proof? What about delightful scenes? A tea party on the ceiling. The fox hunt on merry-go-round horses. Dancing on the rooftops of London.

Memorable characters? Bert, even with his horrible accent, is a blast. Old Mr. Dawes. Uncle Albert. Mrs. Banks, that independent woman (as long as it did not annoy Mr. Banks). Jane and Michael having the experience of a lifetime. And poor Mr. Banks, so concerned with being the lord of his castle but learning the important lessons in the nick of time. His illusion of control begins to unravel the moment that Poppins woman walked in the door, and he never figures out who she is and how she did it to him.

Neither do we, really. She is both the cause of much madness but the stability within it as the story moves along. It is one of Disney's greatest talents to craft movies and stories that operate on multiple levels. Children love dancing penguins and fireworks. Adults may as well but they can register the message here of what is truly important in life. Poppins has the answers. It is better we don't analyze who she is – and or course she never explains anything. The Banks family is just glad she was there for a while, and we should be glad that Walt Disney left us with this masterpiece.
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8/10
It's Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious!
Kristine7 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I don't think it's possible to meet someone who hasn't seen Mary Poppins, it's one of those necessary movies that you see during your childhood. It just lifted your mood with it's cheery songs, beautiful lead actress Julie Andrews and her lovely voice and was just a magical film. But does it stand the test of time, that as adults we could still watch it with that same feeling of being a child? Oh, yeah! I still watch Mary Poppins to this day, how could you resist this wonderful movie? The songs are fantastic, the whole movie is made wonderfully and has fun energetic characters, some with the worst accents of all time *cough* Dick Van Dyke *cough!*, but that adds much more laughter that is needed for this good time. Mary Poppins will melt it's way into your heart, I promise you.

We are introduced to the Banks family, headed by the cold and aloof George Banks and the loving but highly distracted Winifred. Jane and Michael draft their own advertisement asking for a fun, kind-hearted and caring nanny, but Mr. Banks tears up the paper and throws it in the fireplace. Unnoticed, the remains of the note float up the dark chimney. Mary Poppins floats down and enters the residence. As Mr. Banks puzzles, Mary Poppins employs herself and begins work, saying that she will stay for a trial period of one week, before deciding if she will take a permanent position. The children face surprises of their own: Mary possesses a bottomless carpetbag, and makes contents of the children's nursery come to life and tidy themselves by snapping their fingers. They continue on a magical journey with the "practically perfect in every way" nanny as their stuffy father learns how to love and the family reunites together.

Mary Poppins is a classic family film that I cannot wait to show my children one day. I still go crazy with energy when "Steppin' Time" comes on the screen, what a great dance number, so filled with life and gives you the best time. "Feed the birds" is one of the most beautiful songs put on film and can make the toughest convict cry like a baby. Julie Andrews is just too wonderful as Mary Poppins and deserved that Oscar rightfully. Dike Van Dyke may have one of the worst accents of all time, but during his scene with "love to laugh" he was just irresistible. He brought such a wonderful time to the film, both he and Julie had great chemistry, they were so charming together. I really have no complaints about the movie, it is a perfect family film that any would could fall in love with at any age. Plus it's against the law if you do not let your children watch Mary Poppins, it's a necessary children's movie.

10/10
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An auspicious film debut for Julie Andrews
dweck8 December 1998
Julie's film debut began the world's love affair with her--and what a marvelous vehicle for doing so. Julie appears here in fine voice and is radiantly beautiful.

The performance is more than deserving of the Oscar, especially considering that she had to act to blue screens and objects/characters from within her imagination. No easy task, certainly.

I also love the way Julie, as Mary, refuses to acknowledge the free-for-all that is going on around her. She simply pushes her hair primly back in place and presses on, despite the dancing chimney sweeps and giggling uncles that surround her. "I never explain anything," she blithely comments.

The score is one of my favorites in all the Disney canon. The Sherman brothers outdid themselves with "Stay Awake," one of the most under-appreciated lullabys ever written, and the hauntingly winsome "Feed the Birds."

The Disney animators have created a visual feast as bottomless and surprising as Mary Poppins' carpetbag. The Peter Ellenshaw matte shots are breathtaking. My favorite visual moments? Bert and Mary's live-action reflections in a pond are eddied by a family of cartoon geese. I also love when Bert, Mary, and the children ascend a staircase constructed only of chimney smoke. Brilliant!

There are a few drawbacks: The film's a little over-long, especially in the final third where Mary's but an afterthought in all the plot resolution. In addition, Van Dyke was an excellent choice for his singing and dancing (and popularity), but his cockney accent does grate after a while.

