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    Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Disney

    Nov 28 2013 03:15 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Walt Disney brought four decades of filmmaking expertise with him into the production of his studio’s ultimate masterpiece Mary Poppins. A film with limitless imagination and bubbling over with a vivacious score and brilliant performances, Mary Poppins plays as beautifully today with all of its wit and charm and melody as it did fifty years ago. Coming near the end of a lifetime of great achievements, this movie must have been Disney’s pride and joy. It’s certainly a joyous, unforgettable experience for any and every member of the family.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Disney
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DD, English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
    • Rating: G
    • Run Time: 2 Hrs. 19 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
    • Case Type: keep case in a slipcover
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: ABC
    • Release Date: 12/10/2013
    • MSRP: $39.99

    The Production Rating: 5/5

    Because their parents George (David Tomlinson) and Winifred (Glynis Johns) Banks are busy with their own careers (he’s a banker; she’s a women’s suffrage activist), children Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber) Banks feel neglected and rebel against all of their nannies. They write an advertisement of their own for the perfect nanny for them, and she magically appears in the person of Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews). She’s a kind but somewhat starchy personality, but through her auspices, strange and magical things begin happening which teach the children valuable lessons, and thus the children are transformed into obedient and more thoughtful tykes. Not only that, but the family’s other servants develop a warm camaraderie that had been missing before the nanny’s arrival. Mr. Banks, upset by all the cheerfulness in his more soberly regimented household of yore, thinks the children’s time could be better spent in more serious pursuits than in the imaginative ways Mary Poppins had been using it, so he intends on making some changes.

    The Poppins books by P.L. Travers are episodic in nature with no real story through lines, so the primary challenge in the adaptation by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi was to concoct scenes which could link the various adventures the children have with and without Mary Poppins. Their script is a masterful construction with just enough connective tissue to make the story of Poppins’ magical effect on a splintered family ring completely true. Part of that bonding fiber is the absolutely magical score by Richard and Robert Sherman. With enough songs to fill a Broadway show (most original movie musicals of the era not adapted from stage works had about half as many songs), the score is tender, funny, spirited, and most of all appropriate to the mood of the piece and the time frame of the film (the Edwardian era). The songs and story work in such close harmony that one can’t really be separated from the other. The three magical adventures which Mary Poppins and her frequent companion jack-of-all-trades Bert (Dick Van Dyke) take the children on all have songs at their core and each is a show-stopping marvel: the chalk picture lark which involves a carousel, a fox hunt, and a horse race are tied to two songs: the lilting “Jolly Holiday” and the boisterous “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”; the tea party on the ceiling involves Mary’s Uncle Albert (Ed Wynn) who exclaims, “I Love to Laugh”; and the film’s all-stops-out production number is a rooftop tour of London with some chimney sweeps who “Step in Time.”

    These numbers (and many others including the lively “Spoonful of Sugar,” the haunting “Feed the Birds,” and several variations of the Oscar-winning “Chim-Chim-Cheree”) utilize the services of Disney magic in ways that stagger the imagination. The “Jolly Holiday” sequence wasn’t the first time Disney had melded live action and animation, but it was the most extensive sequence ever attempted by the studio and certainly among its most successful ever. With so many magical effects that nonchalantly come and go during the movie without calling vast attention to themselves (cleaning the nursery, the Bird Woman sequence on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the flight of the nannies, the effects of Admiral Boom’s (Reginald Owen) hourly signal), it’s almost too much visually to take in at one time; it’s no wonder that the film has inspired such loyalty through the decades who made it unquestionably the successor to The Wizard of Oz in terms of musical movie magic.

