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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Fantasy > Musical > Literature > Live Action-Animation Mix > Mary Poppins - 50th Anniversary Edition (1964/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD + Digital Copy)

Mary Poppins - 50th Anniversary Edition (1964/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD + Digital Copy)

Picture: A-/B Sound: B/B- Extras: B/C Film: A-

There are not many Disney fans (or film fans for that matter) who do not know the name Mary Poppins. An all time classic that took a bit to get off the ground (no pun intended), as chronicled in the new Tom Hanks film Saving Mr. Banks, Mary Poppins has delighted the imaginations of both children and adults alike for over 50 years now.

The 1964 film was based on a P.L. Travers' book series that Walt Disney's children loved so that he decided to fund the project. Directed by Robert Stevenson, written by Don DaGradi & Bill Walsh, and produced by Disney himself, Mary Poppins starred Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in some of their most memorable roles. The film follows magical nanny Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) as she arrives in London to reunite, rekindle, and reinvigorate the love of a dysfunctional family. The film's framework was established by the novels, but was made complete by the music of the Sherman Bros.

Taking place at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries, Mary Poppins starts off by introducing the cold banker Mr. George Banks (David Tomlinson) and his oblivious suffragette wife, Winifred Banks (Glynis Johns). It seems their children have just run off their fourth nanny, as the children have become quite adept at going missing themselves. Returned by a constable, the children beg for their father's attention (asking him to repair their kite), but Mr. Banks dismisses the children's pleas and instead insists for a firm, disciplinarian nanny. The Banks children, Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber), make an ad of their own asking for a fun, kind hearted nanny; Mr. Banks, having none of that, tears up their ad and tosses it into the fire place.

The next day, a line of firm, cold looking nannies had formed at the Banks' door; oddly, however, a gust of wind pushes those women away and afloat that same gust a nanny named Mary Poppins arrives. The children and Mr. Banks are both in shock that the kind hearted nanny the children requested (even after burning the ad) had arrived. Mary reassures Mr. Banks that though kind, she believes in structure and discipline; using her own unique methods to bring order to any household.

While Mr. Banks ponders Mary Poppins arrival, she manages to employ herself and get to work; stating she will stay for a trial period of one week and decide from there. The children are instantly mesmerized by Mary as she pulls one item after another from her bottomless carpetbag and tidies the nursery with the snap of her fingers. The house has suddenly sprung to life and it is more than certain that things will never be the same.

Soon after Mary's arrival she takes the children to the park where they meet Bert (Dick Van Dyke), a charming cockney chimneysweep who is an old friend of Mary's. Bert had created some sidewalk chalk art, which then transported the lot into a magical countryside where they rode a carousel, joined a fox hunt, and even entered a horse race. Their adventure was ended once the rain arrived, washing away the drawing, and transporting them back to the real world. The children were soon nuzzled in their bed, asking Mary how long she would stay; answering simply until the winds change. The film goes onto to take the children, Mary, and Bert on a series of other adventures; frustrating Mr. Banks the entire way. In the end, it will take bit of magic, a spoonful of love, and some real life consequences to finally bring Mr. Banks back around; but if anyone can save this family and emotionally absent father, it is Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins is a fantastically magical tale that infuses music, animation, and live action into an already well written novel(s). Whereas some of the Disney live action films of yesteryear can feel hokey or outdated, Mary Poppins remains refreshing and timeless. On the surface the film may feel like a childish, family friendly feature (which it is), but deep down Walt Disney and his team took special care to reinforce the deeper meanings imparted by the original novel. Family first and living life to its fullest are overwhelming points made here, but Mary Popins does it in such a wonderfully shrouded manner that the take home message is enforced almost subconsciously. Here in its 50th Anniversary Edition the film looks better than ever without a moment of disappointment.

The Blu-ray is presented in a 1.66 X 1, MPEG-4, AVC Endcoded widescreen that looks cinematic. Not overly washed as to keep the film style intact, Mary Poppins boasts brilliant colors, fine detail, inky blacks, and an overall splendid viewing experience. Digitally restored the film looks amazing! Better than ever the level of detail throughout Mary Poppins revealed by this restoration will make even the most seasoned Poppins fan jaw drop. The sound did not impress me as much as the picture quality, but the 7.1 HD-Master Audio lossless track does a well enough job. The track was not nearly dynamic enough as it was a bit quieter than I had hoped for with the surrounds less than lively. The quality was crisp, clean, and clear, but lacked umph as most came from the front. The surrounds were utilized and musical numbers were solid, I just hoped for better range.

The DVD is mostly a downgrade of the Blu-ray release for those uninitiated into the wonders of Blu-ray.

Most extras are merely ported over from the 40th Anniversary Edition. The extras include the following:

  • Disney on Broadway

  • Back Stage Disney

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

  • Teaser Trailer

  • TV Spots #1 & #2

  • 1966 Reissue Trailer

  • 1973 Reissue Trailers (1 & 2)

  • Magical Reunion with Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, and Richard Sherman

  • Deleted Song: Chimpanzoo

  • Disney Song Selection

  • Becoming Mr. Sherman [HD]

    • Jason Schwartzman hosts a short segment on his character in Disney's film Saving Mr Banks

  • Mary-Oke [HD]

    • A cute Mary Poppins Karaoke/Sing-A-Long feature

    - Michael P. Dougherty II


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