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Film / Mary Poppins

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♫ "Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee
A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be
Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-oo
Good luck will rub off when I shakes 'ands with you
Or blow me a kiss
And that's lucky too" ♫

"Wind's in the east
Mist comin' in...
Like something is brewin'
About to begin...
Can't put my finger
On what lies in store...
But I feel what's to happen
All happened before"

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, in 1910. When most people hear the name, they think of the 1964 Walt Disney Pictures movie, adapted from the book series of the same name by P.L. Travers. The film stars Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke as Bert, David Tomlinson as George Banks and Glynis Johns as Winifred Banks.

It has been adapted into a musical theater adaptation; this version replaces some of the less stageable aspects of the original film with elements of the original books.

The film was nominated for 13 Oscars, of which it won five.note  Today, it is 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.note 

A sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was released in December 2018.

Just a spoonful of tropes'll help the article go down, the article go dow-own, the article go down:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Katie Nanna, who storms out after losing Michael and Jane, while they're still missing. As such, nobody misses her when she leaves.
  • Arc Words: They don't appear multiple times, but as the wind grows stormy heralding the Banks' household's troubles, Bert is distracted from his mugging from the crowd. His next sung words imply Mary Poppins only blows into town when a family needs her.
    Bert: Wind's in the east, mist comin' in
    Like somethin' is brewin', about to begin
    Can't put me finger on what lies in store
    But I feel what's to happen all happened before
    • Doubles as the musical's prologue, with an additional stanza describing the family situation:
    Bert: A father, a mother, a daughter, a son
    The threads of their lives are all ravelin' undone
    Something is needed to twist them as tight
    As a string you might use when you're flying a kite
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Mary Poppins in the original books was much sterner and stricter. The adaptations make her more of a Sugar-and-Ice Personality - to the degree that the original author thought she was too nice.
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  • 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 jack-of-all-trades handyman whose resumé includes chimney sweeper, chalk painter, etc. seems to be one of the most well-off people in both the film and musical. The upper class seem to respect him, he is an associate of Mary, and is implied to have some magic of his own.
  • Ash Face: Bert, naturally as a chimney sweep, is already covered in soot as is. Mary Poppins and the children get covered in soot when they're sucked up the chimney. Turned Up to Eleven by Mary Poppins, who takes out a makeup compact, and actually applies more ash to her already ash-covered face.
  • Bag of Holding: Mary takes full-sized hat rack, a neck-long mirror, a potted plant, and a hand mirror out of her carpet bag (one after the other).
  • Beastly Bloodsports: Mary and her friends in the chalk drawing outing wander into a fox hunt and Bert decides to give the fox a hand to help him escape.
  • 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.
  • Big Bad: In the film, Mr. Dawes Sr. is the closest thing to this. He's the head of the bank and the surmounting pressure he puts on Mr. Banks pertaining to his job is the primary cause of a lot of the strife that follows. Miss Andrew is this in the stage musical.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Mr. Banks starts to bond with his children, and the Banks are now a happier family. But with winds changing, Mary Poppins has to leave, which she does so without so much a goodbye. However, Bert wishes her a fond farewell and she spares him a smile.
    • The musical takes it further. Bert and Mary Poppins convene at the end of Act 2 where Bert gives her a bouquet right out of a painting. Both sensing this might be their last meeting together, both say goodbye and Mary gives Bert a peck on the cheek. Just before she leaves, she sings about how it feels to have to move on to the next family. She leaves her locket, now with the chain broken, and departs.
      Mary Poppins: Though in your heart, you'd like to stay
      To help things on their way
      You've always known
      They must do it alone.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
  • 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. The film implies that Mary will come back and reunite with Bert (though never romantically) time and time and time again. In contrast, the stage show states that Mary is most likely leaving for good, as the family doesn't need her anymore, and it implies that Mary and Bert might be meeting for the last time late in Act 2.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: Mr. Banks himself is simply Married to the Job, but his fellow bankers are greedy bastards intent on swindling every penny that they can from their customers.
  • Character Development: Mary Poppins's 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's transformation from aloof and distant patriarch to concerned and loving family man.
  • The Comically Serious: Mr. Banks. Especially during the latter half of "Step in Time", once the sweeps enter the house.
  • Composite Character: Bert's character in the film and stage show is a combination of his portrayal as the Matchman and the Sweep character from the book series.
  • Continuity Cameo:
    • The people Bert sings to in the opening of the movie are all supporting characters from the book series.
  • Dark Reprise: "A Man has Dreams" is this to "The Life I Lead", after Mr. Banks is about to be fired.
