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Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 5, 2013 by  



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With improved picture quality and fantastic lossless audio, the 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release of “Mary Poppins” is a fantastic release for those who loved the film and those wanting to introduce the film to a new generation.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1964

DURATION: 139 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1, English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Original English Theatrical Mix. Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

COMPANY: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

RATED: G (General Audiences)

Release Date: December 10, 2013

Directed by Robert Stevenson

Screenplay by Bill Walsh, Don Dagradi

Based on the Mary Poppins Books by P.L. Travers

Co-Producer: Bill Walsh

Music and Lyrics by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman

Music Supervised and Conducted by Irwin Kostal

Starring:

Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke as Bert/Mr. Dawes, Sr.

David Tomlinson as Mr. Banks

Glynis Johns as Mrs. Banks

Hermione Baddeley as Ellen

Karen Dotrice as Jane Banks

Matthew Garber as Michael Banks

Elsa Lanchester as Katie Nanna

Arthur Treacher as the Constable

Ed Wynn as Uncle Albert

Released from the Disney Vault in celebration of its 50th Anniversary, this beloved classic shines like never before on Blu-ray with an all-new digital restoration. Winner of five Academy Awards(R), including Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”) and Best Visual Effects, Mary Poppins is a movie experience your family will enjoy over and over again.

“Practically Perfect In Every Way” Mary Poppins flies out of the windy London skies and into the home of two mischievous children. With the help of a carefree chimney sweep named Bert (Dick Van Dyke), the spirited nanny turns every chore into a game and every day into a “Jolly Holiday.” Share the music, share the magic, share the joy of Mary Poppins with a whole new generation for the first time on Disney Blu-ray.The movie received 13 Academy Award(R) nominations and won 5 Oscars(R) for Best Actress, Best Song, Best Music Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Special Visual Effects. It also received a special scientific award for the creation and application of Color Traveling Matte Composite Cinematography, which helped make the combination of live action and animated actors in the film possible.

A fantastic and magical family film, “Mary Poppins” continues to be a Disney classic that would win five Academy Awards and would be remembered for being a film that combined Disney’s cartoon animation and real characters, the film debut of Julie Andrews but most of all, the spectacular chemistry and musical dance numbers featuring songs that continue to be classics.

Having been released with many special features especially for it’s 45th anniversary, for the very first time, “Mary Poppins” will be released on Blu-ray to celebrate the film’s 50th Anniversary with a release of “Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition” in Dec. 2013 courtesy of Disney featuring the film a Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy combo featuring an all-new digital restoration, 7.1 lossless sound and all new special features.

So, for those who are not familiar with the Disney musical classic “Mary Poppins”, “Mary Poppins” debuted back in 1964 and is about the Banks family.

Mr. Banks (portrayed by David Tomlinson) is a person who holds himself to the highest degree.  He works at Dawes Tomes Mousley Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in the City of London, lives in an exquisite home and lives with his wife Mrs. Banks (portrayed by Glynis Johns) who is involved in the women’s suffrage movement and have two children Jane and Michael.

Mr. Banks has to constantly hire a Nannie and the problem is that his children tend to frighten their nannies away with their practical jokes.  If anything, they cause a little mischief for attention because they simply feel that their father does not care for them.  Although, Mrs. Banks has a clue, Mr. Banks is more focused on his job and making sure the children learn from the best and are well-disciplined.

While searching for a new nannie, the children make their own prerequisites that they show their father.  But not liking what they want, he rips their letter and throws it in the fireplace.  The pieces of the letter eventually go up the chimney and next thing you know, the day of the interviews with the nannies, Mary Poppins (portrayed by Julie Andrews) shows up to the Banks home ready to assume her position as the new nannie.

Mary Poppins instantly bonds with the children and takes them to another world with her friend Bert (portrayed by Dick Van Dyke) to entertain the children and eventually, trying to find ways to get the Banks family to bond and for the parents to care more for their children.

“Mary Poppins” is a family-friendly and wonderful film that continues to be timeless no matter how old you are when viewing it.  From the musical performances to the music and overall planning for this film, it still continues to impress me today.  And what best than to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of “Mary Poppins” but to watch and listen to the film in HD for the very first time with Disney’s Blu-ray release of “Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition”.

VIDEO:

“Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Presented in 1:66:1, “Mary Poppins” on Blu-ray features a new digital restoration and for the most part, compared to the 40th and 45th anniversary DVD releases, this Technicolor film improves in the animated scenes with much clarity and sharpness and vibrant colors.  While the film does show its age, I’m glad that Disney did leave the grain structure intact.  While not pristine, in terms of clarity and sharpness, this is the best version I have seen of the film to date.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and the original English theatrical mix.  For a film that utilizes music, I wasn’t sure how the 7.1 lossless soundtrack would be utilized.  But the surround channels gives more depth to the music although I didn’t notice much use of the rear surround channels, but how the surround channels were utilized for the music, was well-done and gives more musical immersion which is a plus.  And for those who are purists, the good news for this release is that Disney includes the original English theatrical mix Dolby Digital 2.0 mix.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition” features the following special features:

