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Mary Poppins (film)

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Mary Poppins
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Produced by Walt Disney
Written by P.L. Travers (books)

Bill Walsh
Don DaGradi

Music by Richard Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
Editing by
Production company(s)
Distributor Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date(s) August 27, 1964
Running time 139 minutes
Language English
Budget $6 million
Gross revenue
Preceded by
Followed by
External links
IMDb page
Mary Poppins is a 1964 American musical hybrid film presented and produced by Walt Disney Productions and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, based on the Mary Poppins series of children's books written by Pamela L. Travers. Songs in it are by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. It is rated G by the MPAA.

The film was released to great critical praise. It was famously nominated for thirteen Academy Awards, making it as the Oscar most-nominated Disney-film. Although the film was favored highly to won the Best Picture award in 1965, it lost the award to My Fair Lady, another musical film. Nevertheless, it still managed to win five awards out of thirteen, most notably Best Actress for Julie Andrews for her portrayal as Mary.

In 2006 the film ranked #6 on the American Film Institute's list of best musicals. It also has one of the larger parts of The Great Movie Ride, having both a poster in the "lobby" of the "theater" (the station) and a scene with an animatronic Mary and Bert. It is largely considered as the Greatest Disney Live Action movie.


Mary poppins

Mary Poppins shown sitting on a cloud at the beginning of the film

The film opens with a shot of Mary Poppins touching up her makeup as she perches on a cloud high above 1910 London. The action then descends to earth where Bert, a cockney jack-of-all-trades, introduces the audience to the Banks family, a well-to-do but troubled family headed by the rather cold and aloof George and his loving but highly distracted wife, Winifred. Their latest nanny, Katie Nanna, has just quit out of exasperation at the indiscipline of their children, Jane and Michael, a fact that Winifred only belatedly becomes aware of, due to her ongoing preoccupation with suffragette rallies.

Upon learning of the situation, George decides to take a personal hand in the hiring of a replacement and insists on a stern authoritarian type to control his children. However, they take upon themselves to draft an advertisement for a fun person who would not be a tyrant. Although he rejects their proposal, tears up their ad, and throws it in the fireplace. The pieces magically fly up the chimney for Mary to piece together and read.

The next day there is a long queue of old (and thoroughly disagreeable, in the children's opinion) nanny candidates waiting at the Banks' door. However, a strong gust of wind literally blows them away while Mary flies down with her umbrella to apply. The interview with George 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, she hires herself and begins work.


One of the most famous screenshots of the film: Mary Poppins with the robin in "A Spoonful of Sugar" Unfortunately, an American robin was used for the film instead of an English one.

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 her bottomless carpetbag, and her making the nursery clean itself to the tune of "A Spoonful of Sugar." The magic continues with a wondrous outing that begins by literally jumping into a chalk pavement drawing with Bert, and later having tea while suspended in midair with Mary's joking Uncle Albert, who floats uncontrollably whenever he laughs.

George grows increasingly uncomfortable with his children's stories of their adventures and how they are enchanted by their new nanny. However, Mary effortlessly inverts his attempted dismissal of her services into a plan to take the children with him to the bank where he works. Unfortunately, the occasion takes a disastrous turn when Mr. Dawes Sr., George's extremely elderly boss personally tries to persuade Michael to invest his money, which he intended to use to buy food from a local Bird Woman, to the point of stealing it out of the his hand. When he loudly protests, the other customers suddenly panic and start a bank run that forces it to suspend business. In the resulting chaos, the children flee in fear, wander into the slums of the East End and become lost. Fortunately, they literally run into Bert, currently employed as a chimney sweep. He takes them safely home while explaining that the incident at the bank does not mean their father hates them, but rather is a sign of the fact that he has preoccupying problems of his own.

Upon arrival at the Banks' house, a departing Winifred asks Bert to watch the children until she gets home as it's Mary's day off, where he ends up sweeping the chimney while they watch. Mary arrives back to caution them about the hazards of that activity. However, they are sucked up the chimney to the roof. Bert and Mary follow to retrieve them. Taking advantage of the situation, they 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 them back down the chimney into the house.

George arrives home, forcing Mary to conclude the festivities. He then receives a phone call from work ordering him to return immediately for disciplinary action. As he gathers his strength to face his superiors, Bert points out that while he does need to make a living, his offspring'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. After Bert leaves, a despondent Michael comes, and gives him the money he refused to give Mr. Dawes Sr. earlier that day, in hopes that it will make everything all right. A somber and thoughtful George proceeds to the bank where he is fired in the most humiliating way possible for causing the first run on there since 1773. However, after being left at a loss for words when ordered to give a statement about his dismissal, he realizes the true priorities of life and gleefully uses Mary's all purpose word, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", to tweak Mr. Dawes Sr.. He then tells him one of Uncle Albert's jokes, and raucously departs to the amazement of his ex-colleagues. Mr. Dawes Sr. mulls over the joke, finally "gets it", and floats up into the air, laughing.

