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Film: Mary Poppins
"Wind's in the east, mist comin' in, like somethin' is brewin', and 'bout to begin..."


Describe Mary Poppins? She's "practically perfect in every way," of course.

If that's too much of a mouthful for you, she's also a magical nanny, who literally flies into the life of the Banks family of London, England, circa 1910. When most people hear the name they think of Walt Disney's 1964 movie starring Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dyke as Bert.

It has been adapted to a musical theater adaptation; this version replaces some of the less stageable aspects of the original film (as in the penguins and Uncle Albert's floating) with elements of the original books by P. L. Travers.

The film was nominated for multiple Oscars, including a win for Julie Andrews as Best Actress, and is now considered a childhood staple on both sides of the Pond.

The movie Saving Mr. Banks focuses around the long Development Hell the film underwent as Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) tried getting the rights from PL Travers (Emma Thompson). It was released in December 2013 for Oscar Bait purposes, eventually earning a nomination for Best Score (and losing to Gravity).

Just a Spoonful Of Tropes'll Make the Article Go Down, the article go down, the article go down:

  • Adapted Out: In the books, Mr. and Mrs. Banks had five children (Jane, Michael, John, Barbara, and Annabelle) and three servants (Mrs. Brill, Ellen, and Robertson Ay). In both the film and stage show, only Jane and Michael appear and the servants are different between the two (Ellen in the movie and Robertson Ay in the musical accompany Mrs. Brill).
  • Adorkable: Bert has his moments of endearing awkwardness, mostly around Mary Poppins.
  • Almighty Janitor: Bert, despite being a variety job man that includes chimney sweeper, chalk painter, etc. Seems to be one of the most well connected people in the movie. The upper class seem to respect him, he is an associate of Mary, and is implied to have some magic at his disposal.
  • Ash Face: Mary Poppins and the children get covered in soot when they're sucked up the chimney. Bert, naturally as a chimney sweep, is already covered in soot as is.
  • Acting for Two:
    • Dick Van Dyke does Bert and Mr. Dawes, Sr.
    • In addition to playing Mr. Banks, David Tomlinson voices Mary Poppins's umbrella. He also voiced some of the animated characters in the chalk drawing scene.
    • Julie Andrews whistled for the robin and was one of the female pearlies during "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."
    • In the musical, depending on the production, the actress who plays Miss Andrew also plays either Queen Victoria or the Bird Woman.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted when Mary goes up the chimney and - along with the others - winds up with an Ash Face. She actually runs with it, using some black makeup to darken her face some more.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
  • Bag of Holding: Mary Poppins's carpetbag.
  • But Now I Must Go: Mary Poppins will stay until the wind changes, which happens around the time the family she is tending to develops into better people. After that, she quietly leaves, without so much as a goodbye.
    • In the stage show, she does say goodbye to Bert and gives him a kiss on the cheek.
  • Character Development: Mary Poppins' presence seems to cause character development. After she works for the Bankses, all four members of the household gain a new perspective to some degree, but the most drastic change would be Mr. Banks' transformation from aloof and distant patriarch to concerned and loving family man.
  • The Comically Serious: Mr. Banks. Especially during the chimney sweep scene.
  • Composite Character: Bert's character in the film and stage show is a combination of his portrayal as the Matchman and the Sweep character, both from the book series.
  • Cut Song: Among others in the film:
    • "The Land of Sand" brought Mary Poppins and the children to a desert. The melody became recycled for "Trust in Me" from The Jungle Book.
    • "The Beautiful Briny Sea" had Mary and the children travel underwater. The song later received a number in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
    • "Chimpanzoo" told of a place in which animals could watch humans misbehave inside cages. The tune became used for a song in Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland.
    • The stage play is not without its cut songs either. "What I Can Do," a number for Mrs. Banks, and "She's Ever So Mary Poppins" were two written, but cut for various reasons.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mary Poppins has her moments.
  • The Edwardian Era: The setting of the film and the play.
  • Happily Married: George and Winifred Banks. He may start out a stuffy old bore, but even at the very beginning there's no doubt he and his wife truly love each other.
  • Hilarity Ensues
  • Homeless Pigeon Person: The Bird Woman
  • Inexplicably Awesome: Mary is a classic example. She never explains anything, after all.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Jane and Michael.
  • Musical Chores: "A Spoonful of Sugar"
  • Neologism: "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", although there is some dispute about whether the movie invented the word or merely popularized it. note 
    • Richard Sherman has mentioned the song and the purpose of it was inspired by summer camp memories he and Robert had, where they would have contests to come up with words longer than antidisestablishmentarianism. He and Robert decided to put different parts of words together, getting the "atrocious" and "precocious" rhyme early on. note 
  • Parasol Parachute: It goes up as well as down.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film brings together highlights from the original Mary Poppins book, while taking elements of the sequels.
    • The stage adaptation does this with the entire Mary Poppins book series as well as the film.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mr. Banks to Mr. Dawes Sr. when he informs him that when it comes down to it, an old man who sits alone in a bank is nothing compared to the love of a man's children.
    • Brought back in the musical, but Mr. Banks instead talks about the importance of people over profits. There's one twist though: Mr. Banks doesn't loose his job in the end. Instead, the offer he turned down, which lead him to be suspended from his job in Act 1, ruined the rival bank. The one he did approve went through and the bank is to make a fortune from it. After Winifred arrives to support him, he gets promoted to Senior Manager at twice... triple... quadruple his current salary. He accepts the job on the condition that his family comes first.
  • Setting Update: Inverted, since the books took place in The Thirties.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Starting when Mr. Banks is called to the bank to be fired for his kids starting the run on the bank and Mr. Banks confides to Bert at the awful prospect of losing his dreams and unable to support his family while Bert reminds him that his children will only be around a short time as well, so he must treasure their love as well.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Mary can talk to animals. She uses it to her advantage to free Miss Andrew's lark Caruso from his cage.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Used at the beginning to indicate trouble in the Banks family. At the film, it's also used at the end to indicate that all is well, now.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: And yes, Mr. Banks learns to have fun with his kids by the end. In a heartwarming twist (likely not included in any other version of this Trope), the kids get an aesop on the subject as well; just because their parents aren't around as much as they'd like doesn't mean they don't love them. And also that being a grown-up and providing for a family is very hard, and you shouldn't be too hard in judging them.
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Bert. The implied answer being "because he feels like it."
    Bert: Me, I was told when I was small,
    "Just learn a trade!" So, I learned them all.

