Fellow Film Club Members & Movie Buffs:
Welcome to 2014, and the beginning of the eleventh year for the Tacoma Film Club. The TFC Holiday party was well attended, and the film RARE EXPORTS was fun to watch. We sincerely hope you all had a fabulous holiday. I spent it in Texas with the in-laws, and then had the singular thrill of spending 20 hours at three airports getting home on New Years Eve day, still in the air from San Francisco when the ball fell at midnight. The new winter storms back east have already canceled thousands of flights today; isn’t travel fun these days?
We are inaugurating this year’s picks with Walt Disney’s MARY POPPINS (1964), as a direct result of the Producers picking the wonderful theatrical film, SAVING MR. BANKS, reinvigorating our interest in the saga of bringing author P.L. Travers’ (real name Helen Goff) novel to the screen. The film was directed by veteran Disney alumni, Robert Stevenson, a Brit who became aligned with Disney in the early 1950’s. He directed 58 films from 1932-1985, and over 24 of them were for Disney–movies like THE LOVE BUG (1968), BEDKNOBS & BROOMSTICKS (1971), THE SHAGGY DA, OLD YELLER (1957), & DARBY O’GILL & THE LITTLE PEOPLE (1959). Some of his earlier films included BACK STREET (1941), JANE EYRE (1943), THE WOMAN ON PIER 13 (1949), & THE LAS VEGAS STORY (1952).
The musical score was written by Robert B. Sherman, & Richard M Sherman who wrote more than 30 songs for it, fighting with P.L. Travers on every one of them. They won several Oscars for their efforts.
This film was nominated for 13 Oscars, and it won 5 of the, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Music, Best original Song, & Best Cinematography ( the film shot entirely indoors using all of the sound stages at Disney).
MARY POPPINS (1964)
Directed by Robert Stevenson @ 139 minutes.
The film starred Julie Andrews (her film debut), Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynnis Johns, Elsa Lancaster, Ed Wynn, Arthur Treacher, Reginald Owens, & Jane Darwell.
Synopsis: This is the tale of a super-Nanny, with an umbrella that allowed her to fly, who arrived at the Banks home at the request of its unhappy children, and proceed to set things “right”, with the aid of her rather extraordinary magical powers.
Tagline: See it Again and Again with that Supercalifragilistic music.
Trivia: The film cost Disney 6 million dollars, and it has returned over 102 billion in box office & video sales. Disney hired Julie Andrews after seeing her doing excerpts from the Broadway musical CAMELOT, and then attending the show himself. At first, this being her film debut, she would not sign to do it until Jack Warner chose Audrey Hepburn to star in MY FAIR LADY, another Broadway hit for Andrews.
Disney held back the start of production because Andrews was pregnant. Andrews really liked the song STAY AWAKE, and when she heard it was to be deleted, she wrote P.L. Travers, and pleaded its case. Travers insisted it be reinstated. Andrews wore a wig as Poppins.
Disney was infamous for not attending the premiere of his films, but he attended this one, his first since SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARVES (1937). Before Disney decided to change Mary Poppins from the strict no-nonsence Nanny of the novel, he did consider casting Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, or Mary Martin in the lead. P.L. Travers “consulted” on the movie, and would not sign off the film rights until 1962. Travers, who lived to be 96 years old, never forgave Disney for what she considered a “vulgar & disrespectful adaptation” of her novel. In reality she left the movie premiere in tears. 40 years later she held up production of the Broadway musical until Disney was not allowed to participate in the show; but after her death, Disney Studios jumped in and supported the musical play. It opened on Broadway in 2006, and had 2600 performances before its close in Spring 2013.
Dick Van Dyke really enjoyed playing Bert, but even he felt he was a bit miscast, suggesting that either Jim Dale or Ron Moody might have been better in the part. At one point Disney considered casting Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire, or Cary Grant as Bert. David Tomlinson was not sure he was right for Mr. Banks, being unsure of his singing voice. Other actors considered for Mr. Banks included Richard Harris, Terry-Thomas, George Sanders, James Mason, & even Donald Sutherland.
Rotten Tomatoes rated the film at 98% Critics approval, and 86% of Audience approval.
VARIETY wrote: Julie Andrews first appearance on the screen is a signal triumph, and she performs as easily as she sings, displaying a fresh beauty.
TIME Magazine wrote: The sets are luxuriant, the songs lilting, the scenario witty but impeccably sentimental, and the supporting cast only a pin feather away from perfection.
Peter Canavese of GROUCHO REVIEWS wrote: One of the great movie musicals, of that rare breed of deathless family entertainment that’s guaranteed to transfix children well beyond its 50th Anniversary.
Others wrote: Practically perfect in every way–Disney at his most lavish, his greatest hit–this is deservedly a mega-hit–one of the greatest children’s films ever made.
So, even though this notice comes a bit later than usual, please join us this Friday, January 3, 2014, for the screening of Walt Disney’s MARY POPPINS (1964). It will screen at our home base the Center for Spiritual Living, located at 206 North J Street, on the corner of J Street & Division, across the street from the Group Health Hospital. Arrive early, around 6:15 p.m., and join some of us downstairs for fellowship & fun. It is permitted to bring snacks & beverages, including wine, to share with others–but please remember that no food or drink can be brought upstairs to the sanctuary while watching the movie. Please clean up the kitchen before coming upstairs.
MARY POPPINS will screen at 7:15 p.m., and it runs long @ 139 minutes ( 2 hours +), so it will be over before 10 p.m. Let’s all congratulate Michael Kagen for accepting the role of TFC Director for 2014, and the two new Producers, Edyrce Reynolds & Jim Robbins. See you at the movies!