    Mary Poppins was Julie Andrews’ first movie, and her one-two punch of this film and The Americanization of Emily in 1964 made her the hottest star in Hollywood. Yet, despite her inexperience in film work, she’s a natural before the camera: grounded, polished, and, just as the title character herself, practically perfect in every way. It’s little wonder she was rewarded with an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her work here: it’s a breathtaking display of a triple threat artist’s singing, dancing, and acting in a first class production where all the stars were simply aligned to illuminate her brilliance. Dick Van Dyk’e cockney accent may have come in for some criticism at the time, but he’s so amiable a presence, so life-affirming and upbeat that such criticism seems rather beside the point, and he's also a triple threat artist easily able to match his leading lady. David Tomlinson utilizes talk-sing for his numbers as Mr. Banks and negotiates the film’s widest emotional arc with considerable skill winning the audience over by movie’s end. Glynis Johns who would win a musical actress Tony a decade later in A Little Night Music brings her warmth and vivacity as the preoccupied mother. As the children, Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber exude all the high spirits and excitement of young children in the throes of amazement. And veteran actors like Ed Wynn, Arthur Treacher, Reta Shaw, Hermione Baddeley, Elsa Lanchester, Jane Darwell, and Reginald Owen do wonderfully with their limited appearances.
    Film Clip: Spoonful of Sugar


    Film Clip: Penguin Dance

    Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film has been framed here at 1.66:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. By far the best the movie has ever looked on home video, the color is the most outstanding facet of this transfer. For the first time on home video, the flesh tones look right, neither too brown nor too pink, and the “Jolly Holiday” animation boasts beautifully saturated hues which stun but don’t bloom. Sharpness is excellent (yes, thin matte lines from previous releases are still present on occasion but seem much tamer in high definition), and the transfer offers quite a film-like texture. Black levels are wonderful. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4.5/5

    The transfer offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix (utilized for this review) as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 sound mixes. The most striking aspect of this new lossless encode is that conductor Irwin Kostel’s superb orchestrations are now so wonderfully spread out to the various channels to be heard and relished clearly for the first time. There is just the right amount of bass to the mix, and the musical accompaniment and underscore has been balanced beautifully with the singing voices and dialogue in the picture, all rooted in the center channel. While ambient effects may not have been opened up to the various channels as the music has been, the overall listening experience is still one to be savored.

    Special Features: 5/5

    Audio Commentary: Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, Richard Sherman and Karen Dotrice, and Robert Sherman all participate in an edited together commentary track that’s a fine accompaniment to the onscreen visuals.

    Becoming Mr. Sherman (14:01. HD): composer Richard Sherman and his on-screen alter ego Jason Schwartzman (who plays him in the upcoming Saving Mr. Banks) talk about the songs for Mary Poppins and the actor’s gratitude to get help from the real-life composer when he was making the movie.

    Mary-Oke (7:58, HD): four songs from the film are given an animated, singalong treatment. They may also be selected individually.

    Ported-Over DVD Bonus Material (SD unless otherwise noted)
    • Mary Poppins from Page to Stage (48:06): the creative team behind the adaptation of the book and movie musical into a London (and later New York) stage version discuss the show’s creation.
    • “Step in Time” (7:08): the stage version of the famous dance number.
    • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making of Mary Poppins (50:46): an excellent behind-the-scenes look at the film’s more than two year production history with many cast and crew recalling its production.
    • World Premiere (17:45): the premiere of the film at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood features interviews with many celebrities in both color and black and white footage.
    • Premiere Party (6:23): radio interviews with the celebrities attending the premiere party after the film had concluded.
    • Movie Magic (7:05): some behind-the-scenes looks at how some of the special effects in the film were achieved.
    • Deconstruction of “Jolly Holiday” (13:03): clips show the live action, in between animation, and compositing of images to achieve the final product for the lengthy sequence.
    • Deconstruction of “Step in Time” (4:52): a behind-the-scenes look at how the dancing and effects were achieved during this production number.
    • Dick Van Dyke Make-up Test (1:07): the make-up test for Dick Van Dyke as the aged Mr. Dawes.
    • Trailers: teaser (2:54), theatrical (4:14), Julie Andrews premiere greeting trailer (0:39), two TV spots (0:32, 0:33), three reissue trailers (1:02, 1:12, 1:02)
    • Magical Musical Reunion (17:19): Richard Sherman, Julie Andrews, and Dick Van Dyke recall fond memories of making the movie.
    • Deleted Song “Chimpanzoo” (1:38): with storyboard visuals
    • Disney Song Selection (32:55, HD): jump directly to eight separate songs in the film with subtitled lyrics. They may also be accessed individually.
    • Short subject The Cat That Looked at a King (9:52): Julie Andrews stars in an animated/live action short.
    Promo Trailers (HD): Saving Mr. Banks, The Jungle Book.

    DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed
    Bonus Clip: Jason's Guardian Angel


    Bonus Clip: Dick's Lunchtime Joke

    Overall Rating: 4.5/5

    One of the true crown jewels in the Disney stockpile of classics, Mary Poppins is a one-of-a-kind achievement. It comes to Blu-ray in a sparkling high definition transfer that does its brilliance proud. Highly recommended!

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
    Support HTF when you buy this title:



    21 Comments

    Thanks, Matt!  I am so thankful you reviewed this!

    Thanks for the review, Matt!  Will definitely be picking this up on the 10th, along with The Day of the Doctor.

     

    Does the Blu-Ray include A Musical Journey with Richard Sherman (20:50), which was created for the 2004 DVD?  It looks like the Blu-Ray has incorporated most of the material from the 40th/45th Anniversary Edition DVDs, except for that featurette, the art galleries, the subtitle trivia track, and the "I Love to Laugh" set-top game.  Also missing from past releases are the 1997 LaserDisc documentary Mary Poppins: Practically Perfect in Every Way - The Magic Behind the Masterpiece (16:32), the 1964 theatrical featurette "Hollywood Goes To A World Premiere" (9:28), another theatrical trailer (2:36 - general release?) and a couple brief video pieces from the 1993 LaserDisc: "Jolly Holiday" Storyboards With Corresponding Film Sequences (4:24) and Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Making Of Mary Poppins (5:17).  Would have loved if they had included the isolated score again, it's only on the 1997 LaserDisc.

    Thank you for the review, Matt.  Hour One purchase for me!    

    Thanks for the review, Matt!  Will definitely be picking this up on the 10th, along with The Day of the Doctor.

     

    Does the Blu-Ray include A Musical Journey with Richard Sherman (20:50), which was created for the 2004 DVD?  It looks like the Blu-Ray has incorporated most of the material from the 40th/45th Anniversary Edition DVDs, except for that featurette, the art galleries, the subtitle trivia track, and the "I Love to Laugh" set-top game.  Also missing from past releases are the 1997 LaserDisc documentary Mary Poppins: Practically Perfect in Every Way - The Magic Behind the Masterpiece (16:32), the 1964 theatrical featurette "Hollywood Goes To A World Premiere" (9:28), another theatrical trailer (2:36 - general release?) and a couple brief video pieces from the 1993 LaserDisc: "Jolly Holiday" Storyboards With Corresponding Film Sequences (4:24) and Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Making Of Mary Poppins (5:17).  Would have loved if they had included the isolated score again, it's only on the 1997 LaserDisc.

     

    Unless I missed something with the way the bonus screens are laid out, what's in the bonus features above is what I found and watched.

    Really glad the restoration is recieving such high marks!

     

    Would love to have seen as a bonus "The Boys", the recent documentary on the lives and work of the Sherman brothers.

    In Matt's glowing review he mentions several of the long-time actors that appear in small roles, but left out Jane Darwell's final performance.  He mentions the Bird Lady, but not that she was played by Darwell.

    When MARY POPPINS was released I was working for Disney's distribution branch, Buena Vista, and remember a presentation made at the studio when it was in preparation.  This was given to the Buena Vista sales force at a meeting, with Walt Disney telling the story, and the Sherman Brothers at a piano singing the songs.

    I did mean to mention Jane Darwell and it slipped my mind in the rush to get the review posted. I'll find time later tonight to rectify that omission. This wonderful actress certainly deserves comment in her very last role.