  • Becoming Mr. Sherman – (14:01) A featurette about the upcoming film “Saving Mr. Banks” feature P.L. Travers visiting Disney studios and cast member Jason Schwarzman (who plays Richard Sherman in the film) sits with the real Richard Sherman.
  • Mary-Oke – (7:58) Sing along to the music from “Mary Poppins” with lyrics featured on screen.
  • Mary Poppins from Page to Stage – (48:06) First a beloved children’s book, then a classic movie and now a smash hit Broadway musical! Fans can follow the story of Mary Poppins from page to stage as the creative team and cast discuss the creation of the musical production and preparations for the upcoming North American tour.
  • Step in Time—(7:08) The Broadway cast of Mary Poppins performs the never-before-filmed number “Step in Time” from the show.
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making of Mary Poppins – (50:46) The definitive behind-the-scenes.  This featurette takes a look at how this unique and beloved film came into being.  Featuring interviews with the cast and learning so much about the film.  A great featurette.
  • The Gala World Premiere—(17:45) Footage from the Red Carpet.  This was aired on television as a one hour special but the footage had been lost.  Several minutes (not the complete version) of the archived film of this premiere was found in two countries, a black and white version and color and it was pieced together to create the 17+ minutes of footage from the red carpet premiere.
  • The Gala World Premiere Party – (6:23) Featuring recently rediscovered 16 mm of the red carpet premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Audio is from a radio broadcast.
  • Movie Magic – (7:05) A look at the special effect techniques used to bring the magical world of Mary Poppins to life.  For 1964, to combine both animation and live action film together and create this magical world was a technical marvel.  So, this featurette was also great to watch!
  • Deconstruction of a Scene: Jolly Holiday – (13:03) Featuring the “Jolly in Holiday” scene and a comparison of what it looked like in actual filming and after via post-production.
  • Deconstruction of a Scene: Step in Time – (4:52) Featuring the “Step in Time” scene and a comparison of what it looked like in actual filming and after via post-production.
  • Dick Van Dyke Make-Up Test – (1:07) How Dick Van Dyke was made to look like the very old bank owner with make up and all.
  • Publicity – From the original 1964 trailers, TV spots, Julie Andrews theater premiere greeting and the re-issue trailers from 1966, 1973 and much more.
  • Magical Musical Reunion – (17:19) Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and songwriter Richard Sherman reminisce about making Mary Poppins and the music that makes it so special.  A fantastic featurette especially to see them sing once more.  Fantastic!
  • Deleted Song – “Chimpanzoo” – (1:38) A reconstruction of a song that did not appear in the movie using original storyboard and concept art, accompanied by a new rendition of the song performed by co-composer Richard Sherman.
  • Disney Song Selection – Sing to various songs featured in the film with lyrics shown on screen (optional)
  • Mary Poppins Still Art Galleries – A lot of art was created for this film.  So, these are the still art galleries.
  • Bonus Short: The Cat That Looked at a King—(9:52) Live action and animation bring a chapter of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins Opens the Door to life! Julie Andrews takes viewers into a magical animated world created in the style of the whimsical chalk drawings in Mary Poppins.  This segment is about 10 minutes long.
  • Audio Commentary—Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice and Richard Sherman recall the making of Mary Poppins.  Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke did a commentary one one day, Karen Dotrice (plays the daughter in the film) and film and songwriter, Richard Sherman did a commentary on the following day.  Both commentaries are spliced together and done quite well.  What I found so fantastic is that Julie Andrews has not watched the complete film since the premiere back in 1964, so this was her first time watching it completely since then.  And to hear these talents just commenting on different parts of the film and what they remember of doing those scenes was just nostalgic and informative.  What a great commentary!

EXTRAS:

“Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film plus a code for a Digital copy.  Also, a slipcover is included.

“Mary Poppins” is definitely a true classic.  The film was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and eventually winning five academy awards for Best Actress, Film Editing, Music Score, Music Song for “Chim-Chim-Cheree” and Special Visual Effects”.

It’s hard to believe that in 1964, there were two major musicals being created “Mary Poppins” and “My Fair Lady”, “My Fair Lady” which eventually went to Audrey Hepburn and “Mary Poppins” going to the unknown actress Julie Andrews.   It was probably a blessing that Julie Andrews wasn’t cast for “My Fair Lady” since “Mary Poppins” really jumpstarted Andrews career and eventually winning her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Of course, actor Dick van Dyke was popular with his television series “The Dick Van Dyke Show” but these two talents and their musical performance were well done.  I was quite impressed by how both would nail their dances and have them in sync and Julie Andrews would comment how the most difficult part of the film was syncing their mouths to the song and making sure their foot would match for that moment.

This film back in 1964 introduced a family film with state of the art technology at that time. Real life actors working together with animated humans and animals, the actors flying around and most importantly, the music that came from this film.  Classics such as “A Spoonful of Sugar”, the award winning song “Chim-Chim-Cheree”, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)”, to name a few.  But what I discovered by watching the special feature was how important it was for Walt Disney.

