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(50th Anniversary Edition)

MARY POPPINS ($40) is absolutely one of the best fantasy films for children, in addition to being a marvelous technical achievement for its combination of live action performers being integrated into animated sequences. This outstanding Walt Disney Studios classic features an Academy Award winning performance from Julie Andrews, as well as the outstanding collection of songs from Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman that were created for the film. Based upon the series of children's books written by P. L. Travers, the Walt Disney film adaptation tells the story the magical Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews), a nanny extraordinaire who enriches the lives of everyone she encounters. In the film Mary Poppins latest charges are a brother and sister who are virtually ignored by their parents, and have tormented every nanny who has preceded her.

The cast of MARY POPPINS also features Dick Van Dyke in two standout performances. First, Van Dyke is the good-natured multi-profession chimney sweep named Bert, who happens to be a good friend and admirer of Mary Poppins. Second, Van Dyke is Mr. Dawes Sr., the elderly banker who has forgotten about the simple joys of life. During the course of the film Mary, Bert and the children have a number of magical adventures, which eventually bring the children closer to their busy parents, especially their oh so proper English banker of a father. In addition to Andrews and Van Dyke, the top drawer cast of MARY POPPINS also features David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Hermione Baddeley, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber, Elsa Lanchester, Arthur Treacher, Reginald Owen, Reta Shaw and Ed Wynn. As a film, MARY POPPINS stands as the Walt Disney Studio's finest achievement in live action film making, thanks to its mix of humor, song special effects and marvelous performances. The movie is so good that MARY POPPINS took home Oscars for Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Special Visual Effects, Best Musical Score and Best Song (Chim Chim Cher-ee).

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made MARY POPPINS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. I want to say there a two ways to describe the high definition video presentation of MARY POPPINS. The first is "Practically Perfect In Every Way" while the other is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Either way, MARY POPPINS looks gorgeous on Blu-ray. The presentation is wonderfully filmic, with an appreciable level of grain throughout, which prevents that digital, over-scrubbed appearance that happens to far too may vintage films. Image clarity and detail is generally excellent, but shots involving optical processing (including animated sequence) do appear softer than those that are untouched. Colors are nicely saturated and do pop in places, especially where the animation is concerned. The picture also produces very attractive and warm flesh tones. Blacks are inky and deep, while the whites appear crisp and stable. Contrast is quite good and shadow detail does a fine job for a vintage film. The elements from which MARY POPPINS has been mastered are free from excessive defects or signs of age.

MARY POPPINS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that MARY POPPINS is a film that is five decades old, it should come as no surprise that the multi-channel sound mix doesn't come across in the same manner as a modern film, nor does it feature the same level of directionality. Dialogue remains locked front and center, while the music is allowed to envelop the listener from all the outlying speakers. There are some nice bits of directionality, but it is never in excess. Thanks to the lossless encode, the music sound remarkably good and even better than I expected for such vintage recordings. However, it should be noted that the music is still somewhat thinner sounding than modern recordings. Lower registers have some oomph, but this never seems artificial. The soundtrack has been digitally cleaned to remove all signs of age and sonic limitations inherent in older analogue recordings. Dialogue is crisp, clean and always easy to understand. A cleaned up version of the film’s original theatrical soundtrack is also present on this release, as are English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, many of which have been ported from previous DVD releases. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with composers/lyricists Richard and Robert Sherman along with actors Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and Karen Dotrice. Featurettes and other programs include Becoming Mr. Sherman which runs fourteen minutes and Disney On Broadway, which is a fifty five minute look at the stage version of MARY POPPINS. The Backstage Disney section includes the fifty one minute documentary The Making Of Mary Poppins, plus vintage featurettes: The Gala World Premiere and The Gala World Premiere Party. Also in the Backstage Disney section is Movie Magic, two Deconstruction Of A Scene featurettes, a Dick Van Dyke Make-Up Test and some Original Trailers, Re-Issue Trailers and TV Spots. The Music & More section contains a seventeen minute retrospective entitled A Magical Musical Reunion Featuring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke And Richard Sherman, plus a Deleted Song "Chimpanzoo", a Disney Song Selection and a Movie Sing-Along track. There is also the ten minute The Cat That Looked At A King animated short.  Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are still on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, while a Digital Copy is just a download away.

MARY POPPINS is a Walt Disney classic, which is certain to be enjoyed by children of all ages. The Blu-ray edition of MARY POPPINS is "Practically Perfect In Every Way" or perhaps better described as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Either way, MARY POPPINS is must have. Absolutely recommended.


Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) (1964)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2013 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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