Today we celebrate 50 years of a near flawless film where Julie Andrews continues to be perfect and Dick Van Dyke sports a terrible accent but nobody cares because he’s Dick Van Dyke. I am of course speaking of the never to be forgotten, Oscar winning film, Mary Poppins.
Year Released: 1964
How it fared back then: Very well. Hailed by critics and audiences alike as a stunning piece of cinema, Mary Poppins was the most profitable film of 1965, securing its status as a Disney masterpiece and game-changer for the career of a very young Julie Andrews.
Why It’s Lasted: It’s hard to pick just one reason why its lasted. The sets? The songs? The performances? The fact that it was nominated for 13, count em, 13 Academy Awards, and took home five of those pretty little golden statues? From a critic’s perspective, this is a film that succeeds across the board. Although of course it helps that Disney knows when they have a hit on their hands and know just how to market and re-market it again and again for future generations. For me, this movie holds up because of its star: the one and only Julie Andrews. I think most of us look back on Mary Poppins and remember how sweet she was and how much we all wished we could have had a magical nanny with a flying umbrella, but when you watch the film as an adult, you can appreciate the subtlety in her performance. She manages to blend just the right amount of sweet and strict so that it is impossible not to fall in love with her, but you also to know that she’s not to be messed with. Flawless, just flawless.
Classic moments: The most memorable of them all; Julie Andrews flying through the sky with nothing but her umbrella to carry her. As the wind blows all of the other (hopeful) nannies away, the instrumental version of ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ begins to play and the two children see her breaking through the clouds of rainy London. That’s what movie magic is all about.
Does it hold up? Definitely. The songs are still fun and the performances are still great, but more importantly, the same values apply. At the end of the day the film is exploring the relationship between George Banks and his children, and how he’s so obsessed with his work that he doesn’t realize all that he’s missing out on. It’s not that he doesn’t try, and it’s not that he doesn’t care, he’s just doing what he thinks he needs to do, and I think that’s something that’s still very prevalent in today’s world.