It’s a not-so-secret fact that growing up, my favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz. My second favorite movie was Mary Poppins. It’s so magical … I still cry nearly every time I see it. So I am pretty stoked to be able to bring you the scoop on the DVD extras from the 50th Anniversary Edition of Mary Poppins:
The previews included a teaser for upcoming release of The Jungle Book as well as a trailer for Saving Mr. Banks that totally transfixed me. (I’ve been steering clear of previews and clips from Banks because I really want to go into it fresh … now I can’t wait!)
Becoming Mr. Sherman
This first short looks at the making of Saving Mr. Banks from the point of view of Dick Sherman and the actor who’s playing him in the upcoming film, Jason Schwartzman. According to Dick, the film is extremely accurate. In fact, he said, “It’s like looking at home movies of yourself 50 years ago.” Honestly, I found the whole thing to be a fascinating look into how the Shermans helped translate the book into the film.
I expected a Follow-the-Bouncing-Mickey-Head-style sing along, but what’s here is truly lovely. Much like the FrogeOke on The Muppet Movie re-release, the songs were animated with dynamic font art, and they’re really, really lovely to watch. There are four songs included, and I watched them all because they were fabulous.
Classic Bonus Features
The lion’s share of the extras are here, and there are a TON of them. Including The Cat That Looked at the King, a short where Julie Andrews takes two children into a chalk drawing of a moralistic tale. There are also some weird, random things, like a Dick Van Dyke makeup test … I didn’t even know Van Dyke played the old banker! But it makes a lot of sense, and the makeup is truly exquisite. He says, “I told Walt there’d be no extra charge.”
The biggie is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making Of Mary Poppins. It’s a making-of feature that’s nearly an hour long all hosted by the adorable Dick Van Dyke. There are tons upon tons of interviews with the cast and crew as well as historians and animators. It’s pretty remarkable.
Also included here was an epically long pair of featurettes called Disney on Broadway. One is a performance of Step in Time from the Broadway production, which was full of high energy fun and really made me want to see the show. The second featurette was very long (48 minutes long), and it’s called From Page to Stage, tracing the story from the film to the stage.
As a piece of film, it is extremely unusual and visually interesting, with lots of soft lighting and film-school-esque camera work; but it’s also really a wonderful story, which follows the stage show’s major players through the story at their homes all around the world. I learned a lot about Mary Poppins and about the stage show—for example, I didn’t know Julian Fellows wrote the book for Mary Poppins! I LOVE HIM! My favorite part of the “short” was a really lovely, touching scene where an LA-based Richard Sherman sings over speaker phone with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who wrote additional music and lyrics for the show, in France. I teared up.
There are also several original and re-release promo items, including a wonderfully stiff and scripted teaser with Walt Disney. The best of these include two shorts from the film’s premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I was especially hypnotized by some soundless 16mm film from the post-premiere party in Grauman’s parking lot. It’s a really fascinating look at the fashion of the day, and I was struck by how Dick Van Dyke is the only person at the party who would look right in place in 2013. He is like the Clooney of the 1960s. Also, a fascinating tidbit from this feature: Julie Andrews’ husband Tony did the costumes for Poppins!
The Movie Magic short looks at the special effects, but it doesn’t really explain much I’m still so impressed by what the film manages to do, and this just didn’t make me excited about it (not like the special features on Pete’s Dragon). What they created with Mary Poppins is such an awesome mix of technology and lovely, unflappable actors.
Fortunately, what Movie Magic lacks, two Deconstruction of a Scene featurettes provide more of what I was looking for regarding the special features. The first one I watched was for Jolly Holiday, which offers a behind-the-magic look at what it was like to create the scene—including shots of the actors in a black box interspersed with concept drawings and rough animations. It’s a really cool, interesting way to watch all the moving parts that go into making movie magic.
The second scene is Step in Time, which used a lot of the same special effects techniques as Jolly Holiday, but it just doesn’t look as impressive because the scene is really just filled out a bit by the animation—there’s not as much interaction between the animated and real environments. This one is interesting, though, because they’ve interspersed the filming and the animation with the dancers working up the choreography, which is really kind of retro-incredible.
Really, honestly? I was locked on the couch for at least three hours watching special features. Probably longer. But it absolutely flew by. It was a real joy to watch, and not just because I love the source material so much. This 50th anniversary edition? Absolutely worth a purchase!
Disclosure: I received a review copy free of charge from Disney. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my own experience.