The film provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: The sequence when Jane and Michael flee the bank in a panic and wander into the East End slums where they are grabbed by a dark stranger. Fortunately, the scariness is instantly dispelled when the dark man is revealed to be their trusted friend, Bert.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: The basis of a plot-important joke:
    "I know a man with a wooden leg called Smith."
    "Really? What was the name of his other leg?"
  • Animated Actors
  • Angel Unaware: Mary Poppins. She's seen putting her makeup on while sitting waist-deep in a cloudbank, for heaven's sake. Possibly Bert too, though his magical powers aren't as reliable.
  • Banister Slide: Mary Poppins and the children before going out to the park. She also inverts this physically by going up the banister at one point.
  • Berserk Button: When Michael wants to use his tuppence to feed the birds, do not snatch the coins out of his hand.
    Mr. Dawes, Sr.: Welcome to our joyful family of investors!
    Michael [loud enough for the entire bank to hear]: GIVE IT BACK!
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander:
    • Mrs. Banks
    • Mr. Banks too at times, when not dealing with his job.
    • The Banks family's eccentric neighbor, Admiral Boom, an insane old navy man who made a ship out of his house, cannon and all.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Gold Key Comics published a rather accurate comic book version of the film, complete with song lyrics.
  • Contagious Laughter
  • Continuity Cameo: The people Bert sings to in the opening of the movie are all supporting characters from the book series.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The carpetbag again. Mary Poppins also has a makeup compact containing soot. Y'know, just in case she gets sucked up a chimney, has soot on her face, and wants to add a little more.
  • Dark Reprise: To "The Life I Lead", after Mr. Banks is fired.
  • Development Gag: "Stay Awake" uses a slowed-down version of Mary Poppins' rejected Leitmotif.
  • Digital Destruction: The 2004 DVD release featured an "Enhanced Home Theater Mix" audio track, which tampered the audio quite a bit, with nearly all of the sound effects replaced, and a few bits of new music added where there originally wasn't any. (Obvious examples include the wind when Mary Poppins is sitting on a cloud, the "Poof!" noise when the character jump into the chalk drawing, the thunder and lightning before it starts raining on the chalk drawing, and the fireworks following the "Step in Time" number.) Sadly, this version was also used whenever ABC Family aired the movie. Fortunately, Disney released a new DVD in 2009 with the new sound effects gone.
  • Dish Dash: The Banks household scrambles to keep their furnishings from falling over every time Admiral Boom fires his cannon.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: In "Supercalifragilisticexpalidocious" (even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious), one large cartoon woman plays a percussion instrument by slamming it on her diminutive husband's head.
    Mary Poppins: ♪Better use it carefully, or it can change your life.♪
    Husband: For example...
    Mary Poppins: Yes?
    Husband: Once I said it to me girl, and now me girl's me wife.
    Wife slams instrument on Husband's head.
    Husband: And a lovely thing she is, too.
  • Dream Ballet: Performed by Bert and Mary in the middle of "Jolly Holiday". Even his cane and her parasol get in on the act!
  • Epic Rocking: "Step in Time", at 8:42.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: The penguin waiters in the animated sequence.
  • Expospeak Gag: Variant. No expospeak as such, but as it's a kid's movie this line has the same effect as one:
    Tradition, discipline, and rules
    Must be the tools
    Without them, disorder!
    Catastrophe! Anarchy!
    In short, you have a ghastly mess!
    • Later, this expospeak is heard again with a few different words that still mean the same thing:
    Tradition, discipline, and rules
    Must be the tools
    Without them, disorder!
    Chaos! Moral disintegration!
    In short, you have a ghastly mess!
  • Forced Meme: About a dozen of them in-universe during the "Step in Time" number. These include "Step in time" itself, "Kick your knees up," "Flap like a birdie," "Mary Poppins," "Votes for women," "It's the master," and (hilariously) "Aahhh!"
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Mary Poppins is melancholic, Bert is sanguine, Winifred Banks is phlegmatic, and George Banks is choleric.
  • Fourth Wall Observer: Bert addresses the audience directly at the start of the film.
  • Full-Name Basis: It's rare for anyone to use less than Mary Poppins' full name.
  • The Film of the Book: Travers and Walt Disney's battles were lengthy.
  • Get Thee to a Nunnery: The "go fly a kite" joke is often lost on modern audiences. The phrase was once used as a family-friendly version of "Go fuck yourself," but is almost never used this way today. (Which, of course, is why Constable Jones apologizes after using it on the telephone.)
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: During the "Jolly Holiday" number, Mary praises Bert for "never think[ing] of pressing your advantage" on a lady, with the implication that other men would do that.
  • Gilded Cage: Bert references this to Jane and Michael when they question their father's love for them. Stating that his job is cold, heartless and difficult but he faces it every day for his family's sake.
  • Girly Skirt Twirl: Taken Up to Eleven during the dance scene on the roof, when Mary twirls so hard she goes flying for a few seconds (although the flying bit isn't focused on the skirt, because it's part of the choreography).
