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File:MaryPoppinsPoster 7246.jpg

 "Practically perfect in every way."

Describe Mary Poppins? She's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, 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, circa 1910. The ensuing adventures were originally a series of children's books by P. L. Travers, and there's also a musical stage adaptation, but when most people hear the name they think of the 1964 film starring Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dyke as Bert. Which is not surprising, as it is a very good movie; unless you are P. L. Travers, it is in serious competition for claiming the title of finest live-action feature that Walt Disney ever produced. Timeless songs, a perfect cast (yes, even Bert with his infamous accent), special effects that still hold up 40+ years later, and Dyke dances with penguins. Show it to your kids. Watch it yourself. Try not to sniffle too much at the climax.

It has recently been adapted to a splendid musical theater adaptation now touring the United States; this version replaces some of the less stageable aspects of the original film (as in the penguins and Uncle Albert's floating) with elements of the original book by Travers, in an example of both Adaptation Expansion and Adaptation Distillation. Catch it if you can!


A Spoonful Of Tropes'll Help the Article Go Down:

  • Acting for Two: Dick Van Dyke played Bert and Mr. Dawes, Sr.
    • In addition to playing Mr. Banks, David Tomlinson performed the voice for Mary Poppin's umbrella. He also voiced some of the characters in the chalk drawing scene.
  • Animated Actors
  • 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.
  • Ash Face: Mary, Bert and the Banks kids are sucked up the chimney and onto the roof, covered in soot. Later, Michael shouts into a chimney and gets even more soot blown into his face.
  • Bag of Holding: Mary Poppin's carpetbag.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Mr. Dawes Sr. and George Banks becomes the film's main antagonists.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: George Banks is at first the leader of the Banks family, but he is revealed to be the director of the Bank and helping Mr. Dawes steal all of the tuppances.
  • British Stuffiness: Mr. Banks offers perhaps the archetypal example.
  • But Now I Must Go
  • Character Development: Mary Poppins' 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' transformation from aloof and distant patriarch to concerned and loving family man.
  • Catch Phrase: Spit Spot!
  • Character Title
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mrs. Banks
    • Mr. Banks too at times, when not dealing with his job. And let's not forget Admiral Boom, the insane old navy man who made a ship out of his house.
  • The Comically Serious: Mr Banks in the movie. Especially during the chimney sweep scene.
  • Composite Character: The film version of Bert.
  • Continuity Cameo: The people Bert sings to in the opening of the movie are all supporting characters from the book series. Mrs. Corry, the woman with the daughters taller than her, has a bigger role in the musical adaptation.
  • Crazy Prepared: The carpetbag again.
    • Mary Poppins also has a makeup compact containing soot. Y'know, just in case she gets sucked up a chimney, has soot on her face, and wants to add a little more.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mary Poppins has her moments.
  • Dish Dash
  • The Edwardian Era : The setting of the film.
  • Eleven O Clock Number: Step In Time in both the film and the stage musical. The stage musical is especially impressive in that Bert climbs up the wall and tap dances across the ceiling.
  • 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.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Again, perhaps the arch-typical example.
  • 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 exospeak 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!

  • Expy: Mary gets one in Nanny McPhee, only she's a bit snarkier.
    • Can anyone say Sherry Bobbins?(The Simpsons)
    • Hogfather turns Susan Sto Helit into one, though she swears if she ever catches herself dancing on rooftops with chimney sweeps she will beat herself to death with her own umbrella.
  • 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's him.
    • Hell, not even the child actors in the movie knew it was him until they saw the credits of the finished film.
  • Fake Irish: American Dal McKennon voices an animated Oirish fox.
  • Full-Name Basis: It's rare for anyone to use less than Mary Poppins' full name.
  • The Film of the Book: Travers and Walt Disney's battles were lengthy.
  • 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.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Mr. Dawes, Sr. dies as he finally gets a joke.
  • Great Way to Go: What the characters say about the above Go Out with a Smile.
  • Growing Up Sucks: More a theme in the original books.
  • 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.
  • Heel Face Return: Mr. Dawes Sr.'s children do one at the final scene of the movie.
  • Heel Face Turn: George Banks and all of the Dawes children do one at the end of the movie.
  • Heel Realization: George Banks tells Mr. Dawes Sr. the wooden leg joke at the climax of the movie.
  • Henpecked Husband: In the cartoon band sequence, as comedy.
  • High Turnover Rate: The Banks's nannies before Mary Poppins arrives.
  • The Hyena: Uncle Albert
  • Hypocritical Singing: Mary sings a lullabye to the kids entitled "Stay Awake."
  • Inexplicably Awesome: Mary is a classic example. She never explains anything, after all.
  • Insignia Rip Off Ritual: Hilariously parodied when Mr. Banks is fired from the bank.
  • Jaw Drop: "We are not a codfish."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mr. Banks.
  • Late to The Punchline/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.
  • London Town
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Jane and Michael.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Stay Awake". It's a lullaby. A very effective one.
    • Also, Burt's own variation on the upbeat "Spoonful Of Sugar", sung as a lyrical Aesop to Mr. Banks, is a virtual Tear Jerker.
  • Magical Guardian
  • Magical Nanny: The original, endlessly referenced and parodied.
  • 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 interacted 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. Bank's employers.
  • The Musical
  • Neologism: "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", although there is some dispute about whether the movie invented the word or merely popularized it. [1]
    • The lyricist mentioned on the 40th anniversary DVD that he started mashing words together to see what sounded interesting and sesquipedalian. [2]
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: 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 Steve Limit: Minor aversion. One of the female names rattled off in the penguin scene is "Jane". Presumably they aren't referring to Jane Banks.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: 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, an Irishman who didn't speak cockney any better than he did.
  • Out of Focus: Mary Poppins, despite being the titular character, becomes the Deuteragonist of the film. The real main characters are Jane and Michael Banks.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: Mary Poppins has one in the chalk painting sequence. Along with a lacy white dress.
  • Parasol Parachute: It goes up as well as down..
  • Parrot Expowhat: 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)

