Trivia / Mary Poppins

The books

  • Creator Backlash: P.L. Travers called the second chapter of the first book, "The Day Out", the worst Mary Poppins story she ever wrote. (For people who haven't read the book: Take the "Jolly Holiday" scene of the movie, remove Jane, Michael, the talking animals, and the horse race, and replace the penguin waiters with a human waiter, and you'll have an idea of how "The Day Out" goes.)
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes:
    • The 1934 version of the first book has gone out of print, meaning that fans who want to read the un-PC version of "Bad Tuesday" have to hunt down an old copy.
    • The individual editions of Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane and Mary Poppins and the House Next Door have also gone out of print. The 2010 omnibus Mary Poppins: The Complete Collectionnote  has those two stories, albeit with either most or all of their pictures removed.
  • Write Who You Know: The character of Mr. Banks is based on the author's own father, Travers Goff.

The Disney movie

  • 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.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Creator Backlash/Disowned Adaptation: P.L. Travers absolutely hated the film, due to its changing of several elements of her original stories and the inclusion of the animated sequence. So much so, that at the premiere, she approached Walt Disney before its first screening, demanding the sequence be removed. Disney refused, and later, when the film had concluded, Travers broke down crying, not because the people hated the film, but because they were giving it a standing ovation. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Disney-produced biographical film Saving Mr. Banks finesses these facts like mad.
    • In a rare 1977 interview, she actually stated that she thought the film was well made and had a lot of positive aspects to it. However, she felt it was so different from her books that she wasn't happy with the final product.
  • Crosscast Role: Many of the nannies in the large queue of applicants for the job at the start of the film were actually men in drag.
  • 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.
    • A song about Admiral Boom was written for the film. Although the song does not appear in the film, the music can be heard in the score.
    • The stage play is not without its cut songs either. "What I Can Do" (a precursor to the song "Being Mrs. Banks") and "She's Ever So Mary Poppins" were two written, but cut for various reasons.
  • Development Gag: "Stay Awake" uses a slowed-down version of Mary Poppins' rejected Leitmotif.
  • Development Hell: Walt Disney had first considered making a live-action adaptation of Mary Poppins as early as 1938, but P.L. Travers didn't think it could do justice for her books, mainly because Disney hadn't done any live-action films at the time.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • Used a couple of times with the young actors playing Jane and Michael.
    • The medicine bottle that pours different colors was a real working prop. The children were not informed of its purpose, so Karen Dotrice's shriek of delight is real.
    • The children were unaware that Mr. Dawes Sr. was played by Dick Van Dyke. According to Karen Dotrice (Jane), she didn't know till she saw the end credits.
    • Likewise, Karen Dotrice says that in the scene in which the children run away from the bank and get grabbed by a mysterious figure, they weren't told beforehand that the soot-covered figure was actually Bert, who was trying to calm them down.
  • Fake Brit: Dick Van Dyke. That accent. Ironically, he also plays Mr. Dawes, Sr, doing so brilliant a job that many viewers don't even realize it was him. Dick van Dyke's Cockney accent is a contender for second most notorious film example of all time. If you're wondering who owns the title for most notorious, see here. Dick defended himself on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! by explaining that his accent coach was J. Pat O'Malley, who didn't speak Cockney any better than he did. Though J. Pat O'Malley was English, he was from Burnley, Oop North and nowhere near London. To hear his take on Cockney listen to Jasper in the original 101 Dalmatians, for whom he provided the voice, as well as the voice of the Colonel.
  • Fake Irish: American Dal McKennon voices an animated Oirish fox.
  • Production Posse: There are several Disney regulars in this film.
    • Uncle Albert is played by Ed Wynn, who appeared in numerous Disney films, most notably being the voice of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.
    • In addition, the film's vocal coach, J. Pat O'Malley, also appeared in numerous Disney films; he was also in Alice in Wonderland, voicing Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and he was also Colonel Hathi in The Jungle Book.
    • Hermione Baddeley, who played Ellen, the Banks' parlormaid, also was the voice of Madame Adelaide Bonfamille in The Aristocats.
    • In addition, Thurl Ravenscroft, who voiced the hog in the barnyard scene in the animation sequence, also appeared in The Aristocats as the Russian cat.