But all in all, this is a tour de force for all involved!
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Disney's Live/Animated Masterpiece Shines More Brightly than Ever!
Ben Burgraff (cariart)6 December 2004
"Mary Poppins" is one of that select group of films that can truly be called 'Classic', a project conceived in love and filled with so much child-like wonder that it will never grow old or 'out-of-date'. Certainly the crowning achievement of Walt Disney's remarkable career, both story-wise and technically, the film remains an unsurpassed achievement!

Based on P.L. Travers' tales of a magical nanny who arrives to bring families closer, the rights to the stories had been pursued by Disney since 1938, but Travers had seen what studios had done to other authors' works, and withheld her approval unless she could maintain some creative control. Years of negotiations only whetted Disney's desire to make a definitive, truly 'special' film, and by 1960, despite the box office failure of another fantasy-themed 'pet' project, "Darby O'Gill and the Little People", he was more confident than ever in the story's potential, bringing together a remarkable array of talent, including songwriting brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, production head Bill Walsh, and the brilliant artist Peter Ellenshaw to 'visualize' 1910 London through his matte paintings.

With Travers' grudging approval, casting began. While American stage and TV star Dick Van Dyke was an odd choice to play a Cockney chimneysweep, he was a gifted mime and physical comedian, and had such a wholesome exuberance that Disney knew British audiences would forgive his shaky accent. Popular British actors Glynis Johns and David Tomlinson would play the preoccupied parents, with Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber (from "The Three Lives of Thomasina") as the neglected children. Veteran stars Ed Wynn, Elsa Lanchester, Reginald Owen, Arthur Treacher, and Jane Darwell (as the Bird Woman, in her last screen appearance), headed the strong supporting cast.

But it was the casting of Julie Andrews, in her first film, as Mary Poppins, that truly 'made' the film! Passed over by Jack Warner for the movie version of her stage hit, "My Fair Lady" (he opted for Audrey Hepburn), Disney caught her performance in "Camelot" on Broadway, knew, instantly, that she was the right 'Mary', and approached her for the role. "But I'm pregnant," she told him. "No problem," he replied. "I'll wait!"

And thus a Classic was born!

A multiple 1964 Oscar winner (including 'Best Actress' for Andrews, who got to share the stage with her "Lady" costar, Rex Harrison, who won 'Best Actor'), the film was a major hit, worldwide, and quickly achieved the legendary status it holds today.

With songs both silly and sublime, seamless intermeshing of live performers and animation as only the Disney studio, at that time, was capable of, and the undeniable magnetism of Andrews and Van Dyke, it is nearly impossible NOT to like "Mary Poppins"!
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9/10
re: one of those magic things
billsav5723 December 2004
It's hard for me to explain the connection I feel with this film ... I was 7 when it came out, saw it twice in the theaters at the time, and of course have seen it over and over since then. I'm going to get the 40th anniversary DVD soon. You can argue about Dick Van Dyke playing an Englishman, about Julie Andrews being too sweet and young compared to the character in literature, about the fact that the whole thing was obviously shot on a soundstage. But just imagine being 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 or anywhere near there, and not getting out of your small town in the rust belt of the U.S. except maybe a few times a year on holidays, and you can imagine what seeing this magical, albeit Disneyfied, look at another world must have been like. Every time I see it, I think back to the beautiful old movie theater in which I saw it (a block away from the Catholic school I then attended, no less), to getting my mother to buy a certain box of cereal so I could get the Mary Poppins prize inside, to gathering on weekends with cousins to listen to the soundtrack and try to dance like Bert. I've been to London many times since then, but funny enough, as much as the great city has to offer, I've never been able to find that magical place I saw 40 years ago.
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9/10
Brilliant metaphors that inspire the imagination!!
gue_gg_ila6 February 2005
I was a big fan of this movie when I was 6, loved it, visually it is fantastic and the music is just too beautiful. It's great fun, and its packed with amazing performances especially from the multi-talented and beautiful Julie Andrews.

I saw it again recently, may be I have more capacity to understand the double sense of things now and found out that this film has so many subliminal great messages that are enriching for the mind and soul...As a little girl I never cried on this film, but it has got so many reasons to cry for(I'm crying now)because it truly is beautiful. The film can be good for children because it actually can stimulate the imagination, and the creativity of a kid, I for example tried to arrange my room by making sounds with my fingers at some point of my life! Still the film contains some messages that can be quite interesting and useful for any other person of any other age.

SPOILERS***** Besides it contains some great effects, especially when you consider the time it was done(1964). Great dancing sequences, and especially those gorgeous songs(each one of them great). The animation part is brilliant, takes a genius to make that and coordinate those dancing penguins with the Bert character.

