Mary Poppins premiered 40 years ago today, on August 29, 1964.
This is a key film in the Disney canon on several counts. It's noted for the technologically innovative combination of live action and animation. Julie Andrews got an Oscar for her iconic performance as Mary Poppins. The movie was even nominated for Best Picture, the only Disney film so honored until 1991.
Mary Poppins makes a particularly interesting icon because of the subtext. The movie was made in the early days of the social upheavals of the 60s, including the birth of the modern feminist movement, and women becoming employed outside of the home and re-thinking in general the role of women in society. In this story (set during the early part of the century), they need a nanny to take care of the children exactly because Mom is busy being a suffragette.
Thus, Mary Poppins addresses a budding social concern: If the women folk are going out in the world, who's going to raise the children? Don't worry, a perfect magic nanny will appear to take up the slack.
Mostly, though, the film has staying power with me because of the music. This may be the best collection of original songs of any Disney movie. There's no denying "A Spoonful of Sugar." Surely they have no catchier or more joyous song in the Disney catalogue than my big childhood favorite "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."
Most of all, though, "Chim-Chim Cher-ee" may be the finest one song in a Disney movie ever. It's just a fine, moody piece of songwriting. Note that this has been very effectively covered by numerous jazz musicians over the years. It was particularly genius in the way that the tension is set between the happy-go-lucky lyric ("In all of this world there's no happier bloke") and the unmistakably melancholy tune.
Richard and Robert Sherman got Oscars for Best Musical Score and Best Song for "Chim-Chim Cher-ee." Very often, Oscar voters pick particularly dumb stuff for their music awards, but this was definitely one of the best couple of picks in their history.
Parents: If you don't have a DVD of Mary Poppins, or at least the soundtrack album, then you are probably technically guilty of child abuse. Why are you blowing money on Shrek (much less Shrek 2) if you don't have this much more memorable film?
Mary Poppins: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack (1964 Film)
Robert B. Sherman
Music from Disney, Release date: 30 January, 2001
$10.99 at Amazon.com, Usually ships within 24 hours
Mary Poppins (Disney Gold Classic Collection)
DVD from Disney Studios, Release date: 30 June, 2000
$26.99 at Amazon.com, THIS TITLE IS CURRENTLY NOT AVAILABLE. If you would like to purchase this title, we recommend that you occasionally check this page to see if it has become available.
Mary Poppins (Odyssey Classics)
P. L. Travers
Book from Odyssey Classics, Release date: 15 September, 1997
$6.00 at Amazon.com, Usually ships within 24 hours
Mary Poppins (40th Anniversary Edition)
DVD, Release date: 14 December, 2004
$20.99 at Amazon.com, Not yet released
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