    • "A Man has Dreams" is held over in the stage production, having a more hopeful variant in the bank and the original version after Step in Time per the film. Mary Poppins gets a one of "A Spoonful of Sugar" before she goes.
    Mary Poppins: With every job, when it's complete / There is a sense of bittersweet / That moment when you know / The task is done
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mary Poppins has her moments.
    [after Mary talks to Andrew, a dog]
    Michael: I don't think he said anything.
    Mary Poppins: You know best, as usual.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The real main character of both the film and stage musical is Mr. Banks.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Mr. Banks was, at the beginning of the film, a man Married to the Job, seeking a promotion and emotionally distant from his children. By the end of the film, he has not only reconnected with his children and realized the true worth of family, but he's also given a position as partner in the bank.
    • In the show, not only is he emotionally distant with the children, but Winifred as well. Per the film, he comes around at the end and reconnects with his family.
  • The Edwardian Era: The setting of the film and the play.
    Mr. Banks: It's great to be an Englishman / In 1910 / King Edward's on the throne / It's the Age of Men!
  • The Fair Folk: Mary Poppins is pretty much what you'd get if you tried to be fairly accurate to the original legends, while still staying within the confines of the G rating (that is, a Disneyfied Fair Folk, rather than a Disneyfied fairy). She plays magical pranks (blowing away the other nannies, surprising the children with a Bag of Holding, "accidentally" trapping Michael in the closet during the nursery-tidying, startling them with the same bottle pouring out differently-colored liquid, etc), is extremely vain, denies doing anything even when she's clearly responsible (the children getting pulled up the chimney), and leaves when the kids stop being startled by her magic (note how they pay no attention to her putting her things back in her carpet bag; yes, they're distracted by being upset that she's leaving, but they also are no longer impressed by her tricks).
  • 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.
    • Subverted in the play, where Winifred struggles with her role simply being Mrs. Banks. By the end, they're once again a happy couple.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Katie Nanna is the last kind of person you want to entrust with your children. She mentions that she has lost the children a grand total of four times during her service with the Banks family and refuses to accept any of the blame, instead insisting that the children are beasts and that it is all on them for getting themselves lost. She even packs up and leaves the Banks residence while they are still missing! On top of that, she has the nerve to demand her pay before storming out bags and everything. The only reason Ellen tries to dissuade her is to avoid the wrath of Mr. Banks. Mrs. Brill however is not the least bit upset to see her out. Downplayed in the musical, where Katie Nanna is seen for all but two minutes, nearly dragging the kids home before they ditch her. She then quits per the film.
    • Miss Andrew is even worse than Katie Nanna in this regard in the musical. Not only does she say the kids are rude note , she also punishes children with Brimstone and Treacle (a parallel to Mary Poppins' "Spoonful of Sugar," but much more unpleasant) to get them in line. What makes it even worse is that she was George's nanny when he was young, with the implication that he was traumatized by his upbringing. She's brought back as a surprise by Winifred to please her husband, after Mary Poppins departs. The others, expecting Poppins' return, are disappointed in their new visitor. Once Mary Poppins does come back, she takes on Miss Andrew, giving her a taste of her own medicine and sends her back to ''whence she came''.
  • 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.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Stay Awake" in the film. It's a lullaby. A very effective one.
    • Bert's own variation on the upbeat "Spoonful of Sugar" during "A Man Has Dreams", sung as a lyrical Aesop to Mr. Banks.
  • Magical Guardian: Mary Poppins.
  • Magical Nanny: The original, endlessly referenced and parodied.
  • 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 
  • Nice Guy: Bert.
  • No Antagonist: The movie has no villain, unless you count Dawes Sr. who is, at worst, a grumpy old banker who fired George for the chaos Michael unintentionally caused in the bank. George himself is a bit neglectful and severe as a father, but not villainous. Averted in the stage show, which features Miss Andrew (George's childhood nanny, who appeared in the original books).
  • Order Versus Chaos: Mr. Banks (order) vs. Mary Poppins (chaos). The trope is played with in that Mary behaves like a very order-oriented person even as she fills people's lives with delightful chaos.
  • Paper Destruction of Anger: Mr Banks drafts an advertisement for a nanny to put in the newspaper. His kids also draft an advertisement for a nanny. When Mr Banks finds out that the kids' ideas of what traits the nanny should have are completely opposite to the traits he thinks the nanny should have, he tears up the kids' draft in disdain.
  • 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 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.
  • Schedule Fanatic: George Banks towards the beginning of both the film and the musical. His song in the film "The Life I Lead", which is also his Leitmotif, is all about how happy he is being one.
    George: I run my home precisely on schedule. At 6:01, I march through my door. My slippers, sherry, and pipe are due at 6:02, consistent is the life I lead!
  • Setting Update: Inverted, since the books took place in The '30s. The adaptations take place in Edwardian London instead.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Starting when Mr. Banks is called into the bank. 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, per the novels. In the musical, Bert is also able to talk to Ms. Lark's dog Willoughby. 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.

