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131 of 145 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disney's Live Masterpiece Shines More Brightly than Ever!, December 6, 2004
This review is from: Mary Poppins (40th Anniversary Edition) (DVD)
"Mary Poppins" is one of that select group of films that can truly be called 'Classic', a project conceived in love and filled with so much child-like wonder that it will never grow old or 'out-of-date'. Certainly the crowning achievement of Walt Disney's remarkable career, the "Mary Poppins" 40th Anniversary Special Edition is simply magnificent!

Based on P.L. Travers' tales of a magical nanny who arrives to bring families closer, the rights to the stories had been pursued by Disney since 1938, but Travers had seen what studios had done to other authors' works, and withheld her approval unless she could maintain some creative control. Years of negotiations only whetted Disney's desire to make a definitive, truly 'special' film, and by 1960, despite the box office failure of another fantasy-themed 'pet' project, "Darby O'Gill and the Little People", he was more confident than ever in the story's potential, bringing together a remarkable array of talent, including songwriting brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, production head Bill Walsh, and the brilliant artist Peter Ellenshaw to 'visualize' 1910 London through his matte paintings.

With Travers' grudging approval, casting began. While American stage and TV star Dick Van Dyke was an odd choice to play a Cockney chimneysweep, he was a gifted mime and physical comedian, and had such a wholesome exuberance that Disney knew British audiences would forgive his shaky accent. Popular British actors Glynis Johns and David Tomlinson would play the preoccupied parents, with Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber (from "The Three Lives of Thomasina") as the neglected children. Veteran stars Ed Wynn, Elsa Lanchester, Reginald Owen, Arthur Treacher, and Jane Darwell (as the Bird Woman, in her last screen appearance), headed the strong supporting cast.

But it was the casting of Julie Andrews, in her first film, as Mary Poppins, that truly 'made' the film! Passed over by Jack Warner for the movie version of her stage hit, "My Fair Lady" (he opted for Audrey Hepburn), Disney caught her performance in "Camelot" on Broadway, knew, instantly, that she was the right 'Mary', and approached her for the role. "But I'm pregnant," she told him. "No problem," he replied. "I'll wait!"

And thus a Classic was born!

A multiple 1964 Oscar winner (including 'Best Actress' for Andrews, who got to share the stage with her "Lady" costar, Rex Harrison, who won 'Best Actor'), the film was a major hit, worldwide, and quickly achieved the legendary status it holds today.

For it's 40th Anniversary, Disney's heirs have put together a spectacular package; along with the digitally-remastered film (it looks and sounds SUPERB!), a second disc of additional features includes a joyous reunion of stars Andrews and Van Dyke (who both seem ageless!); reminiscences of Robert Sherman, who sings a cute ditty cut from the final film; a fascinating 50-minute "behind-the-scenes" documentary about the production; featurettes on how the FX were achieved in several key scenes; and much, MUCH more! As the owner of several "Special Edition" Disney DVDs, I can honestly say, THIS is the BEST, yet!

With the holidays fast approaching, I can't think of a finer gift to give, or to get!
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 8, 2010 11:26:24 AM PST
It was Richard Sherman, not Robert who is featured in the Special Features selection.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2011 9:27:05 PM PST
DB Edwards says:
Not so. Both Brothers appear on the second disc, Richard from California and Robert from his home in England. But Richard has the larger speaking part.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2013 5:56:15 PM PDT
Ivanhoe says:
Was this not Ed Wynn's last film as well as Jane Darwell's?

Posted on Dec 4, 2013 1:46:28 PM PST
"Mary Poppins" was not Julie Andrews' first film -- it was "The Americanization of Emily". Disney asked MGM to hold back its release (it was rather "adult" for its time), and MGM acceded.

One of the greatest moments of the Oscar ceremonies came when Julie Andrews accepted her award: "I'd like to thank the man who made this possible -- Jack Warner."
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