The next morning, the wind has changed and to the children's sorrow, Mary must depart. However, George, 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. Winifred also realizes that she's been neglectful of her children, and supplies a tail for the kite, using one of her suffragette sashes. They all leave the house without a backward glance as Mary watches from a window. In the park with other kite-flyers, George meets Mr. Dawes Jr. who says that his father literally died laughing at the joke. Instead of mournful, he is delighted that his father died happy, and rehires George to fill the sudden opening. With her work done, Mary takes to the air, returning to the clouds with a farewell from Bert.


Major Characters

Minor Characters


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  • Overture - Orchestral medley of several of the songs from the film, including "Feed the Birds", "A Spoonful of Sugar", "Chim Chim Cher-ee" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".
  • "Jolly Holiday" - A few bars of the song, played by Dick Van Dyke with his "one man band" gear.
  • "Sister Suffragette" - Dick Van Dyke, Glynis Johns, Hermione Baddeley and Reta Shaw, with non-singing interruptions by Elsa Lanchester. Initially heard in an a cappella rendition by Johns, just prior to singing the full, orchestra-accompanied song with the house staff; and a music-only version in the "Step in Time" sequence.
  • "The Life I Lead" - David Tomlinson (later reprised with Julie Andrews as "A British Bank" and with Dick Van Dyke as "A Man has Dreams".)
  • "The Perfect Nanny" - Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber
  • "A Spoonful of Sugar" - Julie Andrews (the 2004 DVD release reveals that Andrews also performed the bird's whistling during this number)
  • "Jolly Holiday" - Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews, with Thurl Ravenscroft, Marni Nixon, Paul Frees and others
  • "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" - Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke with J. Pat O'Malley and others
  • "Stay Awake" - Julie Andrews
  • "I Love to Laugh" - Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews and Ed Wynn
  • "Feed the Birds" - Julie Andrews (Walt Disney's favorite song from the score, and the leadoff melody in the overture)
  • "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank" - Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and others
  • "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Performed several times with different lyrics by Dick Van Dyke; also performed by Van Dyke with Julie Andrews, Karen Dotrice, and Matthew Garber (won the Academy Award for Best Original Song)
  • "Step in Time" - Dick Van Dyke
  • "A Man Has Dreams" - David Tomlinson and Dick Van Dyke. This is a slower-paced rendition of "The Life I Lead" which incorporates a modified version of "A Spoonful of Sugar".
  • "Feed the Birds" - Orchestral and choral reprise, played over George's solitary walk to the bank at night.
  • "Let's Go Fly a Kite" - Glynis Johns, David Tomlinson, Dick Van Dyke and others.
  • Closing credits theme - Includes an instrumental reprise of "Spoonful of Sugar" followed by a choral reprise of "Let's Go Fly a Kite".

Deleted songs

A number of other songs were written for the film by the Sherman Brothers and either rejected or cut for time. Richard, on the 2004 DVD release, indicated that more than 30 songs were written at various stages of the film's development. No cast recordings of any of these songs have been released to the public, only demos or later performances done by the songwriters - with the exception of the rooftop reprise of "Chim-Chim-Cheree" and the "smoke staircase yodel" mentioned below.

  • "The Chimpanzoo", was originally to follow "I Love to Laugh" during the "ceiling tea party" sequence, but it was dropped from the soundtrack just before Julie Andrews and company were to record it. The fast-paced number was not unveiled to the public until Richard Sherman, aided by recently uncovered storyboards, performed it on the 2004 DVD edition. The recreation suggests it was to have been another sequence combining animation and live action. It was supposed to follow the adventures of Jane and Michael during a late night visit to the zoo.
  • "Practically Perfect" was intended to introduce Mary but instead the melody of the piece was used for "Sister Suffragette" (used to introduce Winifred). A different song with the same name was written for the stage musical.
  • "The Eyes of Love", a romantic ballad, was intended for Bert and Mary, but according to Richard Sherman, Julie Andrews suggested privately to Disney that this song was not suitable. In response, "A Spoonful of Sugar" was written.
  • "Mary Poppins Melody" was to be performed when Mary introduces herself to the children. Elements of the song later became part of "Stay Awake". The melody was the basis for a couple of other songs that were ultimately cut from the film.
  • "A Name's a Name". Heard on a recording taken of a meeting between the Sherman Brothers and P.L. Travers, this song was originally intended for the nursery scene that later became "A Spoonful of Sugar." The melody was reused for "Mary Poppins Melody".
  • "You Think, You Blink" was a short piece that Bert was to sing just before entering the chalk painting (and starting the "Jolly Holiday" sequence). In the film, Dick Van Dyke simply recites the lyric instead of singing it.
  • "West Wind" was a short ballad to be sung by Mary. The song was later retitled "Mon Amour Perdu" and used in the later Disney film, Big Red.
  • "The Right Side" was to be sung by Mary to Michael after he gets out of bed cranky. It was recycled for the Disney Channel television series, Welcome to Pooh Corner as Winnie the Pooh's personal theme song.
  • "Measure Up" was to accompany the scene in which Mary takes the tape measure to Jane and Michael.
  • "Admiral Boom" was to be the theme song for the cannon-firing neighbor of the Banks house, but it was cut by Walt Disney as being unnecessary. The melody of the song remains in the film, and the bombastic theme is heard whenever Boom appears onscreen. One line from this song ("The whole world takes its time from Greenwich, but Greenwich, they say, takes its time from Admiral Boom!") is spoken by Bert early in the film.
  • "Sticks, Paper and Strings" was an early version of "Let's Go Fly a Kite."
  • "Lead the Righteous Life", an intentionally poorly-written hymn, was to have been sung by Katie Nanna along with Jane and Michael prior to Mary's arrival. The melody was later reused for a similar song in The Happiest Millionaire
  • "The Pearly Song" was not deleted per se but was instead incorporated into "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".

