Although the latest Tom Hanks movie Saving
Private Ry Mr.Banks (2013) is chock-full of delicious (carefully selected) information on how Disney went about getting his hands on PL Traver’s Mary Poppins & friends, we did find one fault with it – the ending gives the impression that Travers and Disney became best friends after the Mary Poppins’ premiere.
We thought this was worth pointing out especially as this film was meant to be a ‘sincere, heartfelt apology to P.L. Travers.’ (Disney, 2013). So, just to set the record straight – Travers hated the movie version (which we think is just brilliant), until the end of her days, and eternally regretted letting Walt, and even more so, Van Dyke, within an inch of her precious Mary Poppins.Now that that’s been said, here are a few points about the 1964 movie version of Mary Poppins – not Saving Mr.Banks – we thought you’d find interesting and perhaps didn’t know before!
MARY POPPINS WAS SHOT ON DISNEY’S SOUND STAGES.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but no, Mary Poppins was not really filmed in London Town. It was all filmed on intricate, beautifully crafted soundstages, and yes, painted backgrounds! which in our opinion, are one of the film’s best aspects.
DICK VAN DYKE WAS NOT A PROFESSIONAL DANCER.
According to the film’s choreographers Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood, he had never even studied dancing before leading this band of chimney sweeps through this intimidating dance sequence which spanned more than 12 minutes.
A COLLECTION OF TECHNIQUES WERE USED IN THE UNCLE ALBERT SEQUENCE
In the scene in Mary Poppins where Uncle Albert, Jane and Michael and Bert are laughing so much they have no choice but to float up to the ceiling (which makes one thank God for ceilings, no?), a number of different techniques were used very intelligently. Disney originally planned to have the actors suspended from wires, but then didn’t want to make the trick too obvious for the audience. So in one shot they’re suspended on wires on an actual set which resembled the roof, in the next (a duration of a couple of seconds tops), the background was keyed out. In a different shot, a completely new set was used (an exact replica of the original one, but with the difference that everything was upside down!) Another set featured another replica of this ceiling – but that was all it was – a solitary ceiling.
This was in 1964, 50 years ago – and this sequence still leaves us baffled about what technique is used at what time.
According to the film’s credits, Mr.Dawes, director of the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, was played by the unknown newcomer Navckid Keyd…
… otherwise known as Dick Van Dyke. Watch his screen test here
A SPOONFUL OF SHERMAN MAGIC
Very rarely did the legendary Sherman Brothers go wrong. Apart from the universally resented It’s A Small World After All, their music and lyrics seem to be delightfully ingrained in our collective childhoods. Their lyrics are witty, their tunes addictive. Their soundtrack C.V includes films like The Jungle Book (1967),Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). Now that’s a lot of memorable songs, but there is one that will always stand out – for the tune’s ability to make you sleepy, defying the lyric’s insistence to make you stay awake.
In any case, it is notable for being the only lullaby we know of which urges the listener not to sleep.