Tropes specific to the film include:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: George looks incredibly disapproving when the children's advertisement lists "never smell of barley water" — but Winifred is trying to restrain herself.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Three times in the film have the children disappeared without adult supervision or knowledge of their location. The first scene with the Banks family begins with Katie Nanna quitting after losing the children. Mrs. Banks is very worried, but Mr. Banks doesn't seem any concerned. The second time is more serious. When Mr. Dawes Sr. tries to steal Michael's tuppence, the frightened boy and his sister run away from the bank their father took them to (unwittingly starting the bank run that their father is fired for), and wind up lost in the East End slums, in danger of being attacked by stray dogs, unsavory hags, and soot-covered men. Fortunately, the scariness is instantly dispelled when the dark man is revealed to be their trusted friend, Bert, who takes them home. The third time is just Played for Laughs when the children are sucked up the chimney. At least Mary Poppins saw them go up.
    • Mr. Banks loses his job. This involves a long, solitary walk through London, ending in a dark boardroom with bloodred upholstery, as he loses his life's work, the respect of his superiors, and faces the prospect of being left penniless with his wife and two young children.
  • Alcohol Hic: Mary Poppins briefly has hiccups when she drinks a spoonful of rum punch flavored medicine .
  • 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?"
  • 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.
    But I feel what's to happen / All happened before.''
  • Batman Gambit: Mary (probably) pulls this on Mr. Banks. First, she puts the idea in his head that he should take his children on an outing to the bank. Then she tells the children all about the bird woman, whose hang out is conveniently on the way to the bank, and how kind it would be to give her their money. What ensues could only have been Mary's plan.
  • Benevolent Boss: Mr. Banks certainly considers himself one.
    Mr. Banks: I'm the lord of my castle, the sovereign, the liege.
    I treat my subjects, servants, children, wife
    With a firm but gentle hand. Noblesse oblige.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: When the family thinks Mr. Banks has disappeared, Ellen blabs that the policemen should be dragging the Thames, as there is nice known spot where people go drown themselves — until Mrs. Brill elbows her, as this is not helping one bit.
  • Berserk Button: Do not — repeat, do not — take Michael's tuppence.
  • Brick Joke: The "man with a wooden leg named Smith" joke from the Uncle Albert scene turns up again towards the end of the movie.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The joke about a man with a wooden leg named Smith that Bert tells Uncle Albert proves crucial, when Mr. Banks appears before the bank staff including Mr. Dawes, Sr., who is played by Dick Van Dyke, who also plays Bert the Chimney Sweep.
  • Chimney Entry: The many chimney sweeps in the rooftop scene seem to have no trouble leaping into and popping out of London's chimneys, culminating in a soot-tracking parade through the Banks's living room.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • 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: Too much laughter is actually treated as some kind of sickness, since it causes people to float up in the air and it will affect anyone else who starts laughing to much as well; Uncle Albert's laughter causes Bert and the children to laugh as well and start floating with him. It also happens to Mr. Dawes Sr. when he finally gets the "wooden leg named Smith" joke, though his laughter doesn't spread to the other bankers.
  • 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.
  • Dark Reprise: "A Man has Dreams" is this to "The Life I Lead", after Mr. Banks is fired.
  • Defrosting the Ice Queen: Mr. Dawes Sr. asks Mr. Banks if he has any last words before he's dismissed; Mr. Banks gives Dawes sr. his tuppence, telling him about a man with a wooden leg named Smith, and gaily exits, singing "A Spoonful of Sugar". Moments later, the punchline finally sinks in, and Dawes Sr. has such a hearty moment of laughter, Dawes Jr. reports that his father died laughing, and there's a job opening for Mr. Banks, who has a more positive outlook, and starts to spend more quality time with Jane and Michael.
  • Delayed Reaction: When Mr. Banks comes home at the start of the movie, he is in such a good mood that he doesn't quite notice that Katie Nanna is leaving for good. Even as he is helping her with her luggage. A few minutes after she's gone, he finds out that she lost the children (again), and is about to fire her... and then realizes that he can't.
    • After Mr. Banks tells Dawes Sr. the joke about a man with a wooden leg named Smith, the elder Dawes has a look on confusion on his face, and a moment later, as he's repeating the joke to himself, he finally understands it and laughs, floating up into the air with wheezy chuckles of laughter.