“Mary Poppins” by P.L. Travers was created back in 1934 and for 20 years, Walt Disney would try unsuccessfully to get the rights for the film.  But he eventually managed to and while on one hand, really making sure the cast and the staff were well taken care of, it was quite surprising to know how much P.L. Travers actually detested the film (she wanted the animation to be eliminated).    So, there are interesting tidbits including audio that appears on the special features of Travers showing her discontent as an adviser to the film.  So, you get to learn more about this through a featurette on the DVD.  But it shows you how much Walt Disney really wanted “Mary Poppins” and how he tried so hard to get the rights to it.  But you really learned how much love went into the creation of this film and how much Walt Disney wanted this film to be loved.

Just interesting details of how special he wanted this film, from giving people a chance such as signing Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman (the Sherman Brothers) to a contract to write and compose music for “Mary Poppins” (and future Disney films), casting an unknown Julie Andrews which Walt Disney loved her performance in “Camelot”.  Disney wanted her to be Mary Poppins and despite her being pregnant at the time, he waited for her until after she gave birth to become part of the film.   Another tidbit was while meeting with Julie,  Walt Disney met her husband at the time, Tony Walton (a costume and set designer) and eventually giving him a chance to work on “Mary Poppins” (who also eventually inspired the Sherman Brothers for the music of “Winnie the Pooh”).

And my favorite tidbit, of Walt Disney casting well-known actress from the early 1900′s Jane Darwell in the “Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)” in what would be her final role, which was his way of giving her a special thank you to her for her accomplishments in film.  These are just among the few interesting tidbits from behind-the-scenes that one will learn through the various featurettes included on the Blu-ray release.

As for the Blu-ray release, prior to this release, there has been five previously released versions of “Mary Poppins” on DVD.    When Disney released the 40th Anniversary “Mary Poppins” on DVD back in 2004, it was hard to imagine how Disney could top that with the 45th Anniversary edition.  Surprisingly, Disney managed to pull of another spectacular release with the 45th Anniversary edition with even more special features than the original.

First, let me say that in my original review, I was quite complimentary of the 45th anniversary edition because it included the “Mary Poppins: From Page to stage” which includes a fantastic documentary on the making of the Tony Award winning musical produced with Cameron Mackintosh.  Despite P.L. Travers really disliking the Walt Disney film, “Mary Poppins” was eventually given a musical treatment after P.L. Travers gave Cameron Mackintosh the OK but of course with certain guidelines in her will and testament before her death.  The good news is that this featurette is included on the Blu-ray release.

The primary guideline was that a musical could be created with the understanding that only English born writers and no one from the original film production could be involved with the creative process of the musical.  The musical was a great hit in the UK but when it came to doing the musical in the US, this is where things definitely gets interesting and Disney manages to create a lengthy featurette on the process of creating the musical in the US, also a featured performance of a “Step in Time”.

That 45th Anniversary DVD gave people an opportunity for people to download the MP3 and also a chance for people to see Bob Crowley’s designs for the musical, this 50th Anniversary Blu-ray release does not.  While the MP3 (featuring the Broadway cast of Mary Poppins singing “Step in Time,” featuring Ashley Brown as Mary Poppins and Gavin Lee as Bert) is not a major loss as it was special for the 45th Anniversary DVD release, I was surprised that featurettes such as “A Musical Journey with Richard Sherman”, “Video Intro by Scenic & Costume Designer, Bob Crowley” and “Bob Crowley’s Design Galleries” were not included.

But for the loss of those featurettes, you do gain other featurettes such as the “Beginning Mr. Sherman” featurette to tie into the film “Saving Mr. Banks”, “Mary-Oke”, two deconstruction dance scenes and the “Gala World Premiere Party”.

But when it comes down to it, while the 45th Anniversary DVD release was fantastic, the 50th Anniversary Blu-ray release is no doubt for those who want to watch the film in HD. Improved picture quality, crystal clear audio, which sounds fantastic on Blu-ray!

“Mary Poppins” is a film that is close to my heart.  For one, it’s a film that I grew up with as a child and I still have many memories watching the film at the local Fox Theater with my mother and brother and literally growing up with this film later on with each video release.  And having reviewed the film five years ago, for it’s 45th Anniversary, here we are again with a 50th Anniversary review but this time, watching and listening to the film in High Definition.

While 45th Anniversary DVD owners should be fine with that wonderful release and may not need to upgrade (especially if they don’t own a Blu-ray player or the hardware to take advantage of 7.1 sound), for those who do, this 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release is for those who simply love “Mary Poppins” and want to watch and listen to it in HD and hearing my room immersed with the music was a great experience and another new experience that I have had watching this film again.  It’s definitely the definitive version of the movie at this current time!

With improved picture quality and fantastic lossless audio, the 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release of “Mary Poppins” is a fantastic release for those who loved the film and those wanting to introduce the film to a new generation.  Highly recommended!

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