Mary Poppins

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Details At A Glance

Category Family Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1964 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 133:46 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper FLIPPER (66:59)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Robert Stevenson

Warner Home Video
Starring Julie Andrews
Dick Van Dyke
David Tomlinson
Glynis Johns
Hermione Baddeley
Karen Dotrice
Matthew Garber
Elsa Lancaster
Arthur Treacher
Reginald Owen
Ed Wynn
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.05:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192 K/bs)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 K/bs)
Dutch (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 K/bs)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    1965 Academy Awards won: Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Effects - Special Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Score - Original and Best Music, Song (Chim Chim Cher-ee). 1965 Academy Award nominations: Best Art Direction - Set Decoration Colour, Best Cinematography - Colour, Best Costume Design - Colour, Best Director (Robert Stevenson), Best Music - Scoring of Music Adaptation, Best Picture, Best Sound and Best Writing - Screenplay Based upon Material From Another Medium. 1965 British Academy Awards won: Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles (Julie Andrews). 1965 Golden Globes won: Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy (Julie Andrews). 1965 Golden Globe nominations: Best Motion Picture - Musical/Comedy, Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy (Dick Van Dyke) and Best Original Score. 1965 Grammy Awards won: Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Show. Not a bad little resume for the film really, all the more remarkable for the fact that this was Julie Andrews' debut in film!

    So obviously we are talking about a film of some stature here, and one of the most beloved films of all time. Which makes it all the more remarkable that this is not a moratorium title of Di$ney. However, after the disaster of Pete's Dragon, a much later effort in the genre of live animation, this was approached with a deal of reticence.

    There would be very few I would have thought that are not aware of the film, and therefore only a brief synopsis is warranted in my view. Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) is a magical nanny with many powers. She arrives to assist banker George Banks (David Tomlinson) and suffragette wife Georgina Banks (Glynis Johns) with their children Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber). Along the way she transports the children to a magical new world with the aid of local chimney sweep Bert (Dick Van Dyke) and shows George Banks that there is more to life than his work at the bank and that his family needs him. In short, the usual dollop of Di$ney syrup. But this is very special Di$ney syrup indeed, and this is one of the best examples of what great heights the Di$ney company could attain, as evidenced by the fact that I must have seen this probably thirty times and it is still as enjoyable today as it was way back when I was a little kid.

    Begin where you like, but superlatives are not going to be adequate here. Julie Andrews is delightful in the lead role, old trooper David Tomlinson is wonderful as the stiff upper lip, middle/upper class British banker, the wonderful Glynis Johns is sublimely superb as the slightly dippy suffragette wife and Dick Van Dyke proves that he is a great entertainer with a great singing/dancing act as the loveable cockney chimney sweep - just a pity that the accent was a little on the poor side! The Shermans provided a superb score and some especially memorable songs, and the whole pot was well mixed by Robert Stevenson. This whole film though is memorable for the special effects- whilst they are not real flash in modern terms, they are still fine and were state of the art thirty seven years ago! Some wonderful blending of animation and live action, including the almost iconic penguin waiters, is not let down too much by the passing of the years, although if you want to be picky there are obvious faults brought to light by the high resolution of the format. If you do want to be really picky, check out the horse race sequence and watch the horses hooves on the railing, and the start of the rooftop scene with the chimney sweeps - wonderful trapeze rig being worn by Julie Andrews there! People have been enjoying the film for thirty seven years now, and they will continue to enjoy it in all its widescreen glory for many more to come.

Transfer Quality


    As the opening credits roll, the reticence seemed to be well founded, but then everything improved enormously. To be blunt for a thirty seven year old film this is a very nice transfer in general.

    The transfer is presented in widescreen format, although it is regrettably not 16x9 enhanced. The theatrical aspect ratio of the film was 1.75:1, yet according to Michael D's wonderfully trustworthy PowerDVD, this is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.05:1. Most unusual ratio, and visually it does look more than 1.85:1 so PowerDVD may be right. Accordingly, it would seem that the film has been incorrectly framed for this release.