    I love the story about how Walt Disney got her for the part. Darwell had  moved into the Motion Picture Country Home because of her advanced age and feebleness. She didn't need the money or the work, so she turned it down. Disney drove to the retirement home to plead with her personally, and, when it came time for her to film the role, sent a limousine to bring her to the studio.

    Spent my morning watching this masterpiece.

     

    It's been years since I have seen Mary Poppins, and I felt as if I were watching

    it for the first time again.

     

    This is one of the greatest films ever made and it's perhaps the most essential

    Blu-ray release since the format began.

     

    The film looks great. I couldn't believe the level of black in George Bank's suit.

     

    The only complaint -- if a legitimate complaint could be had -- is that the Blu-ray

    brings out the imperfections in the effects.  During the song "Spoonful of Sugar"

    Mary Poppins, for a moment, looks like a cut-out surrounded in white tracing,

    against the background.  Many of the scenes with extensive effect work (like pulling

    large items out of Mary's bag) don't look exactly seamless because of the detail

    that this format tends to reveal.

     

    ....but really, I am making a complaint about nothing.  Don't even consider it a

    complaint.  This film looks perfect, grain and all.

     

    Thank goodness there is not a flight wire to be seen anywhere.

     

    To give the highest of compliments, I was really impressed with the animated

    sequence featuring Jolly Holiday with Mary and Supercalifragilistic....

     

    I was looking for any sort of flaw in the live action melded with animation.  I was

    astonished by how perfectly everything blended together.  When Mary and Bert 

    are riding the turtles, for instance, it looks incredibly convincing.  The poles of

    the carousel horses hitting the dirt road and leaving scuff marks is a great

    example of the level of detail the animation team strived to perfect.

     

    And the talents of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke is something that kept

    a smile on my face throughout the presentation.

     

    This is a shining moment in Disney's history.  This Blu-ray presentation is perfect.

    I'm looking forward to Mary Poppins.

     

    Fans of Jane Darwell should be aware that she also appears in Jesse James, which is being released by Fox on Tuesday (although many people have received it already).

    Easily the best film of 1964, by a mile.  It should have won Best Picture, Director, Actor, every award.  I can't wait to see it, again, via Blu!

    Thank you for the review.  It will be added to the library.

    I think even in its day, POPPINS was considered an exceptional achievement.  As a child I was almost never taken to Disney live-action films... mostly because my parents didn't care for them.  MARY POPPINS was the exception, my parents couldn't wait to go, and not only was it the first film I was ever taken to see, but one my family continued to revisit with each re-release, and later, network television broadcast.  It's practically perfect in every way.  :)  I'm REALLY glad to hear that apparently the same can be said for this blu-ray release!

    MARY POPPINS was an enormous critical and box-office success. Even more of a box-office hit than the predicted MY FAIR LADY, which Jack Warner claimed would be the most successful motion picture of all-time.  POPPINS earned more at the box-office, and was an even bigger success, because it cost far less to make than MFL.  It was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, more than any motion picture of that year.  Yes, it was considered an exceptional achievement.

    Thanks, Matt for this and all the other reviews you've been posting lately.  You've been quite busy!  This is all much appreciated.

    Thanks, Matt for this and all the other reviews you've been posting lately.  You've been quite busy!  This is all much appreciated.

     

    Thank you for noticing, Steve. Much appreciated. Thankfully for me, most of the movies have been so wonderful and are such classics that it's been pure pleasure and not like work at all.

    The news on this title keeps getting better and better. Can't wait...

    Looking forward to getting this - nice review.

    We added some film and bonus clips.

    Watched tonight straight through on a beautiful screen, this is hereby admitted into my top echelon of outstanding Blu-rays.

    Robert Siegel just posted a fascinating look back at Mary Poppins with lots of vintage artwork.  He also talks with one of the technicians involved in the restoration: http://www.hometheat...view=getnewpost