In Edwardian London a magical nanny teaches two slightly naughty children to make life enjoyable for themselves and others.
The stage version is packing them in down the West End, Mary Poppins is finally dusting off its heritage as TV schedule filler and reminding audiences, just in time for its 40th anniversary, why itís one of Disneyís greats. As the winner of five Oscars and the film that gave Julie Andrews her on-screen debut, this shouldnít really need much of a fanfare, but one too many jokes about Dick Van Dyke's dire Cawk-nee accent can drag a movie down.
The exploits of novelist P. L. Travers' nanny sparkle thanks to the Sherman brothers' songs (from the haunting Feed The Birds to the rousing supercalifragilisticexpialidocious) and multi-talented leads. Poppinsí arrival from the clouds to shape up the lives of the Banks family is still magical, and the animated sequence so hated by Travers remains a real winner with ankle-biters. But the film's also overlong and drags both at the beginning (it's more than 20 minutes before Andrews shows up) and the end.
Released: 07 March 2005
While Poppins isn’t new to DVD, most of this ‘40th Anniversary Edition’ material certainly is. Plenty of deleted and original material has been dug up for a more adult-orientated edition, including several songs and elements of the score that didn’t make it. The archive material on show, including make-up tests and blue-screen work, is incredible, even if it’s confusingly packaged in several different ‘making of’ documentaries. The best moments come via the reminiscences of the major players. Van Dyke fully acknowledges his problems in mastering the accent and the Shermans detail their battles with Travers, who didn’t understand why they couldn’t just use the lovely Greensleeves for the score. There’s also footage from the premiere, games, stills, the original introduction by Julie Andrews and a new part-animated short The Cat That Looked At The King, in which Andrews is joined by Duchess Of York Sarah Ferguson, cast, perhaps ironically, as the voice of the Queen.
Completists may prefer to view it in its entirety, but watch it on DVD and make judicious use of the 'skip' button and with a little home editing you can edge this movie up to the five-star rating it could so easily have earned.
Reviewed by Emma Cochrane