Mary Poppins is a 1964 American musical film produced by Walt Disney Productions, based on the Mary Poppins series of children's books written by P. L. Travers and illustrated by Mary Shepard. Songs in the film are by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. It is rated G by the MPAA.
In 2006 this film ranked #6 on the American Film Institute's list of best musicals.
The film opens with Mary Poppins touching up her makeup as she perches on a cloud above 1910 London. The action descends to earth where Bert, a jack-of-all-trades, meets the Bankses, a wealthy family headed by the haughty Mr. Banks and the lovely but distracted Mrs. Banks. The Banks' most recent nanny has just quit out of exasperation at the unruliness of the Banks children, Jane and Michael (a fact that Mrs. Banks only later becomes aware of, due to her ongoing preoccupation with the suffragette movement).
Mr. Banks takes a personal hand in the hiring of a replacement and insists on a stern authoritarian type to control his children. However, Jane and Michael take upon themselves to draft an advertisement for a fun person who would not be a tyrant. Although Mr. Banks rejects their proposal, tears up their ad and throws it in the fireplace, the note magically flies up the chimney.
The next day there is a long line of nanny candidates waiting at the Banks' door. A strong gust of wind literally blows the nannies away while Mary Poppins flies down with her umbrella to apply. The interview with Mr. Banks goes quickly, when he is stunned to see this calmly defiant new nanny has responded to the children's ad (rather than his own) despite the fact he destroyed it. As he tries to fathom this mystery, Mary Poppins hires herself and begins work.
The children face surprises of their own as they discover that Mary's method of arrival is only the beginning of her magical talents. With songs and magic, numerous wondrously impossible things happen starting with Mary Poppin's bottomless carpetbag, and her ability to magically clean the children's nursery to the tune of "A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down." The magic continues with an outing that begins by literally jumping into a chalk pavement drawing with Bert.
Upon arrival at the Banks' home, a departing Mrs. Banks hires Bert to watch the children until she gets home, where he ends up sweeping the chimney while the children watch. Mary arrives back from her day off to caution the children about the hazards of that activity. However, the children are sucked up the chimney to the roof. Bert and Mary follow to retrieve them. Taking advantage of the situation, Mary and Bert lead a tour of the rooftops of London that concludes with a joyfully energetic dance with Bert's chimney-sweep colleagues as they demonstrate their acrobatic skill to the music of "Step In Time." A volley of fireworks from the Banks' eccentric neighbor, Admiral Boom, sends the gathering back down the chimney into the Banks home.
Mr. Banks arrives home, forcing Mary to conclude the festivities. Banks then receives a phone call from work ordering him to return immediately for disciplinary action. As Mr. Banks gathers his strength to face his superiors, Bert points out that while Mr. Banks does need to make a living, his children's childhood will come and go in a blink of an eye, and as a father he needs to be there for them while he can. A sombre and thoughtful Mr. Banks proceeds to the bank where he is fired in the most humiliating way possible for causing the first run on the bank since 1773. However, after being left at a loss for words when ordered to give a statement about his dismissal, Mr. Banks realizes the true priorities of life and gleefully uses Mary's all purpose word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" to tweak Mr Dawes. He then tells Dawes one of Uncle Albert's jokes, and raucously departs to the amazement of his ex-colleagues. Dawes mulls over the joke, finally "gets it" and floats up into the air, laughing...
The next morning, the winds have changed and to the children's sorrow, Mary must depart. However, Mr. Banks, now loving and joyful, reappears after a long night's disappearance with a mended kite for the children and an urge to play with his family. Mrs. Banks also realizes that she's been neglectful of her children, and supplies a tail for the kite, using one of her suffragette ribbons. They all leave the house without a backward glance as Mary Poppins watches from a window. In the park with other kite-flyers, Mr. Banks meets Mr. Dawes Jr. who says that his father literally died laughing at the joke. Instead of mournful, the son is delighted his father died happy and rehires Mr. Banks to fill the sudden opening.
With her work done, Mary Poppins takes to the air with a farewell from Bert.
TriviaThe "A Spoonful of Sugar" song sequence contains a double-goof. At one point in the song, Mary opens the window and performs a brief duet with a robin. However, it is clearly an American Robin (Turdus migratorius) rather than the unrelated European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) found in England. In addition, it is two male robins building the nest outside the window, which is unlikely.
In 2005, the film was in the theatres in Israel for the first time, and it was dubbed by the actress and singer Ninette Tayeb.
While being a notable film to combine animation with live action, it was still using old techniques and many faults are easy to see. For example, by looking closely during one scene where Bert dances with the animated penguins, you can see that they are transparent and the leg of the table where Mary is sitting at, is visible.
The Penguins from Mary Poppins can regularly be seen on the TV Show Disney's House of Mouse. They reappear in 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, serving patrons at the Ink & Paint Club.
In a poll conducted by Channel 4 (UK TV channel) in 2003, Mary Poppins was voted the 5th best musical of all time .