  • Digital Destruction / George Lucas Altered Version: 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 some of the music being reorchestrated. (Obvious examples include the wind when Mary Poppins is sitting on a cloud, Admiral Boom's cannon firing, 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 prior to 2012. Fortunately, Disney released a new DVD in 2009 with the new sound effects gone. And the 2004 DVD had also included the original soundtrack as an audio option.
  • Die Laughing: Mr. Dawes, Sr. laughs heartily and he dies laughing as he finally gets a joke.
  • 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 tambourine 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 tambourine 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.
  • Exact Words: The children implore Mary Poppins to stay by asking if she doesn't love them. Her answer is cleverly dodgy. "What would happen to me if I loved all the children I said goodbye to?" She sends them down to their father, who takes them kite-flying so she can leave without ever needing to say goodbye.
  • 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!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Dawes Jr. is tearing up George's belongings one of the bankers begs him not to destroy the umbrella before being shushed by the others.
  • Facepalm: George Banks, fed up with everyone being so cheerful and singing one morning, to the point that he demanded Ellen close the window due to the songbirds outside, gives one when Jane and Michael come marching in afterwards, loudly singing "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"!
  • The Film of the Book: Travers and Walt Disney's battles were lengthy.
  • 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," "Over the rooftops", "Mary Poppins", "Votes for women," "It's the master", "What's all this?" and (hilariously) "Aahhh!"
  • Forgot to Mind Their Head: George Banks is looking in the fireplace for the children's notice for a nanny that he threw there (which Mary has just produced). His wife enters and calls his name, causing him to bang his head on the fireplace.
  • Foreshadowing: During his One-Man Band gig at the beginning, Bert plays the melody of the "Penguin Dance" from the Roger Rabbit Effect sequence as well as that of "Step in Time", the big chimney sweeps dance number towards the end of the film.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer:
    • Bert addresses the audience directly at the start of the film.
    • He does it again immediately as part of a busking routine before they leap into the chalk drawing.
      Bert: 'Ello, Art Lovers!
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Mrs Brill attempts to fight off the chimney sweeps with one.
  • Full-Name Basis: It's rare for anyone to use less than Mary Poppins's full name.
  • 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. As she is singing this, Bert gets noticeably flustered.
  • 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.
    Bert: They make cages in all shapes and sizes, you know. Bank-shaped, some of 'em.
  • 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).
  • Great Way to Go: What the characters say about the way Mr. Dawes, Sr. dies laughing as he finally gets a joke.
  • Hate Sink: Katie Nana is the last kind of person you want to entrust with your children. She mentions that she has lost the children a grand total of four times during her service with the Banks family and refuses to accept any of the blame, instead insisting that the children are beasts and that it is all on them for getting themselves lost. She even packs up and leaves the Banks residence while they are still missing! On top of that, she has the nerve to demand her pay before storming out bags and everything. The only reason Ellen tries to dissuade her is to avoid the wrath of Mr. Banks. Mrs. Brill however is not the least bit upset to see her out.
  • Henpecked Husband: In the cartoon band sequence, as comedy.
  • Homeless Pigeon Person: Mary sings a song to Jane and Michael about the Bird Woman (providing both the page quote and the image for the trope), a poor old women who sells bread crumbs to feed the pigeons with on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral. Later on in the movie, Mr Banks prohibit them from buying bird-feed from her with the tuppence he was going to have them invest at the bank. Close to the end, when Mr Banks soberly walks through London to the bank to be fired, he comes across the empty steps of the cathedral, with the heavy implication that she died, and that his children will never show kindness to her thanks to his callousness.
  • The Hyena: Uncle Albert
  • Hypocritical Singing: Mary sings a lullaby to the kids entitled "Stay Awake" when the children stubbornly refuse to sleep because they were excited and wanted to relive their day in the chalk drawing.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: It's easy to remember most of the verses in "Fidelity Fidiciary Bank" except when it states the name of the bank, which is where people start to mumble the words — you can't blame kids for not picking up the grown-up joke of a list of names for a bank. The verse is:
    ... invested in the / to be specific, / In the Dawes, Tomes / Mousely, Grubbs / Fidelity Fiduciary Bank!
