September 15 marked the 55th anniversary of the release in France of the cult Mary Poppins. Before (re) discovering the available film on the Disney + platform, here are five anecdotes on this musical which still makes young and old dream today.
A film based on a children’s novel
If in the minds of many, Mary Poppins is inseparable from the Disney classic that bears her name, the famous nanny of children Banks is above all the heroine of a novel published in 1934 and born from the imagination of the writer. Australian Pamela L. Travers. Walt Disney’s bedside book for girls, the latter promises to adapt it one day to the screen. After many years of negotiations with the author, he managed to obtain the adaptation rights and set about the project in 1960. This complicated genesis is at the heart of the film In the Shadow of Mary, also available on Disney +. The firm with big ears however allows itself some liberties with the original work and gives life to a warm, gentle and endearing Mary Poppins, far from the cold, austere and distant nanny of the novel.
The first role of Julie Andrews in the cinema
It is no longer presented today, but actress Julie Andrews made her debut on the stage at the age of 12. In the 1950s, she found success on Broadway thanks to the musicals The Boy Friend and in particular My Fair Lady, in which she played the main role. Upon discovering her on stage in Camelot, Walt Disney is immediately charmed by her talent and offers her the role of Mary Poppins. The young woman, then aged 27, made her very first appearance on the big screen in the guise of the bewitching nanny. A performance that marked the start of her impressive film career and for which she was awarded the 1965 Oscar for Best Actress. Only six months after the release of Mary Poppins, French spectators find her on the bill of the equally cult La Mélodie du bonheur.
A blue fear of heights
The success of Mary Poppins rests in part on special effects very impressive for the time, but these technical feats were unfortunately not to the taste of all, in particular Matthew Garber, the interpreter of Michael Banks. In a famous scene from the film, Mary Poppins and the children visit Uncle Albert and drink tea by his side… from the ceiling. Only problem: the young Matthew, then 8 years old, suffered from vertigo and did not appreciate being suspended in the air repeatedly. To successfully shoot this sequence, the film crew decided to offer him ten cents for each take. A nice little bonus that he may have decided to put in the bank, unlike his character!
The mystery of the snow globe
Precious treasures well kept today, certain film props have sometimes almost disappeared in a completely surprising way. This is particularly the case of the magnificent snow globe by Mary Poppins, representing Saint Paul’s Cathedral. When David Smith, chief archivist at Disney, decides to go in search of the mythical object used during the performance of the piece Feed the little birds, he finds it by surprise in a broom closet. While the accessory had been thrown in the trash, a maintenance worker had finally picked it up, finding the snow globe too pretty to get rid of, and put it there. Unfortunately the base of the object had been damaged. Find this anecdote and many others in the program Souvenirs de tournage, available on Disney +.
An enigmatic expression
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (sometimes Supercalifragilisticexpidélilicieux in French), only one word, 34 letters, all to describe a sensation that is quite simply… indescribable! When she has just won a horse race and is assailed by a horde of journalists, Mary Poppins uses this astonishing expression which has become iconic today. But what can she mean? Invented by brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, this song title comes from their passion for complicated words after their respective sons Gregory and Jeff. Asked about the subject, Richard M. Sherman clarified the origin of each element composing this word: super- refers to “up”, -cali- to “beauty”, -fragilistic- to “delicate”, -expiali- to “atone” and -docious to “educable”. An explanation which does not completely lift the veil on this mysterious expression, but which underlines the genius of the two brothers who have succeeded in creating a real hit from an invented phrase!
To celebrate the 55th anniversary of its release in France, (re) immerse yourself now in the enchanted universe of Mary Poppins on the Disney + platform. If you are a fan of the film, have you ever noticed these mistakes?
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