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 due respect, when all is said and done, that there's no such thing as YOU!

  • Proper Lady with a Prim and Proper Bun: Mary Poppins of course! Practically perfect in every way!
  • Politeness Judo: How Mary Poppins wins the horse race.
  • Politically-Correct History: Travers was one of the few classic authors to live long enough to have to personally edit her books to eliminate racist terms and stereotypes. In other cases, such as Enid Blyton, this was done posthumously.
  • Portal Picture: Bert's pavement drawings.
  • Pretty in Mink: Mrs. Banks wears an ermine muff to one of her suffrage rallies.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film folds together the highlights from several of the books.
  • 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. Director Robert Stevenson spent much of his career directing live-action Disney films. The child actors who played Jane and Michael previously appeared in The Three Lives Of Thomasina and later appeared together in The Gnome Mobile. Most of Disneys 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. And, of course, the Sherman Brothers wrote music for several Disney films, mostly in the '60s and '70s.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Mary Poppins hires herself.
    • With, no less, the implication that Mr. Banks is the one who needs to impress her!
    • Also, when Mr. Banks demands an explanation for some shenanigans, she replies "First I should like to make one thing quite clear: I never explain anything."
  • 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.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: One of the film's most famous sequences
    • Ironically enough, the singing penguins from the Chalk Drawing sequence actually make a cameo in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", serving drinks at the Ink & Paint Club. This raises the dilemma that "Mary Poppins" is a movie made in the early 1960s, while "Roger Rabbit" takes place in the early 1940s. The official word on "early" appearances of toons in Roger Rabbit is that said toons were puttering about Toontown waiting for their big break, but another theory is that the godlike existence of Mary Poppins drew the Toons into being,
  • Rummage Fail: Mary Poppins hunting for her tape-measure.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Bert's "high-wire" act in the park provokes this response.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Starting when Mr. Banks is called to the bank to be fired for his kids starting the run on the bank and 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.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: A prim and Proper Lady; 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
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Mary can talk to animals. In the original books, everyone can while they are babies.
  • Supporting Protagonist: A case is often made that Mary Poppins is this trope and the movie is really about George Banks. This line of thinking can also be applied to the stage musical, but not to the original books. In any case, it's true enough that he gets more Character Development than anyone else.
  • 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. Mr. Van Dyke tried doing a serious Cockney accent but found he could only manage a bad one.
  • Token Romance: the 1983 Russian movie tacks on a romance between Mary Poppins and the Banks hippy uncle. Sure, it culminates in great tear jerker of a song but is still doesn't really fit the rest of the film.
    • Weirdly, Bert and Mary Poppins are implied to have had this before the movie begins.
      • The Simpsons parodied this in their spoof of Mary Poppins:

 Groundskeeper Willy: We were engaged to be married! Then she got her eyesight back. Suddenly the ugliest man in Glasgow wasn't good enough for her!

Sherry Bobbins: It's good to see you, Willy.

[beat]

Groundskeeper Willy: That's not what ya said the first time ya saw me!!! [stomps off]

  • Trickster Mentor
  • Villain Song: The stage version not only throws in a villain- Mrs. Andrews- but also gives her a two-part song, "Brimstone and Treacle".
  • 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".
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: And yes, Mr. Banks learns to have fun with his kids by the end.
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Bert. The implied answer being "because he feels like it."
    • Or, he's really as magical as Mary Poppins, if not more so. He's just a lot more humble than she is.
    • In the book, Bert is a jack-of-all-trades, so the movie didn't change anything, except to add the trade of chimney-sweep, which is one he doesn't do in the books. (Bert and Mary Poppins also go through the pavement picture alone, on her day off - no kids, it's a date!)

... in a most de-light-ful way!

Notes

  1. But if you say it loud enough, it doesn't matter, because you'll always sound precocious.
  2. And it is so rococo-co-cious.
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