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Hilariously parodied when Mr. Banks is fired from the bank. Mr. Dawes, Sr. has his son destroy Mr. Banks' carnation, invert his umbrella, and punch a hole in his top hat in front of the board of directors. In other words, he was cashiered.
  • Jaw Drop: When Michael sees Mary Poppins slide up the banister.
    Mary Poppins: Close your mouth please, Michael. We are not a codfish."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mr. Banks.
  • Job Song: Bert sings two songs about two of his several jobs. One unnamed song is about his chalk drawings and one, called "Chim Chim Cheree", is about his job as a chimney sweep and chimney sweeps in general. They are, in truth, two versions of the same song, with different lyrics. On the movie-soundtrack album, the "unnamed" version of Bert's theme song is given the title "Pavement Artist".
  • Letterbox: In 2004, this became one of the lucky few Disney movies to receive a widescreen VHS. The 1993 and 1997 laserdiscs and 1998 and 2000 DVDs also presented it in this format, albeit with different prints (and in the case of the '97 laserdisc and first two DVDs, a different aspect ratio).
  • Leitmotif: Each of the major adult characters is followed around by an instrumental version of their main song, "A Spoonful of Sugar" for Mary Poppins, "Chim Chim Cher-ee" for Bert, "The Life I Lead" for Mr. Banks, and "Sister Suffragette" for Mrs. Banks. Additionally, "Feed the Birds" seems to serve as a theme for emotional moments throughout the film.
  • Lighter and Softer: Mary Poppins is considerably a bit more pleasant and firm in the film version, as compared with the sterner and stricter Mary Poppins from the books.
  • 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-amortizing 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.
  • Magic Skirt: Jane's skirt stays put as she flips in the air at Uncle Albert's house.
  • 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 interact 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.
    • Katie Nanna refuses to accept any responsibility for the kids going missing multiple times during her tenure. Anyone who's spent any length of time with kids knows they will wander off and it's on you to keep track of them.
  • 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."
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently those sweeps have been here before...
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Philadelphia-born 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:
    • Mrs. Banks hikes up her dress while singing feminist propaganda, causing Ellen, the Banks household's parlormaid, to shriek in horror.
    • Mary Poppins flashes her pink bloomers while dancing on the rooftop, much to the delight of the (male) chimney sweeps.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: Mary Poppins has one in the chalk painting sequence. Along with a lacy white dress.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Period Piece: Film in The '60s, and set in The Edwardian Era.
  • Politeness Judo: How Mary Poppins wins the horse race.
  • Politically Correct History: The rough and tough chimney sweeps appear to express a lot of sympathy for the women's suffrage cause in 1910 Britain during the "Step in Time" song. On the other hand, they approvingly start singing absolutely anything anybody prompts them with during that song, so the jury's out as to whether this counts.
  • Polka-Dot Disease: Discussed. When Mary refers to her uncle Albert's levitation upon laughing as a contagious illness, Jane wonders if spots are a symptom. Mary, however, doesn't think so.
    Mary: What he has is quite contagious.
    Jane: Shall we get spots?
    Mary: Oh, highly unlikely.
  • Portal Picture: Bert's pavement drawings.
  • 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Even when Mr. Banks tells Dawes, Sr. off, the elder Dawes still manages to laugh at Banks's joke before he dies laughing and Dawes Jr. tells Banks that his father had never been happier, with the younger Dawes offering Banks a promotion after his father's passing.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mr. Banks gives one to Mr. Dawes, Sr. one of these after he has been dressed down by the board of directors:
    Mr. Dawes, Sr.: Well, do you have anything to say, sir?
    Mr. Banks: Well, sir, they do say that when there's nothing to say, all you can say...
    Mr. Dawes, Sr.: Confound it, Banks! I said, do you have anything to say?
    Mr. Banks: [starts giggling] Just one word, sir...
    Mr. Dawes, Sr.: Yes?
    Mr. Banks: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
    Mr. Dawes, Sr.: What?
    Mr. Banks: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Mary Poppins was right, it's extraordinary; it does make you feel better! Hee hee hee hee!
    Mr. Dawes, Sr.: What are you talking about, man? There's no such word!
    Mr. 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 all due respect, when all is said and done, that there's no such thing as you!
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Mary Poppins uses the wind to literally blow the competition away to leave the nanny spot open for her.
