Mary Poppins (1964)

100 Films’ 100 Favourites #58

It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 139 minutes
BBFC: U
MPAA: G (1972)

Original Release: 27th August 1964 (USA)
UK Release: 23rd December 1964
First Seen: by osmosis in childhood.

Stars
Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music, Torn Curtain)
Dick Van Dyke (Bye Bye Birdie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)
David Tomlinson (The Love Bug, Bedknobs and Broomsticks)
Karen Dotrice (The Gnome-Mobile, The Thirty-Nine Steps)

Director
Robert Stevenson (Jane Eyre, Bedknobs and Broomsticks)

Screenwriter
Bill Walsh (The Love Bug, Bedknobs and Broomsticks)
Don DaGradi (Blackbeard’s Ghost, Bedknobs and Broomsticks)

Based on
the Mary Poppins books by P.L. Travers.

Music and Lyrics
Richard M. Sherman (The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)
Robert B. Sherman (Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh)

The Story
Not impressed by the nannies selected by their domineering father, Jane and Michael Banks write a letter describing their ideal applicant. Conversely, Mr Banks is not impressed with their requirements, and tears up the letter and throws it in the fire… from whence it reaches Mary Poppins, who floats down to bring fun and discipline to all of the Banks household.

Our Hero
The magical nanny who comes from the sky, Mary Poppins can be (whisper it) actually a little bit annoying at times. Julie Andrews, on the other hand, is practically perfect in every way.

Our Villains
Ultimately, bankers. Some things never change.

Best Supporting Character
Ostensibly this is the story of children Jane and Michael Banks and their need for a SuperNanny to help them with their oh-so-terrible father — and, as a child, that’s where your focus lies. Really (and I guess you need to grow up at least a bit to see this), it’s about how said SuperNanny saves their father, Mr Banks, helping to transform him from a miserable corporate drone into a joyful family man. David Tomlinson negotiates this arc fantastically.

Memorable Quote
“You know, you can say it backwards, which is ‘docious-ali-expi-istic-fragil-cali-rupus’… but that’s going a bit too far, don’t you think?” — Mary Poppins

Quote Most Likely To Be Used in Everyday Conversation
“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” — Mary Poppins

Memorable Scene
Chimneysweeps dancing on the rooftops! (Fun fact: I always thought Step In Time was called Stepping Time. I mean, the dance does contain a lot of, sort of, steps…)

Best Song as a Child
Iiiiiiit’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious. If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious. (Sacrilege maybe, but the version from the 2004 stage musical is even better.)

Best Song as an Adult
When I was little, the whole part of the film around the bank, Feed the Birds, etc, was The Boring Bit between the fun and the return of the fun. Now, I still think most of Feed the Birds is a little insipid, but the instrumental reprise as Mr Banks walks slowly back to the bank, his world and everything he knows torn asunder, his humiliation imminent… It’s heartbreaking, and the music is most of the reason why.

Technical Wizardry
The sequence where Mary, the children, and Bert jump into one of the latter’s street paintings — all of it animated, with the exception of the leads — is a sterling extended example of combining live-action with cel animation.

Truly Special Effect
As a lad, I could never work out how exactly they’d managed to create Mary’s bottomless bag. I haven’t watched the film for a while and imagine it’s painfully obvious now… I also used to think the little bird that lands on her hand was a miraculous effect and didn’t understand why some people slagged it off, but then I watched that bit on YouTube a couple of years ago and finally saw what everyone else saw. Oh, the sadness of ageing…

Letting the Side Down
The fact that real cockneys don’t sound like Dick Van Dyke. No, I don’t mean it the other way round — the fact that the real-life denizens of East London sound nothing like Bert is the problem here, not Bert’s accent. That is how I think cockneys should sound, and it always will be.

Making of
See: Saving Mr. Banks. Knowing biopics it’s probably not 100% accurate, but it is a good film.

Next time…
Despite several attempts, a sequel never happened. The director and/or writers worked together on multiple films at Disney over the next few years — most famously, an early-’70s blatant attempt to recreate the Poppins magic, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Mary Poppins herself returned in 2004 in a Cameron Mackintosh-produced West End musical, based on the film but re-incorporating more from the books. Talk of it being adapted into a film seem to have come to nowt. Instead, a (very) belated sequel with Emily Blunt in the title role is due in 2018.

Awards
5 Oscars (Actress (Julie Andrews), Song (Chim Chim Cher-ee), Substantially Original Score, Editing, Visual Effects)
8 Oscar nominations (Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Color Cinematography, Color Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color Costume Design, Sound, Scoring of Music Adaptation or Treatment)
1 BAFTA (Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles (Julie Andrews))

What the Critics Said
“Of course, it is sentimental. And, as Mary Poppins says, “Practically perfect people never permit sentiment to muddle their feelings.” But being not practically perfect, I find it irresistible. Plenty of other adults will feel the same way. And, needless to say, so will the kids.” — Bosley Crowther, The New York Times

Score: 100%

What the Public Say
“It is the single glowing moment of sheer unmixed genius in the long stretch of lightweight successes and dreary failures that made up nearly three whole decades of Disney’s output in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s; a fantasy of the most delicate touch and charming disposition, sweet and precious while being neither sickening nor cloying.” — Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Verdict

I feel like Mary Poppins is the kind of movie that it would’ve been easy to overlook in putting together this list of favourites — a childhood favourite, that’s maybe so obvious you kind of forget about it as A Movie — which is one of the reasons I made sure to get it on here. Another is how well it works for both children and adults. As the former, the magical adventures and toe-tapping songs are pure joy, a wonder-filled experience that doesn’t date. As the latter, those elements are still entertaining, but the depth of some of the film’s messages (especially pertaining to the adults) really comes through. It’s a film for all ages, and one for the ages too.

#59 will be…

The Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Monthly Update for October 2015

It was inevitable that the sheer size of September’s accomplishment would overshadow whatever I watched in October. After all, it was my highest-viewing month for over eight years — how long would it be before I could say that again?

Turns out: one month.

Though, actually, October 2015 isn’t my highest month for eight years — it’s my highest month ever.

(Alright, I promise to never use memes again.)


In a conversation in last month’s comment section, Tom of Digital Shortbread observed that my monthly updates had “lots and lots of stuff to take in”. As I responded, “I think I may have overloaded these monthly posts,” and I think I was right.

So this month I’ve slightly pared back, simplified, and rearranged (you can now find the Arbies right at the end, here) to focus in on what these are meant to be about: a progress report on my eponymous goal. Exorcised categories may resurface in other forms later, and things will be even more streamlined from December when my archive reposts are complete — and when I haven’t watched the most number of films ever, of course — but this is fundamentally it for the new new-look monthly updates.

The first thing I’ve done away with is the contents list, so it’s straight in to:


#142 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
#143 The Wrestler (2008)
#144 The Fifth Estate (2013)
#145 Twilight (2008)
#146 Ender’s Game (2013)
#147 sex, lies, and videotape (1989)
#148 Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)
#149 Supermen of Malegaon (2008)
#149a The Crying of Lot 49 (2007)
#150 Parabellum (2015)
#151 Dreams of a Life (2011)
#152 A Clockwork Orange (1971)
#153 Wings (1927)
#154 Jurassic World (2015)
#155 The Decoy Bride (2011)
#156 Coherence (2013)
#157 Circle (2015)
#158 Europa Report (2013)
#159 Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
#160 The Grandmaster (2013), aka Yi dai zong shi
#161 Back in Time (2015)
#162 Stoker (2013)
#163 The Golem: How He Came into the World (1920), aka Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam
#164 Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
#165 Mr. Holmes (2015)
#166 Life Itself (2014)
#167 The Machine (2013)
#168 Spectre (2015)
#169 Jupiter Ascending (2015)
#170 The Babadook (2014)
#171 Blue Ruin (2013)
#172 You’re Next (2011)


  • One more What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen film this month: Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. I’ve got four left to get through in the next two months, now.
  • As I mentioned in my review, I was going to review the entire Twilight Saga for Halloween, but a free month of Netflix (which I had to take now lest it expire (oh the hardship)) saw to that.
  • Relatedly, a point about director Bill Condon: if the Twilight plan had gone ahead, he’d’ve gone from “never seen one of his films” to one of my top twenty-something most-reviewed directors in just one month. But I didn’t, so he doesn’t… for now.
  • After last month’s awesomely wide decade spread, this month I watched two films from the ’20s, one each from the ’70s and ’80s, four from the 2000s… and 24 from the 2010s. Business as normal, then.
  • I don’t think I watch a great many documentaries (though I have no stats to back that up), but this month I watched five. However many I watch normally, that’s certainly high for one month.
  • I also watched ten sci-fi films this month. That’s less surprising, but it’s still a relatively large amount.
  • Finally: thanks to all those films, the header image took me a couple of hours to put together. I mean that literally — it took the best part of two hours.


After discussing last month the uncertainty of how many films I watched in August 2007, which makes it hard to know whether it’s been surpassed or not… well, this month I soundly, definitively, unquestionably overtook it: that long, long list above adds up to 31 new feature films.

Now I just need to do it twice more and the August 2007 issue can be put to bed forever. I can tell you for nothing, it won’t happen this year (but we’ll come to that).

So what else is there to say about those 31 films? Well, obviously it maintains my ten-per-month goal, for the 17th month in a row now. It’s also the second month in a row with over 20 films, the first time that’s ever happened… which is unsurprising when you remember that before 2015 I’d only ever had one month with over 20 films. It also surpasses last October’s tally, because, obviously. That’s a full 12 consecutive months besting the previous year’s counterpart. And it goes without saying that it’s the best October ever (by 17) and the best month of 2015 (by eight).

For most of 2015 the rolling monthly average has been 15 films per month. September dragged it up to 15.67, the first time it had been closer to 16 since January was 16. October’s tally is pretty much double that, in the process single-handedly dragging the average all the way up to 17.2! It has even more of an effect on the all-time October monthly average, which goes from 10.0 to 12.6.

And all other year-to-date and entire-year records have already been smashed in previous months, so that’ll next be worth discussing after December.

So what about predictions for the remaining two months of 2015? Well, in January I laughed at the ridiculous suggestion that I could make it to 192 by the end of the year. That’s now just 20 films away, meaning I only need to watch my ‘minimum’ 10 films per month to pass it. And 192… well, that’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from 200. 200! 200! Two frickin’ hundred!

Now, let’s calm back down, because there are challenges in the way of such a bold target: later in November I’m away for most of a week, and there are a couple of time-filling TV series on the way (more on that in a bit), which will likely roll over into December, and before you know it it’ll be Christmas and all the travelling and spending time with family will hamper proceedings somewhat. Damn family.

Away from the real world and in the realm of numbers and statistics, though, we can conjure up the following array of possibilities. If I only reach my historical average viewing levels for November and December, I’ll make it to 190 — and thereby miss the aforementioned ten-per-month target, so I’ll be thoroughly upset with myself if that happens. As mentioned, achieving that target for two more months places me at 192. If I continue my other on-going streak — of surpassing the same month last year — than I’ll wind up at 202. If I manage the monthly average that I maintained for most of the year, that also puts me at 202. If I can hold up the new average of 17.2, though, I’ll get all the way to 206.

206! 206! Two hundred and frickin’ six!

Well, we’ll see.



This month’s flood of reposts takes us all the way through my recaps of 2008 to 2011, leaving the way clear for next month to be all about the year-end summary posts.

The pictures are all a bit samey, so let me guide you though them in clumps. The month began with a week-long rush through all of 2008, 2009, and the start of 2010:

Then it was on to the first ever monthly updates, which cover the bulk of 2010:

Finally, the entirety of 2011, across twelve monthly updates:

Now, 2011’s summaries are already online — you can peruse the full list and all the exciting statistics here, and learn about my top ten and bottom five here. Next month, as I mentioned, I’ll be reposting the summaries for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, one year per weekend.



The 5th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
In a month with so many films, there’s a fair chance a lot of them will be good — indeed, 15 of October’s films are on the long-list for my year-end top ten (I’m quite liberal with what goes on that list, but still). Pushing aside mind-boggling done-for-real action, hugely successful reboots of childhood favourites, atmospheric Gothic thrillers, and thoroughly terrifying horrors, is a little documentary that was shown in the middle of the night on Channel 4 about a bunch of amateur filmmakers in India. The only one of those 15 to have definitely reserved a place on my top ten is the life-enhancing Supermen of Malegaon.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Similarly, in a month with so many films there’s a fair chance a few of them will be bad. There would indeed be a few contenders for the October wooden spoon, but they were all saved the dishonour by a rare single-star film: dull arthouse SF Parabellum.

Film You Have to Be Most Careful How You Talk About In Case Someone Thinks You’re a Paedophile or Something
One minute it’s Arya Stark having a sexual awakening about her brother, the next it’s Alice in Wonderland having an orgasm when she plays the piano. I think October’s pair of erotically-charged movies starring schoolgirls, The Falling and Stoker, can share this one.

Biggest Nostalgia Hit of the Month
It was pretty special to relive some of my childhood favourites through the documentaries Turtle Power (I had so many of the toys they showed!) and Back in Time (I really need to re-watch the BTTF trilogy), but this honour goes to the hair-raising thrill elicited when John Williams’ memorable theme swells under the unveiling of a place full of wonder in Jurassic World.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
This crown was claimed and re-claimed several times during the month, but the final victor may not be that surprising: my moderately-speedy spoiler-free first thoughts on that always-popular topic, a new James Bond film: Spectre.


Jessica Jones comes to Netflix and The Man in the High Castle comes to Amazon Prime — on the same day, frustratingly. I won’t be reviewing either, but they’ll ultimately eat up around 23 hours of my potential film-viewing time, so let’s expect a smaller-scale month than I’ve achieved of late.

In amongst all that, hopefully I’ll finally find time to bloody well re-watch the Veronica Mars movie and bloody well get bloody 2014 bloody finished.

Also, when we meet again for one of these round-ups it’ll be December (already?!) and I’ll be launching my 2015 advent calendar, too. What larks!