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Still shot from the movie: Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) is pretty, punctual and "practically perfect in every way." When she takes the position of nanny at the Banks household, the often-neglected children (Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber) are at first a little unsure of her unusual ways.

Overall Grade: A-
Violence: B
Sexual Content: A-
Language: A-
Drugs/Alcohol: B+
Release Date: 11 Sep 1964
Run Time: 140
MPAA Rating: G

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In-Depth Review

George Banks (David Tomlinson) is a diligent employee. But as breadwinner and lord of his British household, he has very little time for parenting. Marching with the women suffragettes, his wife Winifred (Glynis Johns) is equally preoccupied with issues outside of the home. Its no wonder then that the harried couple is quite put out when yet another disenchanted nanny (Elsa Lanchester) turns in her resignation notice.

However, a stroke of good luck comes their way when Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) alights on their front stoop. Pretty, punctual and "practically perfect in every way", she's a godsend for the whole family. As the new nursemaid, she makes sure the children are trained, entertained and snuggly tucked in at the end of the day.

Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber) find Mary a radical change from the previous pinched-face caregivers they've had. Although she demands good manners and proper conduct, she is dedicated to taking the children on magical adventures. Along with her friend Bert (Dick Van Dyck), an ordinary jack-of-all-trades, they jump into sidewalk chalk drawings and ride on free-roaming carousel horses in scenes that showcase methods of early animation.

George, on the other hand, is baffled by Mary's effect on himself and his brood. While he can't quite put a finger on it, he definitely knows things have changed since she blew in. The cook is calmer, the maid is merrier and before long, even George---the epitome of a standoffish father---is taking his kids into work at the bank.

Fortunately, Mary Poppins did more than perk up family relationships at the Banks' mansion. She also proved to be a piece of good fortune for Disney Studios who won 5 of 11 nominations at the Academy Awards the following year, including a Best Actress for the up-and-coming Andrews.

Brimming with musical numbers, the film is a highly romanticized portrayal of domestics, chimneysweeps and common laborers. Now, many years after its original release, the attitude toward female voters and the role of fathers may have changed, but Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is still undoubtedly a handy word to know when you're stumped for something to say.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

How did George and Winifred feel about their children? Were they negligent or preoccupied in their role as parents? What helped change their attitude?

How can appropriate humor help dispel an awkward situation?

How did the view the jobs of common laborers as compared to businessmen in this film? Which occupations are highlighted in movies now?

Video alternatives

Mary Poppins was Julie Andrew’s first film hit. The next year she was nominated for a Best Actress award for her role as a governess in The Sound of Music. She has also starred as the Queen of Genovia who transforms her gangly granddaughter into royalty in The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. Another unusual caregiver proves to be just the right medicine for an ailing family in Nanny McPhee.

Also watch for Saving Mr. Banks, a movie dramatizing the challenges involved in the making of Disney’s Mary Poppins.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition

Release Date: 10 December 2013

Mary Poppins releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack) in a 50th Anniversary Edition, on December 10, 2013.

DVD Notes: Mary Poppins: 40th Anniversary Edition

Release Date: 14 December 2004

Remastered and remixed for it’s 40th Anniversary Edition, the 2-disc DVD offers an all-new animated short hosted by Julie Andrews. The bonus film entitled The Cat That Looked at a King is based on a story from the original Mary Poppins series written by P.L. Traver and features the voices of Sarah Ferguson, Tracy Ullman and David Ogden Stiers.

Additionally, the disc set goes behind the scenes in Mary Poppins and reunites the talents of Andrews, Van Dyck and musical score writer Richard Sherman for a reminiscent look at the production of the film. A sing along section, a trivia game and a featurette focusing on the film’s special effect techniques are also some of the extras included in the release.

Home Video Notes: Mary Poppins: 45th Anniversary Edition

Release Date: 27 January 2009

Mary Poppins returns to DVD, this time in a 45th Anniversary Edition. And she has even more goodies packed in her magic carpetbag! These include an audio commentary by Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice and Richard Sherman, a making-of featurette, Pop-Up Fun Facts, a look at the film’s special effects, footage from Mary Poppins’ Gala Premiere, Dick Van Dyke’s make-up test and the original theatrical trailers. You can also gain a greater appreciation of the movie from Bob Crowley, its scenic and costume designer, as well as watch Chimpanzoo (a deleted song) and The Cat that Looked at a King (a story from P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins Opens A Door). Musically minded families are sure to enjoy the pop-up lyrics that will allow them to sing-along with the movies’ musical numbers and bonus materials provide a look at the score with comments from Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and Richard Sherman.

Backstage Disney offers a look at the adaptation of the movie into a Broadway Musical (Mary Poppins: From Page to Stage), a peek at the Broadway cast performing a song and dance routine (Step In Time) and a MP3 version of Step In Time (featuring Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee, stars of the Broadway production).

Audio tracks are available in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (English, French and Spanish), with subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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