    • Director Robert Stevenson spent much of his career directing live-action Disney films.
    • In addition, music editor Evelyn Kennedy also worked on various Disney films, live-action and animated alike.
    • Jane, played by Karen Dotrice, previously appeared in The Three Lives Of Thomasina and later appeared with co-star Matthew Garber (Michael) in The Gnome Mobile.
    • Most of Disney's Nine Old Men worked on the animation in the chalk drawing scene.
    • This was David Tomlinson's first Disney film, but he would go on to appear in The Love Bug and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, both of which were directed by the aforementioned Stevenson.
    • Bedknobs and Broomsticks also featured Reginald Owen, who played Admiral Boom, and Arthur Malet, who played Mr. Dawes, Jr.
    • This was also Irwin Kostal's first assignment for Disney as conductor and music arranger, but he later performed similar duties on Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Pete's Dragon, and Mickey's Christmas Carol, while his assistant, James MacDonald, was the featured percussionist for Fantasia as well as Walt Disney's replacement as the voice of Mickey Mouse and the original voice of Humphrey The Bear.
    • The Sherman Brothers wrote music for several Disney films, mostly in the '60s and '70s.
  • The Red Stapler: Inverted in that modern nannies now have an impossibly high standard to live up to with employing families in the Western world.
  • Stillborn Franchise: Although the film was a big success, we never got any sequels because P.L. Travers refused to allow them.
  • Star-Making Role: For Julie Andrews. The Sound of Music came out shortly after this, solidifying it (and giving Andrews a lot of Type Casting she tried to shake off).
  • Throw It In:
    • Mr. Dawes Sr.'s trouble walking down the stairs was something Dick Van Dyke did between takes.
    • Bert's Cockney accent is this, basically. Van Dyke tried doing a serious Cockney accent but found he could only manage a bad one.
    • Mary's "Cheeky!" comment when her reflection starts showing off was ad libbed by Julie Andrews.
  • Trope Codifier: As far as Magical Nanny goes. If you mention a magical nanny, Mary Poppins is who they'll think of.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Disney offered to do an animated adaptation of Mary Poppins, but Travers felt no one would take the movie seriously if it was animated.
    • After the film's success, Disney approached Travers for rights to film the other books, but given her absolute hatred of the movie, she unsurprisingly refused.
    • Walt was negotiating to have the rights to film Bedknobs and Broomsticks in case negotiations for the rights to Mary Poppins fell through.
    • The book had a chapter in which Mary Poppins and the children use a magic compass to visit different countries. The Sherman Brothers wrote a wide assortment of songs to use for their journey, but the chapter ultimately went unadapted.
    • Bette Davis and Angela Lansbury were considered for Mary Poppins.
    • P.L. Travers suggested dropping a few hints that Mr. Banks used to have Mary Poppins as his nanny.
    • Mrs Banks has no name in the books. The planned name for her was Cynthia but PL Travers wanted a more English sounding name - and they came up with Winifred. The names that Bert lists during the "Jolly Holiday" sequence are among those that were considered for her.
    • Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire and even Cary Grant were considered for Bert.
    • Original choices for George Banks included Richard Harris, Terry-Thomas, George Sanders, James Mason and Donald Sutherland.
    • Uncle Albert was originally written as having a Viennese accent. Ed Wynn, however, didn't attempt the accent—or even an English accent, for that matter. He was just himself, ad-libbing many of the lines he says while laughing on the ceiling in the "I Love to Laugh" scene.
  • Some general trivia:
    • Because back then everybody smoked, Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks) says she has the surreal image in her head of Mary Poppins smoking (Julie Andrews, in costume backstage).
    • Matthew Garber (Michael Banks) was afraid of heights, so they gave him a dime (10 cents in 1964 is equal to about 75 cents in 2015) each time he went up in a harness for the tea party on the ceiling.
    • Mary Poppins is the very first Disney-branded film to be released on DVD, in 1998 as the sole DVD in the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection. This DVD uses the version of the Tinker Bell Masterpiece Collection logo that has the 1992 distorted Walt Disney Classics jingle on it, and has the industry-wide DVD Video logo on the case and label. The physical Disney DVD logo was created the next year with the Limited Issues, and the animated logo with Tinker Bell was created in late 2001.

The stage musical

  • Cut Song: "Temper Temper" eventually was cut from the stage musical, due to complaints by parents and that the producers of the show's Dutch production 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.

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