  • Go Out with a Smile: Mr. Dawes, Sr. dies as he finally gets a joke.
  • Great Way to Go: What the characters say about the above Go Out with a Smile.
  • Henpecked Husband: In the cartoon band sequence, as comedy.
  • Homeless Pigeon Person: Feed the Birds. "Early each day, to the steps of Saint Paul's, the little old woman comes..."
  • The Hyena: Uncle Albert
  • Hypocritical Singing: Mary sings a lullabye to the kids entitled "Stay Awake."
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Hilariously parodied when Mr. Banks is fired from the bank.
  • Jaw Drop: When Michael sees Mary Poppins slide up the banister.
    "Close your mouth please, Michael. We are not a codfish."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mr. Banks.
  • Late to the Punchline/Parental Bonus: Watch it as a kid and you'll get a thoroughly entertaining movie. Watch it again twenty years later and you'll suddenly be able to understand a whole host of jokes and subplots that you couldn't possibly have gotten as a kid, either for want of experience or vocabulary, or simply because the adults were talking too fast.
  • Long List: All the things Michael's tuppence could do for England.
    George Banks: You see, Michael, you'll be part of: railways through Africa...
    Mr. Dawes Sr.: Exactly!
    George: Dams across the Nile...
    Dawes: The ships, tell them about the ships!
    George: Fleets of ocean greyhounds...
    Dawes: More, tell them more!
    George: Majestic, self-aggrandizing canals...
    Dawes: How it fires the imagination!
    George: Plantations of ripening tea...
  • Love Epiphany: When facing the senior partners, Mr. Banks is at a loss for words until he discovers his son's tuppences in his pocket and he finally understands the most important thing in his life should be his family and not this cold bank.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Stay Awake". It's a lullaby. A very effective one.
    • Also, Bert's own variation on the upbeat "Spoonful Of Sugar", sung as a lyrical Aesop to Mr. Banks.
  • Magical Guardian: Mary Poppins.
  • Magical Nanny: The original, endlessly referenced and parodied.
  • Matte Shot: Since the entire film was shot on a soundstage, Peter Ellenshaw made sixty-four matte paintings to recreate the vistas and skies of Edwardian London.
  • Meaningful Name: Mr. Banks and Admiral Boom. Also the admiral's assistant Mr. Binnacle
  • Medium Blending: When they interacted with animated characters inside Bert's paintings.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: American robins in England, despite there being another species native to the British Isles with the same name. The penguins might also count, but it is a fantasy world after all.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: Mr. Banks's employers.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Winifred Banks had no first name in the books.
  • Never My Fault: Mr. Dawes Sr. and the rest of the Senior Partners fail to realize it was their actions which led to the run on the bank, not Michael nor his sister nor father, as it was Mr. Dawes Sr. who took Michael's money by force.
  • Nice Guy: Bert.
  • Noble Bigot: George and Winifred display mild sexist attitudes toward each other, with George speaking of his wife as if she is one of his many "subjects"; while Winifred, in her Straw Feminist song "Sister Suffragette", proclaims: "Though we adore men individually, we agree that, as a group, they're rather stupid."
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Ed Wynn in his brief appearance as Uncle Albert.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: "Ahh! They're at it again!", "They're at it again, step in time! They're at it again, step in time!"
  • One-Man Band: Bert operates one near the beginning.
  • One Steve Limit: Minor aversion. One of the female names rattled off in the penguin scene is "Jane." Presumably Bert isn't referring to Jane Banks (a good thing, too, since, given the context, the reference would be more than a little creepy).
    • There's also Bert and Uncle Albert, though if he's Bert's actual uncle it's possible he was named after him.
      • The book states that Bert's real name is Herbert.
  • Panty Shot: Mary Poppins flashes her pink bloomers while dancing on the rooftop, much to the delight of the (male) chimney sweeps. Mrs. Banks, too, hikes up her dress while singing feminist propaganda, causing a female character watching to shriek in horror.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: Mary Poppins has one in the chalk painting sequence. Along with a lacy white dress.
  • Parrot Expo-what?: Mr. Banks' initial inability to say, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."
    Jane: Mary Poppins taught us the most wonderful word!
    Michael: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
    Mr. Banks: What on earth are you talking about, supercal— super— or whatever the infernal thing is?
    Jane: It's something to say when you don't know what to say.
    Mr. Banks: Yes, well, I always know what to say.
    • And later, as he sings "The Life I Lead" again:
    Mr. Banks: (singing) These silly words, like... (stops singing) Superca... Superca... Superca...
    Mary Poppins: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
    Mr. Banks: Yes, well done. You said it.
    • He eventually comes around when he is discharged from the bank and Mr. Dawes, Sr., asks him if he has anything to say:
    Mr. Banks: (giggling hysterically) Just one word, sir.
    Mr. Dawes, Sr.: Yes?
    Mr. Banks: Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious!
