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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 24: "Mary Poppins"

(Originally published on 6/17/22)


Mary Poppins

Run time: 139 min.

Release Date: August 26, 1964.

Where/when I first saw it: Network television

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Monday afternoon

Disney and his team pulled out all the stops on this one, which comes on the heels of one of their most underwhelming projects (“The Sword in the Stone”), which showed just how much Walt had invested in this project and how little he put himself into the other. Of course, this was the culmination of 20 years of effort in trying to get the rights. Not since “Fantasia” had a Disney movie run over two hours, but both were passion projects for Walt to the highest degree.

It’s one of those films where there’s not much to be said about it that hasn’t already been said. The songs are timeless, the special effects advanced the artform at the time, the dance numbers are exquisite and the cast keeps you watching. Sure, Van Dyke’s awful version of a cockney accent is legendarily off (putting it politely), but he knows that as well as everyone else, so there’s no point in rubbing anyone’s face in it. It has its charm.

I guess I just don’t quite love it as much as everyone else mainly because there is something about this period of live-action Disney that just puts me off a bit; how lily-white and perfect it all is, how pristine and precious. I’m not sure what it is, but I feel detached from it. Perhaps because I’ve been sticking to the animated Disney movies for this project and I’m watching those in a different way (paying attention to the artistry of the animated form rather than human performances and attitudes). But you have to include “Poppins” in a year-long Disney binge-watching project like this, even if it’s just a few animated sequences. It’s tied to Walt’s legacy as much as Mickey Mouse and Snow White.

I guess there’s also that part of me now that cannot help but think og P.L. Travers’ reaction to the film. Although, the film “Saving Mr. Banks” would have you believe that Travers came around to liking the film and enjoyed the songs, her family says otherwise, that she went to her grave hating this film. That sticks in my mind when I watch this. I can’t help it (and, weird thing is, I still like “Saving Mr. Banks,” just not as a “true story”).

Anyway, despite my personal feelings, this remains an amazing technical achievement and one that deserves the lavish anniversary treatment the studio has been giving it ever since its release.


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