on February 19, 2014
MARY POPPINS [1964/2013] [50th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy] Walt Disney’s Crowning Achievement! Celebrate The 50th Anniversary Of A Disney Classic!
‘Mary Poppins’ was released on 27th August, 1964 to universal acclaim. Released from the Walt Disney Vault in celebration of its 50th Anniversary Edition, this beloved classic shines like never before on Blu-ray with an all-new digital restoration. ‘Mary Poppins’ is a film experience your family will enjoy over and over again. “Practically Perfect In Every Way” Mary Poppins flies out of the windy London skies and into the home of two mischievous children. With the help of a carefree chimney sweep named Bert [Dick Van Dyke], the spirited nanny turns every chore into a game and every day into a “Jolly Holiday.” Share the music; share the magic, share the joy of ‘Mary Poppins’ with a whole new generation for the first time on Disney Blu-ray.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 1965 Academy Awards®: Win: Best Actress in a Leading Role for Dame Julie Andrews. Win: Best Film Editing for Cotton Warburton. Win: Best Visual Effects for Eustace Lycett, Hamilton Luske and Peter Ellenshaw. Win: Best Original Song "Chim Chim Cher-ee" for Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Win: Best Score for Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman. Nominated: Best Picture for Walt Disney and Bill Walsh. Nominated: Best Director for Robert Stevenson. Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay for Don DaGradi and Bill Walsh. Nominated: Best Cinematography in Color for Edward Colman. Nominated: Best Art Direction in Color for Carroll Clark, Emile Kuri, Hal Gausman and William H. Tuntke. Nominated: Best Costume Design in Color for Tony Walton. Nominated: Best Sound Mixing for Robert O. Cook. Nominated: Best Adaptation or Treatment Score for Irwin Kostal. 1965 Golden Globe® Awards: Win: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical or Comedy for Dame Julie Andrews. Nominated: Best Motion Picture in a Musical or Comedy for Bill Walsh, Robert Stevenson and Walt Disney. Nominated: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical or Comedy for Dick Van Dyke. Nominated: Best Original Score for Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman. 1965 Grammy Awards: Win: Best Recording for Children for David Tomlinson, Dame Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Ed Wynn, Glynis Johns, Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Win: Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Show for Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. 1965 New York Film Critics Circle: Nominated: Best Actress for Dame Julie Andrews. 1965 Directors Guild of America Award: Nominated: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for Robert Stevenson. 1965 Writers Guild of America Award: Win: Best Written American Musical for Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." ‘Mary Poppins’ is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time and Walt Disney's "crowning achievement". It was the only film of Disney's to garner a "Best Picture" nomination at the Oscars in his lifetime.
Cast: Dame Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Hermione Baddeley, Reta Shaw, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber, Elsa Lanchester, Arthur Treacher, Reginald Owen, Ed Wynn, Jane Darwell, Arthur Malet, James Logan, Don Barclay, Alma Lawton, Marjorie Eaton, Marjorie Bennett, Andrew (Dog) (uncredited), Frank Baker (uncredited), Robert Banas (uncredited), Marc Breaux (voice) Art Bucaro (uncredited), Daws Butler (voice) (uncredited), Cyril Delevanti (uncredited), George DeNormand (uncredited), Harvey Evans (uncredited), Paul Frees (voice) (uncredited), Bill Lee (voice) (uncredited), Junius Matthews (voice) (uncredited), Sean McClory (voice) (uncredited), Dal McKennon (voice) (uncredited), Alan Napier (voice) (uncredited), Marni Nixon (voice) (uncredited), J. Pat O'Malley (voice) (uncredited), George Pelling (voice) (uncredited), Thurl Ravenscroft (voice) (uncredited), Richard M. Sherman (voice) (uncredited) and Ginny Tyler (voice) (uncredited)
Director: Robert Stevenson
Producers: Bill Walsh and Walt Disney
Screenplay: Bill Walsh, Don DaGradi and P.L. Travers (based on the "Mary Poppins" books)
Composer: Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
Cinematography: Edward Colman
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 5.1 Dolby Digital, English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo [Original Theatrical Mix], French: 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Running Time: 139 minutes
Region: Blu-ray: All Regions and DVD: NTSC
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: “Wind's in the east, mist comin' in. Like something is brewin,' about to begin. Can't put me finger on what lies in store. But I feel what's to happen, all happened before.”