    The transfer has in general come up wonderfully in the remastering by Di$ney. The picture is sharp, there is a lot of detail and definition is good. However, that is the generality - in practice there are also some regrettable lapses, especially in the second half of the film. There are some quite grainy sections to the film, which hampers enjoyment just a little. It is also not an especially clear transfer at times. There is the odd hint of some low level noise problems in the transfer, but this is sporadic and may be indicative of problems with the thirty seven year old film.

    The colours have in general come up wonderfully rich and vibrant, although again there are some lapses which do detract especially in the second half of the film; indeed the second half of the film is far less successful in this respect. Especially problematic are the chimney sweeps scenes on the rooftops. The colours are anything but natural here and are prone to poor definition: the transfer becomes very dark indeed and far too rich in tone, resulting in very unnatural skin tones. The fireworks effects result in some minor oversaturation problems too, and this sequence really lets down the entire package. But especially in the first half of the film you can barely find fault and the scenes inside the chalk picture are as good as I have seen on DVD. Wonderful stuff indeed, let down somewhat by the second half of the film.

   There appears to be some evidence of MPEG artefacts in the transfer, notably some minor blockiness in the picture at around 44:45 on side B. There is also a rather weird effect at around 52:30 on side B, as Banks is walking up the steps to the bank. I don't know if it is my eyes or not, but it looks as if his legs are taking the shape of the steps; really weird looking if you notice it. Overall though these problems are not too distracting. Film-to-video artefacts comprised some relatively minor aliasing, but this was not too distracting at all. Where the transfer really stood out though was the noticeable lack of film artefacts: this has really been cleaned up nicely in the remastering.

   Obviously there is a FLIPPER alert required here! Yes folks, this is one of those dreaded things with the get up and turn over coming at 66:59 in the film. Whilst any flip is a disruption really, this one is especially badly placed in the middle of a scene and is so disruptive to the film that it is not funny at all - this and The Rock are vying for the title of the worst located flip on DVD. How Di$ney can butcher this classic in this way is beyond my comprehension. Obviously RSDL formatting was the required choice here, although it is noted that the Region 1 release is actually on a single sided, single layered disc. We can I suppose be thankful that this is apparently the last such abomination to come from this source, but really this demands to be withdrawn and reissued in a decent RSDL format in my view.


   Whilst there are some quibbles about the video transfer, there is not much to complain about with the audio side of things.

   There are four audio tracks on the DVD: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack, an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a Dutch Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to the English default, with some minor sampling of the other tracks.

    The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There appeared to be some audio sync problems with the transfer, which may be the result of sloppy ADR work as it mainly affected the singing.

    The musical score and songs from Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman are absolutely wonderful and so much of what makes this film so great is the contribution made by the music. This is in the very best traditions of magical Di$ney scores and is utterly memorable.

    Apart from one rather noticeable drop out, albeit very brief, at 40:38 there is not a lot wrong with this marvellously remastered soundtrack. This is a gorgeously remastered soundtrack with some lovely use of the front and rear surround channels to provide a nice warmth to the sound. The music is conveyed wonderfully through the rears in particular and the whole soundscape is extremely natural. Thankfully this is a nicely restrained soundtrack and the subwoofer gets only nicely supportive work rather than anything too strident, even during the fireworks scene and the use of the cannon.


    Yeah, right.


    Of limited use, and completely misleading in its colourful nature.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 release misses out on:     The Region 1 release misses out on:     Considering that both versions lack 16x9 enhancement, which would really have made the transfer shine, and they are equally devoid of extras, not even PAL can save the Region 4 release. Go with the Region 1 release because of its consumer friendly formatting, and by all accounts the video transfer generally sounds on a par with the Region 4 release.


    A magnificent film that is to be treasured for many years to come and a film that should be in every collection. However, as you may have gathered from the review, for some reason Side B is not up to the calibre of Side A as far as quality goes, and all the oohs and aahs that Side A gained were more than offset by the disappointments of Side B. Whilst the film is still eminently watchable it is disappointing that there was a degree of inconsistency in the transfers between sides. And the lack of RSDL formatting and 16x9 enhancement is another significant disappointment. Very reluctantly, I have to give this a guarded welcome although you may well be less affected by the Side B transfer than I.

    In general a very good video transfer.

    In general a fine audio transfer.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
15th January 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL