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Mary Poppins: a Disney great

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, February 3, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 21:02

Here’s a fun fact: “Mary Poppins” is the only live action film ever released under the “Walt Disney Pictures” banner in the 90 year history of the Walt Disney Studios to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, just the fourth overall (following “Beauty and the Beast,” “Up” and “Toy Story 3”).

Fifty years after the film’s release, no other live action film from “Walt Disney Pictures” has received a nomination; although a fair share of more-than-worthy candidates (including 2013’s “Saving Mr. Banks”) have been arguably snubbed in that time.

“Mary Poppins” is considered by many critics and film historians to represent the pinnacle of everything Walt Disney had accomplished in the film industry. Combining everything Disney had strived to perfect in his Hollywood career, from the art of animation, to world class musical numbers, groundbreaking special effects and clever gags, with “Mary Poppins” Walt Disney put all his cards on the table. Iconic performances by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, pioneering use of pre green screen technology, and an absolutely unforgettable soundtrack by the Sherman Brothers full of timeless classics from “Feed the Birds” to “Supercali-fragilisticexpialidocious” and ”Chim Chim Chee-re” made “Mary Poppins” an instant classic upon release in 1964 and 50 years later the film continues to stand the test of time.

Disney accumulated an unparalleled record 26 Academy Awards (22 of which were earned competitively) out of a grand total of 59 nominations in his career. But before “Mary Poppins,” Walt had never before had one of his films nominated for Hollywood’s grandest prize. Although the film would lose the Oscar to “My Fair Lady,” Disney still regarded the nomination as an honor and a true validation of his talents by Hollywood as a true filmmaker not simply a “cartoon producer.”

It would remain the only time Walt Disney would ever receive such an honor. “Mary Poppins” was one of the very last films in which Walt maintained an active role in the production before passing away just two years after the film’s release in 1964.

In 2013, in commemoration of the film’s upcoming 50th anniversary, “Walt Disney Pictures” released “Saving Mr. Banks,” a wonderful film that tells the story of Walt Disney’s struggle to acquire the rights to “Mary Poppins” from author P.L. Travers. Despite receiving acclaim and high praise for lead actors Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, due to an exceptionally crowded awards season, the film was not nominated for any major Academy Award.

Fifty years after its release, “Mary Poppins” remains a crown jewel of the Walt Disney Studios and remains one of the finest musicals in the history of American cinema. It is a film every child should see at least once and even more importantly, one that families young and old can enjoy together.

 

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