    • Mary Poppins hires herself. With, no less, the implication that Mr. Banks is the one who needs to impress 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.
    • It can be argued that Bert is even better at it, as his feeble attempts to enter his street painting with the children cause Mary to give him a frustrated sigh and simplify matters by doing it correctly, even though she had "no intention of making a spectacle of herself" in that manner. Bert out-reverse-psychologied Mary Poppins.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Watch the movie again after having seen Saving Mr. Banks and try not to cry at all the scenes involving Mr. Banks's Character Development, the ending, and the scenes which have more resonance now that the reason and meaning behind them is made clear. Just try. Heck, even the innocuous not-quite-Villain Song "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank" becomes outright disturbing when you remember Colin Farrell (maybe?) trying to sing it while drunk.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: One of the film's most famous sequences.
  • Rummage Fail: Mary Poppins hunting for her tape-measure.
  • Running Gag: Admiral Boom firing his cannon like clockwork twice a day.
  • Sad Clown: Bert briefly becomes this when he tries to cheer up Uncle Albert and moves him to tears after Mary Poppins and the Banks children have to go home:
    Bert: Uncle Albert, I got a jolly joke I saved for just such an occasion. Would you like to hear it?
    Uncle Albert: [with tears in his eyes] I'd be so grateful.
    Bert: Well it's about me granddad, see, and one night he has a nightmare. He was so scared, he chewed his pillow to bits. Bits. In the morning, I says, "How you feel, Granddad?" He says, "Oh, not bad. A little down in the mouth." [Uncle Albert cries harder]
    Bert: I always say there's nothing like a good joke.
    Uncle Albert: [crying] No, and that was nothing like a good joke.
  • Sanity Slippage: Dawes Sr. and Junior believe that George has gone mad when he tells the elder Dawes the joke about a wooden leg named Smith, and sings "A Spoonful of Sugar" off-key as he leaves.
  • 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. Especially the St. Paul's Cathedral in "Feed the Birds" sequence.
  • Significant Anagram: During the end credits, "Nackvid Keyd" is credited as the actor that played Mr. Dawes, Sr. The letters then physically move to unscramble the actor's real name: Dick Van Dyke. That's right, Bert was also Mr. Dawes, Sr.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: A prim and proper young woman; 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.
  • 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.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: The Banks adults at the beginning of the film — they're so British that even Admiral Boom's daily cannon firings are only a cause of very mild alarm for the servants. (Mary's arrival, of course, inserts so much chaos into the household that even Mr. Banks starts getting visibly upset.)
  • Suffrage and Political Liberation: Women's fight to win the right to vote is peripherally present. Mrs Banks is involved in suffragettes' demonstration and is nearly arrested.
  • The Suffragette: Winifred Banks, the children's mother, is part of the "Sister Suffragette" group in the film's setting of 1910. She even gets a musical number about it. The film portrays her as a cranky suffragette who is too busy to take care of her family and her friends are just as aloof.
  • 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 The Third Option: In a roundabout way; Mr. Dawes tries to convince Michael to deposit his tuppence in the bank, while Mary Poppins encourages him to give it to the bird woman at St. Paul's Cathedral. By the end of the movie, his father provides a much better use for a tuppence:
    Mr. Banks: With tuppence for paper and strings,
    You can have your own set of wings...
  • 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: Mary Poppins.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Mary and Bert seem to have been a couple sometime in the past, which rises to the surface during their outing in the country. ("You haven't changed a bit!")
  • Villain Song: "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank" can be considered this.
  • Visual Pun: When Mary replies to the Banks children's 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". Also at the end of the "Pavement Artist" song (but this is only audible on the original movie-soundtrack album).
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Brits have been asking Dick Van Dyke this for 50 years. His consistent answer seems to be, "Funny." Ironically, he is able to do a spot-on upper-class English accent when playing Mr. Dawes Sr.
  • With All Due Respect: Parodied, when Mr. Banks says this with giddy giggles as he tells Mr. Dawes Sr. off, saying that after all is said and done, there's no such thing as him.


Video Example(s):


The Bird Woman (Mary Poppins)

"Come feed the little birds, show them you care

And you'll be glad if you do

Their young ones are hungry, their nests are so bare

All it takes is tuppence from you"

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / HomelessPigeonPerson

Media sources:

Main / HomelessPigeonPerson