Adapted from a series of books by P.L. Travers, “Mary Poppins” was one of the last projects personally supervised by Walt Disney. Directed by Robert Stevenson, written by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, and with music and lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman, this musical is a fantastical, comedic romp about a magical English Nanny who flies into a needful family's life when the wind changes.
Practically perfect in every way, Mary Poppins [Dame Julie Andrews], arrives in London to help the Banks family. Children Michael and Jane are mischievous terrors who have gone through six nannies in the last four months. Worse, they have no real relationship with their overly stuffy and strict father, Mr. Banks [David Tomlinson]. With the assistance of her chimney sweep / street artist friend, Bert [Dick Van Dyke], Mary Poppins introduces Michael and Jane to a wondrous world where laughing makes you float, where you can jump into an animated world via sidewalk art, and where chimney sweeps perform elaborate dance numbers on rooftops.
As Mary Poppins changes the world and people around her, Mr. Banks fights to stay stuck in his stuffy ways. Englishmen and bankers must be formal and precise, but Mary Poppins' silly words and infectious spirit slowly breaks down the father, allowing him to see the joys in fully engaging in the lives of his children. A classic film that combines just about every technology innovation developed at Walt Disney Studios... where should we begin our analysis today?
I don't know about you, but simply hearing the 'Mary Poppins' overture on this Blu-ray's main menu instantly makes me feel like a child again. Memories sprang up of tuning in the 'Wonderful World of Disney' on Sunday evenings during the Michael Eisner era where he, in the tradition of Mr. Walt Disney, introduced us to a catalogue of wonderful family films. As a child, these television broadcasts, combined with theatrical re-releases, made the entire Walt Disney catalogue feel new.
Looking at the film today I saw so many new details that my younger-self had never noticed or remembered. As a self-diagnosed story addict, we could have a chat about how little actually happens in the film, or how, during the animated sequences, Michael and Jane simply disappear for great swaths of time to allow Dame Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke to (rightfully) take centre stage. But you know what, our modern conventions, our development process of "rules" could never allow for such a production to be made today.
'Mary Poppins' is a deceptively simple story on purpose. Mary Poppins comes to London and changes one family's life by helping a man become a better father, right? Many family films have a variation on this age old tale. But why? Because in simplicity, in a story anyone can follow, the filmmakers jam packed this classic film with so many genre-bending sequences. Tangents, all of them, designed to slap smiles on our faces as wide as Uncle Albert's and then, at the end, to pull our heart strings when Mary Poppins departs, having succeeded, but seemingly destined to face the world alone.
Basically, 'Mary Poppins' is the perfect film to watch with your family and friends of all ages. In addition to amazing children alike and allowing you to remember your own childhood days (assuming you've been a youngster sometime in the last 50 or so years), 'Mary Poppins' boasts a wonderful sense of innocence and nostalgia that represents, to me at least, a lot of what Walt Disney created in all of his films and theme parks. Walt Disney wanted us to experience the world, if only for a short time, the way most of us only can at the beginnings of our lives. He wanted us to marvel at the wonder of it all. He wanted us to believe in silly things, to laugh and enjoy whatever moments we can without worry. Mary Poppins might not be real? But the film 'Mary Poppins' is best described as a magical experience.
