MARY POPPINS

(1964)
With Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Ed Wynn, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Reviewed by JL

It's a jolly holiday     Walt Disney's MARY POPPINS ranks with THE WIZARD OF OZ as among the greatest family entertainments ever committed to film.  In adapting P.J. Travers's tales of a magical nanny who "fixes broken homes," Walt Disney (who was more directly involved with this production than usual) had learned from experience that the best children's films are those that depict children empowered by an innate morality that makes them wiser than most of the adults around them.  It's the sort of wisdom that often has to be re-learned in the adult world, as George Banks (David Tomlinson), the stern and pragmatic father, eventually does.  His realization that discipline and rules are well and good, but not at the expense of denying his children a childhood, is the turnabout that resolves all conflicts.  Making her motion-picture debut as Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews gives an Oscar-winning performance that is as confident and assured as one would expect from a seasoned screen veteran.  And though Dick Van Dyke may exhibit a notoriously bogus Cockney accent, his performance as Bert is endlessly inventive and consistently ingratiating.  In all, MARY POPPINS is a timeless classic that still stands as the best live-action film ever produced by the Disney studio. 5 - JL

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