Mary Poppins, all the curiosities about the film of Disney's most magical nanny

Mary Poppins, all the curiosities about the film of Disney's most magical nanny

Mary Poppins

Just a little sugar and the pill goes down is just one of the most famous phrases taken from one of the films that have made the history of cinema and that has managed to win the hearts of young and old, generation after generation. The sweet and nice nurse who responds to the name of Mary Poppins is in fact the protagonist of the film of the same name, released for the first time on August 27, 1964 and which represented the highest grossing of that year at Disney.

Subscribe now to Disney + for € 8.99 per month or € 89.90 per year An indisputably successful film, so much so that it received 13 Oscar nominations, including one for best film and won five: Best Actress for Andrews, Best Editing, Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song for Chim Chim Cher-ee (Cam Caminì). Mary Poppins is considered Walt Disney's crowning glory in the making, at the time, of live-action and mixed media films, and if we know, even if only broadly, the plot of this story, we could say the same about some peculiarities related to it. to the creation of this small, great jewel in the history of cinema? Let's retrace some of these curiosities together, taking advantage of the day of the anniversary of Mary Poppins' premier.

Mary Poppins, the origins of the nanny of the Banks family

First of all, her origins. Mary Poppins is certainly a film imprinted in the common imagination, but few remember that it is not an original screenplay but an adaptation of a series of novels. These were written from 1934 to 1988 by the writer P.L. Travers, stories of which Walt Disney immediately learned because his daughter Diane loved them particularly, and had suggested to his father that there might be interesting material there for a production of his father. So the negotiation with the writer was opened, but she was distant and not very appreciative of the Disney films, as she found them ridiculous because of the good feelings proposed, so the negotiations were really complex, so much so that they began in 1938 and even concluded. twenty years later about.

Relive the magic of DISNEY + and this title by browsing the catalog of the platform comfortably with the whole family thanks to the annual (with 60 days free) or monthly subscription. | ); } The writer was offered $ 100,000 in advance and a percentage of the film's earnings, a proposal that could not be refused, to paraphrase The Godfather, even if this amount was not enough to change her judgment on the production, considering the film deplorable.

Despite this, before dying in 1996 he agreed to the making of a musical based on the film version, allowing the sequel of a few years ago and telling the relationship between Disney and Travers also in Saving Mr Banks, a 2013 film with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. If obtaining the rights was really difficult, at least the overall result at the box office paid off: in 1966, in addition to being the film that grossed the most that year, with over 100 million dollars (surpassing the film competitor My Fair Lady which stopped at 72 million), it was also the first feature film from the Mickey Mouse house to win a nomination for best film of the year and winning five Oscars, as mentioned above.

The choice of actors and a timeless soundtrack

Awards obtained thanks also to a truly commendable cast, starting with Julie Andrews, an established Broadway star before meeting the cinema with this first role in the role of Mary Poppins, played by chance: the actress had always tried to get a starring role in My Fair Lady, but that part went to Audrey Hepburn and accepted Walt Disney's proposal, despite at the time the actress was three months pregnant. Disney therefore decided to postpone filming her until the end of her pregnancy in order to have her in the cast, thus surpassing actresses like Bette Davis and Angela Lansbury for this role. The same could not be said of Dick Van Dyke, as Bert and chosen by Disney after he watched his TV show The Dick Van Dyke Show.

The actor also strongly wanted to disguise himself and play the old Mr Dawes (in the credits indicated with the anagram Navckid Keyd), and according to some rumors he had to make a charitable donation to to be able to get the second role. In the original version, Van Dyke was heavily criticized at the time for his unconvincing Cockney accent, due to his American origin, but this did not stop him from being the only protagonist of the original cast to also participate in the subsequent film The Return of. Mary Poppins.

These two actors, in addition to being the protagonists of the story, are also interpreters of several songs, composed by the Sherman brothers, including the timeless Supercalifragilistichespiralidoso (in original Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious), certainly one of the best known songs that they also introduced a new word into the common language, but at the time it was just a nonsense expression that in the film is said to be used "to say something when you have nothing to say". Some scholars, including Richard Lederer, have tried to give it a meaningful etymology (super– "above", cali– "beautiful", fragilistic - "fragile", expiali - "marvel", and - docious "polite"), but still today it is not known what the origin of the word is, even if the meaning of its parts in the original version could be:

“make amends for the possibility of teaching through delicate beauty”.

It is also true that the Sherman brothers themselves sometimes claimed to have invented it completely, sometimes to have created it by drawing inspiration from some children. So this particular "magic word" remains shrouded in mystery. In 1965, two musicians, Gloria Parker and Barney Young, tried to sue Disney for their 1949 song called Supercalafajalistickespeealadojus, but without success. Speaking of songs, it is good to remember that all the actors sang live on the set, even if the voices heard are those of the studio recordings. The only exception is the Cam Caminì sequence, entirely mimed; in fact, there is an 'offstage' by Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews who, to arouse irony in the little ones and in the director, exchanged voices: Dick pretends to sing with Julie's voice and vice versa.

A production that is not without inconsistencies

As for the production of the film, we are talking about a film whose scenes were all shot indoors, with dancers hanging in a brilliant way and who succeed to make impossible movements, because they are supported by cables, and with characters worthy of attention, such as the interpretation of Dick Van Dyke in the role of Bert and the elderly banker Mr. Dawes Senior. A character, the latter, that Walt Disney wanted to bring on stage with an adequate age, as the elderly "bird lady" who asks for two pennies to feed the doves, played by the over eighty year old Jane Darwell, who disappeared shortly after filming the part her.

But there are some curiosities about the inconsistencies related to the making of this film: during the opening credits we see Mary Poppins on a cloud, where in the foreground she has to his right the umbrella with the tip in the cloud and to his left the bag, while in the following long shot the two objects have disappeared. Later, when Mr. Banks tears an 8-part letter and throws it into the fireplace, it is then fished out by Mary Poppins, who, however, takes the pieces out of the chimney and they become 16. Again, while Bert talks to the children in the park. , adds some tweaks to his drawings on the road, but the arm he paints is another person's, because he is too high to get to the drawing without bowing. Even when he strokes the rabbit's head but his hand remains distant simply because the cartoon could not see him.

A Dick Van Dyke getting older, but getting younger

Let's conclude now with a short parenthesis on Dick Van Dyke, who turned 95 in 2020 and the director of The Return of Mary Poppins, Rob Marshall, had said he was moved when he had accepted to return in the role of the very old Mr. Dawes Jr ., one of the associates of the Bank where Mr. Banks works and had left everyone speechless with a wonderful tap dance sequence on his office desk.

Please enjoy Dick Van Dyke singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious at age 94 pic.

- Lucy Thackray (@LucyThack) November 4, 2020

While the actor has starred in more than 70 films, the his popularity remains unquestionably linked to Mary Poppins, who had crowned him the s pazzacamino most loved in cinema. In fact, in that cult film Van Dyke played both Bert, friend of Mary Poppins and handyman, artist of chalk drawings and seller of roasted chestnuts, as well as of course chimney sweep on the roofs of London, and the president of the Bank Mr. Dawes Senior, ancestor of the character of 2019. As we said above, Walt Disney had no intention of letting him play Mr. Dawes Sr. too, but Van Dyke was adamant and proposed to do it for free, until he convinced him by paying $ 4,000 to play him. For Van Dyke, one thing is certain, when he said: "If you go back, I would pay those 4000 dollars to play him".

An actor who, at over 95 years of age, still knows how to be very young in spirit, just like the good feelings that still leak out from an evergreen film like Mary Poppins'.

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