We should probably also talk about what a technological marvel the film truly is. Disney's team of filmmakers assembled a project that truly wouldn't be rivalled, visually, until 'Star Wars' blew audiences' minds. Shot entirely on sound stages, 'Mary Poppins' extends its universe with gorgeous matte paintings, similar to those used in 'Citizen Kane,' and numerous instances of optical compositing. To combine live action and animation, something Disney had been doing since his first silent version of 'Alice in Wonderland' which they used the Sodium Vapour Process, aka the "yellow screen process" to create a traveling matte so actors could dance around in just about any background. It was so amazing at the time 'Mary Poppins' premiered; it went on to win an Academy Award® in 1965. More than the visual effects, the animation itself is gorgeous and there are numerous practical effects with floating people and animatronic animals and that truly make one of the true technological marvels of 1960s Hollywood. By the way, watch all of the Credits to the very end, as you will hear the actual voice of P. L. Travers, who taped all the recordings and telling how the author of “Mary Poppins” should be portrayed on the film and P. L. Travers seems somewhat cordial during these particular excerpts from her recordings, but her rigidness can still be detected in the tone of her voice. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman Brothers, Walt Disney launches an all-out onslaught on P. L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn't budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as P. L. Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from Walt Disney’s grasp.
'Mary Poppins,' thanks to Walt Disney's collaboration with dozens of talented writers, singers, dancers, animators, actors and crew members, is everything Walt Disney did well... all in one project. For those reasons, and many more, it's not only an excellent film to watch and enjoy as often as you please, it's also a really important film for its breakthroughs and as a crowning masterpiece just before the death of one of Hollywood's most influential storytellers and that of course was the brilliant and prolific Walt Disney.
Blu-ray Video Quality – 'Mary Poppins' [50th Anniversary Edition] rides up the bannister onto Blu-ray with a resplendent 1080p encoded image, framed in the film's original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Digitally restored for high definition, 'Mary Poppins' looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray. Grain levels are intact and filmic. Colour reproduction is bright, bold, and accurate and especially the fanciful cartoon sequences. Contrast is dynamic, and black levels, like the bankers' suits and hats, are decidedly dark. But none of those highlights compare to overall image resolution and detail. Human faces and other clothing textures are impressive. You'll see individual hair follicles, wrinkles, and even makeup effects on the Senior Mr. Dawes. And finally, as far as I could tell, I didn't see a tuppence worth of dirt, scratches, or other damage. For minor quibbles to discuss, this is some minor ringing around characters in a few shots, and many special effects shots and composites, including the opening title sequence, suffer noticeable resolution drops and grain spikes. Understandable, given the compositing techniques of the day, is not a big problem, overall.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – 'Mary Poppins' dances and sings its way on to Blu-ray with a robust English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix. We have what appears to be an expanded version of the near-field mix created a decade ago. Dialogue and singing voices literally take centre stage and are always clear and vibrant. The film's score nicely films out the multichannel soundstage. And there are even a few wonderful moments, like exploding fireworks during "Step in Time," where all eight channels spring to life with active, almost-aggressive panning and thundered surround sound. In terms of "faults," it's a little quieter than some mixes, simply in terms of what levels I usually set my receiver, and the centre channel might be a little hot compared to the stereo mix. And as we would expect from similar era soundtracks, the dynamic range is a wee bit limited, but that's okay. Alternate audio tracks include 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes in English, French, or Spanish, as well as the "Original Theatrical Mix" in the 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo mix. I can't speak, personally, to how "original" this mix is, but the stereo track is also quite good and doesn't sound noticeably compressed and it even matrixes well in Dolby Pro Logic II. Post Script: The only thing that truly bothered me about this release was Menu and Sub Menu functionality. To access various language tracks and Special Features, must one endlessly hunt for choices along horizontal lists that aren't very functional. For example, if you click past the last item, you end up at the beginning and have to click all the way through again. Further, getting back to the Main Menu itself can be a bit of a chore. Surprising in this day and age, but if anyone from Walt Disney Home Entertainment is reading this; I would personally suggest avoiding this particular menu structure in favour of something more versatile.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Becoming Mr. Sherman [1080p] [14:00] Goes behind-the-scenes of director John Lee Hancock's ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ which stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as "Mary Poppins" author P. L. Travers. Actor Jason Schwartzman sits down with Mary Poppins' Richard M. Sherman to discuss the classic film's music and lyrics. Richard M. Sherman in turn shares his memories of ‘Mary Poppins' troubled pre-production and discusses Jason Schwartzman's portrayal of him in John Lee Hancock's film.
Special Feature: Mary-Oke [1080p] [Dolby Digital Stereo] [8:00] Sing along with "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," "Step in Time" and "Chim Chim Cher-ee" with this karaoke-style feature.
