For many of us Baby Boomers, Mary Poppins, was the ultimate film of our childhood and, it has really has stood the test of time. I watched it again last week. What would Christmas be without Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music, eh? And, I love it, just as much as I ever did.
Back in 1964, we all wanted to be Jane or Michael Banks. They were sharing their world with the perfectly perfect Julie Andrews as the immortal Mary Poppins who, just by clicking her fingers, was making their lives supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
When I first heard that Emily Blunt (Girl on a Train) was going to star as Mary in the 2018 production of Mary Poppins Returns, I said… noooo, you’ve GOT to be joking. Nobody can step into Julie Andrews’ Victorian button boots and prance around the rooftops of London singing like a nightingale. Let’s face it, Julie Andrew’s voice alone is an impossible act to follow.
But… I am delighted to say that one of my Christmas presents was a ticket to see Mary Poppins Returns and I was in the theatre last night, agog, missing my mouth, dropping popcorn down my front.
‘Close your mouth, Tessa Barrie, we are not a codfish.’
So, Emily, I take it all back, you nailed Mary Poppins, in your own inimitable way.
Disney brought in some of the powerhouses of modern cinema to make sure Mary Poppins’ return flew our kites to the highest height, including Colin Firth and Julie Walters, as well as a few surprises. Wheeling in Karen Dotrice, the original Jane Banks, was a nice touch, but you’ve got to be quick to spot her.
Another bastion of Disney magic, Angela Lansbury (Bedknobs and Broomsticks 1971 amongst a host of other fine productions), singing, pretty flawlessly, at ninety-three! And another spritely ninety-three-year-old, Dick van Dyke reprises his secondary role of Mr. Dawes Jr in the original production. I’ve love to know what they’re both sprinkling on their cornflakes in the mornings.
I missed hearing some of the classic and very memorable songs from the original film. The composer, Marc Shaiman, kind of teases you with the first few bars of Chim Chim Cheree or Let’s Go Fly a Kite then launches into one of the new numbers. But, I have no doubt that the new score will worm its way into my memory banks and I will become as word perfect as I am with the songs, if not the entire script, from the 1964 production. So, I can’t wait to add the DVD to my collection of Disney greats.
Mary Poppins Returns is warming the cockles of the hearts of a whole new generation, who in turn will pass it on to their sons and daughters, who will sing in grateful chorus… Well done! Well done! Well done, Disney you’ve done it again!
Whilst writing this, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the great actors that made the 1964 production of Mary Poppins such a magical experience for so many of us. Many are no longer with us, gone but never forgotten, for me they are all still living at number 17 Cherry Tree Lane, especially Matthew Garber, the little boy who warmed our hearts with his portrayal of Michael Banks, who so tragically died in 1977. He was just 21 years old.