And I think that all the words that I could possibly say about this film are over, except tat this film is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Mary Poppins, practically perfectly in every way! A MUST SEE FILM!!
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10/10
A unique achievement, filled out on the DVD
sryder@judson-il.edu23 December 2004
Despite the technical achievements and the outstanding musical score, it is the performances that keep the film alive for me. Julie Andrews was right on target when she received her academy award and thanked Jack Warner for turning her down in the film version of My Fair Lady. She conveys both dignity and warmth as Mary. Dick van Dyke had the chance of a lifetime to demonstrate the breadth of his talents, especially his dancing, which could not be fully exploited on his TV series. Disney gave real depth to the film through his use of Elsa Lanchester, Arthur Treacher, Reginald Owen, Ed Wynn and (especially) Jane Darwell (who is cited in the IMDb biography as best known for her cameo portrayal of the Bird Lady, despite her 1940 Academy Award for one of the great all-time performances in Grapes of Wrath). I computed the ages of the five as reaching 418 years when the film was released; their film careers covered 193 combined years, with stage careers going back as far as 1905. Disney's casting of these, as well as a group of accomplished British actors of stage and film demonstrated what should be meant by "supporting cast": it gave strong support against which Andrews and Van Dyke could perform without being under to carry the entire film. Finally: If someone wants to appreciate the care that went into the film, s/he should purchase the new 40th anniversary DVD. Viewing the interviews and other documents enabled me to increase my already great enjoyment. They do not "murder to dissect"; quite the contrary.
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10/10
"Mary Poppins" is only pretending to be a children's film
timboytx11 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Although I loved this film upon first seeing it at the theater in '64, it wasn't until I was an adult that I began to appreciate and be amazed by the sophistication of the writing. Sure, the special effects and the music and the visuals are what grab the attention, but the script itself and the lyrics offer just as much brilliance. I would even assert that this isn't a "children's film" at all, but a film aimed at adults under the guise of a kids' film. And that type of subversion is exactly what you'd expect from Mary Poppins. Her method from day one is to use reverse psychology on anyone she is trying to manipulate--in a good sense, of course. She teaches the children to give money to the poor by suggesting they "feed the birds". She gets them to fall asleep by sweetly singing "Stay Awake". She gets Mr. Banks to take the kids with him to work by acting as if it was his idea, and complimenting him for thinking of it. (A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.)

The film's main character, dramatically speaking, is not Mary, nor the children. It is the father, George Banks. After all, he is the one who makes the film's primary transformation brought about by the presence of Mary Poppins. She is there to show him that his children are more important than money or his job, and once she has completed her task, she moves on. And that is the sort of message that the adults in the audience need to learn, not the children.

As further evidence that this is a film aimed at adults, take a look at this line from "Jolly Holiday", when Mary sings to Bert:

"You'd never think of pressing your advantage. Forbearance is the hallmark of your creed. A lady needn't fear when you are near. Your sweet gentility is crystal clear!"

In these days when studios tend to pander to young audiences, desperate not to add anything that might bore them or be over their heads, it's refreshing to return to the days when films like "Mary Poppins" trusted in the integrity of its material.
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10/10
Should have made AFI's top 100
reignsong25 August 2000
AFI blew it by omitting "Mary Poppins" from its 100 greatest American films. It's pure cinema, with state of the art special effects for its time. But the effects serve a lovely story, well told and acted, with charming song and dance numbers. The overture, underscoring Poppins's flight over London, is classic: worth the price of admission or rental; maybe the best overture ever, on screen or stage. I was 3 when the film debuted; I thought I'd die if I never got to see it again.
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9/10
Classic film that works on all age levels
Foux_du_Fafa15 September 2005
Based on some books by P.L. Travers, "Mary Poppins" tells the story of the Banks family, who are live in Edwardian London. The parents (David Tomlinson and Glynnis Johns) don't take much notice of their children Jane and Michael, and it is only until a mysterious woman named Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) appears from the sky that things begin to change. She works wonders on the family, in particular taking the children on a number of adventures with Bert (Dick van Dyke), the local Jack-of-all-trades.

Everybody has seen this movie, but I'll review it anyway; it is a bona-fide classic, not because it is an old film, but because it has endured. The film isn't a dirty picture and will delight the little ones, yet underneath this, there is something for adults to obtain. Just as their kids will, they will love the songs, be blown away by the novelty animated segment and will marvel at the special effects, which hold up even in today's CGI obsessed world. Yet adults will also be able to unlock the endearing layers of the story, which are simultaneously simple and complex and thoroughly beautiful. This film comes recommended time and time again, one of the great features of owning the 40th Anniversary Edition DVD that has a beautifully restored image and lovely bonus features such as a "making of" documentary, original theatrical trailers and vintage footage from the premiere.

Possible alternatives: Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), Alice in Wonderland (1951), My Fair Lady (1964)
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