Classic DVD Bonus Features: The Blu-ray edition of ‘Mary Poppins’ also includes most every previously released bit of supplemental content from past releases. Extras include:
Audio Commentary: Commentary with composers and lyricists Richard and Robert Sherman and actors Dame Julie Andrews [Mary Poppins], Dick Van Dyke [Bert/Mr. Dawes Sr.] and Karen Dotrice [Jane Banks] here they all reminisce about the film and its production, commenting on the challenges they faced, the fun they had and the magic they helped make. The only downside is that all five participants aren't together in the same room; Dame Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke cosy up, but Karen Dotrice and are paired up and recorded separately, while Robert B. Sherman is by his lonesome. It's only a small complaint, though. The carefully compiled track is entertaining and engaging no matter who's speaking, and Dame Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are an absolute joy to listen to.
Special Feature: Disney on Broadway [480i] [55:00] Next up is a special documentary entitled: "Mary Poppins From Page to Stage," and here we have an overview of the film's Broadway adaptation with producer/President Disney Theatrical Productions Thomas Schumacher and performers Ashley Brown [Mary Poppins] and Gavin Lee [Bert] and a 7 minute feature, "Step in Time," with Broadway composer George Stiles.
Special Feature: Backstage Disney [480i] [113:00] Eight additional spoonfuls of supplemental sugar are also available with the following special documentaries entitled: "The Making of Mary Poppins;" vintage red carpet features "The Gala World Premiere" and "The Gala World Premiere Party;" kid-friendly special effects mini-doc "Movie Magic;" two "Deconstruction of a Scene" features "Jolly Holiday" and "Step in Time;" a "Dick Van Dyke Make-Up Test" and a "Publicity" roundup with original trailers, re-issue trailers and TV spots.
Special Feature: Music & More [1080p and 480i] [52:00] Four music-themed retrospective extras: "A Magical Musical Reunion Featuring Dame Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and Richard Sherman" [489i]. Deleted song "Chimpanzoo" [480i]. "Disney Song Selection" suite [1080p] [7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio], and a "Movie Sing-Along" track.
Special Feature: Bonus Short: The Cat that Looked at a King  [480i] [10:00] In this live-action/animated short, Dame Julie Andrews leads two children into a chalk drawing and tells them the story of a talking cat, a knowledge-obsessed king and the arrogant ruler's neglected queen. Contributors to this bonus short are as follows: Dame Julie Andrews, Dylan Cash, Olivia DeLaurentis, Sarah Ferguson (voice), David Ogden Stiers (voice) and Tracey Ullman (voice). Directed by Peter Schneider. Produced by Baker Bloodworth, Gerard DiNardi and Yukari Kiso. Screenplay by Shirley Pierce (story adaptation) and P.L. Travers (book "Mary Poppins Opens the Door"). Music by Mark Watters. Cinematography by Kenneth H. Wiatrak.
Finally, without question, Walt Disney's ‘Mary Poppins’ has remained a perennial firm favourite during the last half-century, thanks in large part to Dame Julie Andrews' career-defining performance and the Sherman Brothers' memorable songs. The film holds its own some fifty years past its prime, Dame Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are fantastic and fantastically fun, the songs are treasures in and of themselves, and the age of the production has little bearing on the end result. Fortunately, Disney's Blu-ray release is deserving of the title "definitive." The film holds its own some fifty years past its prime, Dame Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are fantastic and fantastically fun, the songs are treasures in and of themselves, and the age of the production has little bearing on the end result. Fortunately, Walt Disney's Blu-ray release is deserving of the title "definitive." This 50th Anniversary Blu-ray is anchored by a fantastic A/V presentation, and a generous selection of supplemental materials, there aren't any downsides or drawbacks to be found. Add ‘Mary Poppins’ to your Blu-ray collection post haste, as it is an honour to have such a beautiful magical film added to my ever increasing Walt Disney Blu-ray Collection and reacquaint yourself with the magic of one of Walt Disney's most treasured classics, live-action or otherwise. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom