Sunday, November 4, 2012

Family Movie Night: Mary Poppins

Title: Mary Poppins
Director: Robert Stevenson
Original Release: 1964
Choice: Our Girl's
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Image via Wikipedia

Mary Poppins is, of course, a film classic.  It's become an important story for our family as well.  The audiobook of the original P.L. Travers novel, charmingly narrated by Sophie Thompson, has been a favorite on road trips.  Also, Our Girl's dance studio used the story as its central theme for a recital a few years back.  Our Girl was one of the dancing penguin waiters.  She knows the movie well enough to know when "her part" is coming up.

Mary Poppins is also an essential chapter in one of the great career-launch stories.  Julie Andrews was already a Broadway legend by the time she made her film debut as Mary.  However, the only reason she was available was that she'd been passed over for the role of Eliza Doolittle in the film version of My Fair Lady, the very part which had carried her to stardom on stage.  The producers at Warner Bros. felt she wouldn't be a big enough draw.  They cast Audrey Hepburn instead with Marni Nixon dubbing the songs.  While both films were enormously successful, Andrews surely had the last laugh.  She won the Oscar for Best Actress and Poppins was Disney's biggest box office hit to that point.  The following year, she starred as Maria in The Sound of Music, cementing her place as ruling queen of the Hollywood musical pantheon.

Multi-generational considerations
  • Our Girl claims to like the film version better but I prefer the book and I'm pretty sure My Wife does, too.  If anything, the book has enhanced my appreciation for the movie.

My Rating System:

5 = The best of the best.  These are the films by which I judge other films.
4 = High quality films which I feel could hold up well in repeated viewings.
3 = The vast majority of films.  They're fine.  Once was enough.
2 = I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish it.  It's not a 1 because I'm not prepared to say it's a terrible film - just not my cup of tea.
1 = A terrible film.  An insult to the art form.


  1. What a lovely, beautifully-articulated tribute to Andrews!

    This film had even more impact on my developing imagination than the Peanuts feature-length animations. I love that you've posted about it here at the Squid! And I will defy your rating and say if this can't earn five starts on Family Film Night -- I no longer trust your judgment. Enough is as good as feast!

    1. Well, obviously this is no fun if everyone always agrees with me!

      I'm generous with 3s and 4s but I'm very stingy with 5s. Of the 2,488 titles I've rated on Netflix, only 46 are 5s - less than 2%. Bear in mind, musicals aren't really my genre to begin with and I've only given 5s to three of them: "West Side Story", "Wizard of Oz" and "Once" (which only sort of counts).

      I'm difficult. Netflix has a hard time recommending movies for me.

    2. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova?!

  2. 'a' feast. Forgot the article in my mad rush to publish my staunch opinion. :)

  3. This is how I look at it: "Once" was made for $100,000 and it's lovely. Think of how many unwatchable films have been made for 100 times that and more. So, yes, as much as I like both movies, I prefer a world in which everyone's trying to make the next "Once" to the one where everyone's trying to make the next "Mary Poppins."

    1. I think my question came off as negative incredulity when what I meant was, 'I love that soundtrack!'

      Nicely-articulated, Binkerton. How can one disagree?

      (Mary Poppins earned its five stars, btw.)

  4. Did you see?! Lu called you Squidward on her blog, today! :)

    1. Isn't she the one who started that?

    2. Nope. It was Nicki Elson. It's caught on, though.

    3. Funny how such things take on a life all their own.