    Mr. Dawes, Sr.: What?
    Mr. Banks: Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious! Mary Poppins was right, it's extraordinary! It *does* make you feel better! (giggles some more)
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: George Banks spends much of the movie confused by "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", but by the end catches on with it, particularly during his dismissal from the bank.
  • Politeness Judo: How Mary Poppins wins the horse race.
  • Politically Correct History:
    • One bit of political incorrectness survives in the film, in which Admiral Boom uses the now derogatory term "Hottentots", as in "We're being attacked by Hottentots!" But let's face it, you just used Google to figure out what that term meant.
    • On the other hand, the rough and tough chimney sweeps express a lot of sympathy for the women's suffrage cause in 1910 Britain.
  • Portal Picture: Bert's pavement drawings.
  • Positive Discrimination: All over the place. Mary Poppins is "practically perfect in every way," while Bert has no magical powers at all, and also takes care of most of the slapstick. Mrs. Banks is much more sympathetic than Mr. Banks, and more reasonable too. Jane is clearly wiser and more competent than her brother. And you'll also notice that Mary and Jane are always the ones at the head of the carousel horse race...although that has more to do with the positions of characters on the carousel when the operator let them off.
  • Pretty in Mink: Mrs. Banks wears an ermine muff to one of her suffrage rallies. The muff does double duty as Mrs. Banks uses it to discreetly carry extra "Votes for Women" sashes.
  • Pungeon Master: Uncle Albert. When in the right mood, he can not think about anything without it being a pun.
  • Random Events Plot: Quite a lot of the movie's run time is random loosely connected mini adventures that the children and Mary go on, with subtle bits of character development to move the main relationships along. Though of course, not all tropes are bad, as it doesn't affect the great quality of the movie at all.
  • Really Gets Around: Bert is a male example. Just listen to his song with the penguins! The jealous look on Mary's face during most of the song pretty much confirms it.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Mary Poppins hires herself. With, no less, the implication that Mr. Banks is the one who needs to impress her!
    • Mary Poppins uses the wind to literally blow the competition away to leave the nanny spot open for her.
  • Reverse Psychology: Mary Poppins owns this trope. She gets herself hired by interviewing her employer, gets the children to sleep by singing a lullaby about staying awake, and tricks Mr. Banks into taking the kids to work with him by acting like it's his idea.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: One of the film's most famous sequences.
  • Rummage Fail: Mary Poppins hunting for her tape-measure.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Bert's "high-wire" act in the park provokes this response.
  • Scenery Porn: Almost definitely spot-on as far as the sights of London go.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: A prim and Proper Lady; the only one not to lose her composure during the laughing scene. She also manipulates her employer with the ease of a pro. See her entry on Reverse Psychology.
  • Solo Duet: Both "in movie", when Mary Poppins sings with her reflection, and then "in production", when Julie Andrews dubbed in the robin-whistles in the same song.
  • Space Jews: The fox in the animated sequence has a "whimsical" Irish accent. And he's being hunted by Englishmen. Symbolism, people.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Mary can talk to animals.
  • Standard Snippet: During Bert's aforementioned "high-wire" act, he hums the big-top standard "Over the Waves"—as hammily and overdone as possible, of course.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Used at the beginning to indicate trouble in the Banks family, and at the end to indicate that all is well, now.
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Mary Poppins.
  • Supporting Protagonist: A case is often made that Mary Poppins is this trope and the movie is really about George Banks. In any case, it's true enough that he gets more Character Development than anyone else. This is what the title of Saving Mr. Banks refers to, as P.L. Travers explaining this to Walt Disney is a major plot point.
  • Take This Job And Shove It: Upon uttering "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", George Banks decides he should say something to his employers:
    Mr. Dawes Sr.: What are you talking about, man? There's no such word!
    Banks: Oh yes! It is a word! A perfectly good word! Actually, do you know what there's no such thing as? It turns out, with due respect, when all is said and done, that there's no such thing as YOU!
  • Trickster Mentor
  • Villain Song: "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank" can be considered this.
  • Visual Pun: When Mary replies to the Banks childrens' torn up letter, there is a line of nannies at the door when she swoops in on a gust of wind and literally blows the competition away.
  • Weirdness Censor: "Ellen, it is now eight o'clock."
  • Westminster Chimes: In the score during the rooftop scene, between orchestral reprises of "Spoonful of Sugar" and "Feed the Birds".
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Brits have been asking Dick Van Dyke this for 50 years. His consistent answer seems to be, "Funny."
  • With Due Respect: Mr. Banks says this right before finishing his tear down into Mr. Dawes Sr.