The Compass Sequence, a precursor to "Jolly Holiday", was to be a multiple-song sequence. A number of possible musical components have been identified:

  • "South Sea Island Symphony"
  • "Chinese Festival Song"
  • "Tim-buc-too" - elements of this were reused for "The Chimpanzoo" which was also cut
  • "Tiki Town" - the melody was reused for "The Chimpanzoo"
  • "North Pole Polka"
  • "Land of Sand" - later rewritten as "Trust in Me" for the animated version of The Jungle Book
  • "The Beautiful Briny" - later used in Bedknobs and Broomsticks
  • "East is East" - another variation on the unused "Mary Poppins Melody".

Deleted scores and music

  • The "Step in Time" sequence ends with the chimney sweeps being scattered by an onslaught of fireworks fired from Admiral Boom's house. In the final film, the scene plays out with sound effects and no music. The DVD release included the original version of the scene which was accompanied by a complex instrumental musical arrangement that combined "Step in Time", the "Admiral Boom" melody (see above), and "A Spoonful of Sugar". This musical arrangement can be heard on the film's original soundtrack.
  • Andrews recorded a brief reprise of "Chim-Chim-Cheree" which was to have accompanied Mary, Bert, and the children as they marched across the rooftops of London (an instrumental reprise of "A Spoonful of Sugar" was used as a march instead; however, Andrews and Dick Van Dyke can still be seen and heard singing a reprise of "Chim-Chim-Cheree" in that sequence, just before the other chimney sweeps appear for the "Step in Time" number).
  • The robin Mary Poppins whistles with in "A Spoonful of Sugar" originally sang a lyric as well.
  • Andrews also recorded a brief yodel which breaks into the first line of "A Spoonful of Sugar" which was to have been used to "activate" the smoke staircase prior to the "Step in Time" number. Although cut from the film, footage of Andrews performing this exists and was included on the 2004 DVD. The DVD also indicates that an alternate version of the yodel performed by Dick Van Dyke may also exist.

Awards and honors

Academy Awards

The film received 13 Academy Awards nominations and won 5 awards.[1] This makes Mary Poppins the most Oscar-nominated Disney film in history.



American Film Institute recognition

National Film Registry recognition

  • Inducted in 2013
  • One of few Disney films on the list of films to be preserved by the Library of Congress

Box office performance

The film was the #1 moneymaker of 1965, earning a net profit of $28,500,000.[2][3] The Sound of Music was #2 with $20,000,000; Goldfinger was #3 at $19,700,000; and My Fair Lady was #4 at $19,000.000. The film received a 100% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 100 out of 100 on Metacritic.[2]

Home video releases

Main article: Mary Poppins (video)

The film was first released in the Early 1980's on VHS and laserdisc. In 1994, 1997 and 1999, it was re-released three times as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection. In 1998, this movie became Disney's first DVD. In 2000, it was released on VHS and DVD as part of the Gold Classic Collection. In 2004, it had a 2-Disc DVD release in a Digitally Restored 40th Anniversary Edition. On January 27, 2009, the film was released on DVD again as a 45th anniversary edition, with more language tracks and special features. A 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray was released in December 2013.


Disney has just announced a sequel to the film, which takes place 20 years after the first film. It will be a musical and it will focus on Mary's continued adventure with the Bank's family.[1]


The Disney Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Mary Poppins (film).


  1. Mary Poppins (1964) - Awards
  2. 2.0 2.1 (1980) Film Facts. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 25. ISBN 0-87196-313-2. 
  3. When a film is released late in a calendar year (October to December), its income is reported in the following year's compendium, unless the film made a particularly fast impact (Steinberg, p. 17)

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