Thursday, 28 January 2010

Just A Spoonful of…Mary Poppins

Months ago when I listed some of my favourite musical scenes I highlighted an under-loved gem from the underrated 1964 musical Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins is on the obvious levels a comedy about the clashes between Mary and everyone she meets but the [few] emotional juggernauts are what speak to me. When she shakes that snow globe and begins to sing that “lullaby” of sorts “Feed the Birds” represents my favourite moment of the film, as Julie croons and we see Jane Darwell in her last screen performance [a cameo] there’s that sense of contentment and satisfaction; childish but true.

Julie’s performance has become undervalued in recent times, I listed it as one of my favourite Best Actress – it’s a list of nepotism, not of skill – but that shouldn’t make you think that Julie isn’t acting here. It’s a copout to just say that she does all that is asked of her, she does, but it’s not that simple. Julie Andrews has a charm that does not come as easy as she makes it seems. On paper Mary Poppins could be silly, I certainly found to the books to be thus, but Julie Andrews is a star – not in the Elizabeth Taylor sense – but one nevertheless. And it is her star quality that makes Mary Poppins works.
She doesn’t work completely on her own though. I never was too enthralled with Dick Van Dyke’s Bert, and I often found myself forwarding through his solo numbers when I was younger, but upon recent viewing it’s not as a annoying as I remembered. Of course, he’s no Julie – but who is? The Banks are played wonderfully by David Tomlinson and especially Glynis John who lends a perceptible comedic timing that should not go unvalued. It is a pity she didn’t do more film work. Then, of course, the Banks children. It’s so simple to write them off, but they [Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber] lend a perfect sense of bewilderment, astonishment and wonder at seeing Mary’s theatrics, and the two of them along with Dick and Julie make us believe even the most dimensional things seem real.
Mary Poppins is light and fun, you could always try to find some hidden subtext and of course the aged theme of childhood remains true. I find it delightful that it earned a Best Picture nomination, even if some will look back with disdain. Mary Poppins is a wonderful film, and above all else it introduced the world to Maria Von Trapp – the singer. It’s #100.


CrazyCris said...

Underrated?! By whom?! Only by people who haven't seen this movie!!! I could watch it again, and again and again... come to think of it, I've seen it so many times I have no idea how many times I've seen it! :p

anahita said...

I LOVE mary poppins. I remember getting a little bored by it when I was little, mainly cos it was so long. but now I adore it, tis way better than sound of music. and feed the birds is amazing xx

Tom said...

This is the very first movie I have a memory of going to see. I was 4 years old.

I can see why it got so many Oscar nominations; it has so many messages in it and it's really touching.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

crazycris trust me, not everyone likes. don't ask me why.

anahita it is really long actually, but now it flies by.

tom and the use of special effects are especially impressive for the 60s. deserved its nominations indeed.