No one needs me to pitch you on “Mary Poppins” the film. After a half-century, Walt Disney’s box office busting Oscar winner is universally regarded as a cinematic masterpiece, and one of the finest films ever made. It is also one of the most winning and charming children’s films ever made, and one the greatest musicals ever made. Let me repeat: Ever.
What makes this 50th anniversary Bluray edition so special is the high-definition transfer. The picture is absolutely spectacular, as is the 7.1 DTS sound. And after the end credits fade, but before the magic wears off, you can leap into a host of extras:
New to this release are two short and relatively minor extras. “Becoming Mr. Sherman” (14 minutes) is a promotional tie-in for Disney’s upcoming Saving Mr. Banks, in which actor Jason Schwartzman and Poppins co-songwriter Richard Sherman discuss the original classic and Mr. Banks’ relation to it. “Mary-Oke” lets viewers sing along with four Poppins favorites including “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Step in Time” and “Chim-Chim-Cheree”.
Everything else comes from the 45th Anniversary Edition DVD, which itself cherry-picked a few goodies from earlier releases. These recycled supplements include a terrific Audio Commentary featuring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks) and the Sherman Bros., as well as a 51-minute Retrospective Documentary, several shorter Featutettes, a Publicity Gallery, vintage Premiere Footage, a look at the film’s Broadway Adaptation, a handful of Retrospective Music Featurettes, the like-minded 2004 short “The Cat That Looked at a King (starring Julie Andrews) and more.
“Mary Poppins” was Julie Andrews’ film debut and her pitch-perfect performance as a magical nanny won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. “Chim Chim Cher-ee” also won the Oscar for Best Song, but at least a half-dozen of other songs were just as worthy, including “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “I Love to Laugh.”
My personal favorite is “Feed the Birds,” which does little to move the story but still breaks your heart and ranks as the best moment in a perfect film.
Will today’s kids who have had their attention spans raped by the Internet, MTV, and video games be able to enjoy a fifty-year old musical? Who cares? I’m 47 and was captivated from beginning to end.
Movies just don’t get much better than “Mary Poppins” and the 50th Anniversary Bluray is an opportunity to own it forever, share it with your kids, and never have to worry about purchasing another copy; because it will never get better than this.
Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) (1964) is available at Amazon.com.