140 Character Movie Review – #140RVW
Spoiler-free Movie Review of Mary Poppins:
To save time, I’m going to list all the problems with this movie first – because there really aren’t many:
- The actors are wearing more makeup than seems possible. It looks like they wandered in from a black & white silent film and the makeup artists didn’t know it was 1964.
- The whole “I Love To Laugh” sequence with the gifted character actor Ed Wynn, while very good, is wholly unnecessary and adds to the run time of an already long film. It’s an extra adventure that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the storyline. It should have been excised and the story would have been much more streamlined.
- When Jack Warner passed over Julie Andrews for the film version of My Fair Lady (which she had been starring on Broadway) in favor of Audrey Hepburn it freed her up for Walt Disney to cast her in her first film performance. That’s not the problem. The problem is that Andrews got the Best Actress Oscar over Hepburn, for which I call shenanigans. Andrews is masterful in this picture, but I don’t believe her performance was better than Hepburn’s. I wonder if Andrews got the edge because she did her own singing (Audrey was looped) or out of sympathy for not landing the Eliza Doolittle role she had made famous. Or maybe someone wanted to show up Jack Warner. In any event, it’s sort of like arguing between best Beatles albums, since they are both magnificent…
Of course, that I’m classifying the beating out Audrey for an award a problem shows just how deep I have to dig for any real criticism of the picture. (Note: I didn’t include Dick Van Dyke’s truly dreadful cockney accent because it’s one of those things that’s so bad it’s almost good. Not only that, it surely convinced filmmakers Albert Broccoli & Ken Hughes that he should just skip the English accent for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang entirely, so there’s that.) The story of bringing author P.L. Travers’s character to movie screens is famously if rather inaccurately chronicled in the feature film Saving Mr. Banks, but even before that picture it was interesting stuff, with Disney’s struggles with Travers being legendary. In the end, they both were probably right in their instincts; Travers was rightfully protective of her work if possibly too attached to recognize how much Disney’s influence could do for her character – Disney and company made a few major missteps with the characters while simultaneously adding immeasurable benefits in the adaptation. It really is a tremendous picture. The plot doesn’t need repeating, as probably everyone has seen the film at some point in the past 50 years, suffice it to say that it’s a classic story, based loosely on the first Mary Poppins novel with some of the second in there. You can’t call any 139 minute film streamlined and it certainly isn’t – it could probably do with a haircut, but at that time many pictures were longer. (Although there’s no official intermission in the movie, there probably should have been and many theaters took it upon themselves to add one anyway.) The acting is over the top as only 1960’s movies can be, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful. I find the whole picture lacking in subtlety and at times it’s hard to shake the impression that everyone is yelling at you. Your enjoyment of the film likely depends on your feelings on Julie Andrews’ performance. It’s a bit much for me personally, but unquestionably excellent and star-making. Van Dyke is simply wonderful in the picture – one of the all-time great physical actors. David Tomlinson turns in a great performance that works much better the older you are. The film as a whole possesses that quality of being layered and like many great films you take away different things at different times of your life. The music is a complete triumph, the high point in the career of the Sherman Brothers. No wonder they were asked to essentially make it twice with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Mary Poppins would prove to be one of the biggest hits of Walt Disney’s filmmaking career and is regarded by many as his greatest film. It is marvelous.
The Representation Test Score: B (9 pts)
|Main Cast||Julie Andrews Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke Bert/Mr. Dawes Senior (also as Navckid Keyd), David Tomlinson Mr. Banks, Glynis Johns Mrs. Banks|
|Release Date||Fri 11 Sep 1964 UTC|
|Genres||Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical|
|Plot||A magic nanny comes to work for a cold banker’s unhappy family.|
|Tagline||See It Again and Again with that Supercalifragilistic Music! [re-release Australia 1976]|
|Writers||Bill Walsh (screenplay) &, Don DaGradi (as Don Da Gradi) (screenplay) …|