Friday, 21 April 2017

Mary Poppins (1964)

Mr Banks likes things neat and orderly, like they are at the bank where he works.  Unfortunately, there is nothing especially orderly about children, as he and a succession of frazzled nannies have discovered.  When he resolves to fix the issue once and for all, however, he gets rather more than he bargained for: the magical Mary Poppins, who flies in on the east wind to set the Banks household to right with a combination of supernatural powers and weapons-grade sangfroid.

Despite what Saving Mr Banks might try to tell you, P L Travers did not much care for this film.  Which I think goes to show you that authors are not always the best people to ask about adaptations of their work.

Not that I'd say Mary Poppins is a flawless film, mind you: I think it's a bit too long, that some of the musical numbers overstay their welcome, and that the ending is a bit rushed (certainly more rushed than an ending should be in a film that runs nearly two and a half hours).  And let's not forget Dick Van Dyke's accent.

But very few things in life are flawless, and the film's combination of visual phantasmagoria, strong performances (special shout out to David Tomlinson's turn as Mr Banks) and bombastic cheerfulness allow it to sail merrily along despite any minor blemishes it might have.  Admittedly, the visual aspects aren't as impressive today as they were when it was released, but they still hold up quite well after all this time: not bad for a movie that's over 50 years old.

A final warning: there's a good chance you'll end up with one or more of the film's songs stuck in your head for a long time after the movie itself is over.

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