The stage adaptation provides examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Or Re-Ascended Extra — Mrs. Corry, having been demoted to a cameo in the film, regains a bigger role in the musical adaptation.
  • Babysitter from Hell: Miss Andrew, literally. There's a good reason why she's known as the "Holy Terror." After Mary Poppins returns, she puts Miss Andrew inside a large birdcage and basically sends her to hell.
  • Birdcaged: Miss Andrew, much like in the book "Mary Poppins Comes Back"
  • Cut Song: Temper Temper eventually was cut from the stage musical, due to complaints by parents and that the producers of the Dutch production of Poppins didn't like the idea of the kids being put on trial. The slightly tamer nightmare-inspired "Playing The Game" replaced the song when the US tour began and the changes have been reinstated to the Broadway production as well as future productions of the show.
  • Follow Your Heart: "Anything Can Happen"
  • Joker Jury: The toys who put the children on trial in "Temper, Temper".
  • The Musical
  • Remake Cameo: Dick Van Dyke reprised the role of Mr. Dawes Sr., who normally isn't in the show, during a special performance in Los Angeles.
  • Villain Song: The stage version not only throws in a villain (Miss Andrew, George's former nanny who was featured in the Poppins books) but also gives her a two-part song, "Brimstone and Treacle".

... in a most de-light-ful way!
Magic IslandFantasy FilmsMirror, Mirror
Magilla GorillaThe Dark Age of AnimationThe Mighty Heroes
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad WorldAcademy Award for Best Original SongCat Ballou
Lemonade JoeFilms of the 1960sMarnie
Dr. StrangeloveAcademy AwardZorba The Greek
Martin GuerreThe MusicalMatilda
Chitty Chitty Bang BangCreator/ABC FamilyThe Sound of Music
Judgment At NurembergNational Film RegistryThe Right Stuff
Shut Up, Hannibal!ImageSource/Live-Action FilmsThe Man in the Mirror Talks Back

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