Mary Poppins

New this month Question: Was I the only person to be struck quite forcefully (metaphorically speaking) by the contrast between Julie Andrews' portrayal of Mary Poppins, as the ever-smiling, cheerful, friendly, vivacious character, who melts everybody with her charm, which seemed wholly at odds with PL Travers' portrayal of Mary Poppins as acerbic, dour, and cynical, who always seems to get her way by utter, overwhelming arrogance?

Rob Halliday

New this month Answer: Travers, herself, was pretty much the model for the original Mary Poppins: an inflexible authoritarian who insisted on advising and reviewing nearly every aspect of the film's production. Which is why Disney had such a hell of a time securing the rights and molding Travers' story into a lighthearted romp.

Charles Austin Miller

Mary Poppins may somewhat resemble P.L. Travers, but her great-aunt, Helen Morehead, is largely considered to be the inspiration for the character. Travers' mother moved in with her aunts after P.L.'s father died when she was a young girl. The aunt would often say, "Spit spot, into bed."

raywest Premium member

Some aspects of Mary Poppins were based on Travers' great-aunt (the more positive aspects that Travers remembered from childhood) ; but the overall character was Travers herself.

Charles Austin Miller

New this month Answer: No doubt many fans of the books and P.L. Travers agreed with your assessment. However, it was 1964 and Travers' book was heavily "Disneyfied," meaning they imprinted their particular syrupy, family-oriented wholesome stamp on the project, watering down Poppins' dour personality. Travers was appalled by it and would never allow another of her books to be made into a movie. There is a remake in the works, and, hopefully, the current Disney heads will give it a darker tone.

raywest Premium member

Question: The very last mistake listed for Mary Poppins says that you can see the lamp post coming through the bag and the table. I have watched this scene many times (in slow motion and otherwise) and I can't seem to find what you are talking about. Could someone please explain it's talking about?

Chosen answer: There's no reason you shouldn't be able to see it, it's so obvious, unless you have the movie on DVD. It's possible they fixed the framing of the scene for its DVD release.

Question: If the children had run after the kite, and were on the other side of the park, how did they know that Katie Nanna was gone?

Movie Nut

Answer: It wasn't exactly specified exactly how far they ran, so they could have been very far away from her. Also, she probably saw them run away but didn't care too much about it, or at least didn't notice their kite, and just left.

Question: How did they do the trick where Mary takes the lamp and all of the other things out of her bag?

Chosen answer: A false bottom in the bag and a hole in the table with a false background under it so we can't see the person handing the items up through the bag.

Captain Defenestrator Premium member

Question: Does anyone know anything about the word "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?" Who made it up, how they came about to making it up etc.

Hamster Premium member

Chosen answer: For a good explanation, go to The Straight Dope: http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/msupercali.html. It will give you pretty much everything that is known about this odd word.

Richard Welty

Question: Why did the Maids and Katie Nanna scream and look shocked when Mrs. Banks (while she was singing "Sister Suffragette") lift up her dress and show a bit of her legs?

Answer: Morals and how ladies were supposed to act during the turn of the 20th century were very Puritan back then and women were supposed to act proper and dress modestly, and that included not exposing body parts like ankles, legs, shoulders, and arms. The ladies were shocked that Mrs. Banks would act so wild and then have the audacity to expose her legs, which a proper lady would never do.

Scott215

Question: Was medicine a form of punishment back in the time period that the movie was based in because it seems to be constantly mentioned as something to give bad children throughout.

Chosen answer: Liquid medicine often tastes awful. Sugar is often mentioned as something to sweeten bad tastes. "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" is just a way of saying "Fun things can be made out of boring things".

Question: How did they film the shot with the different colour medicines coming out of the same bottle?

Chosen answer: Most likely a variation on the "inexhaustible bottle" magic trick which has existed in various forms for hundreds of years - it relies on different chambers holding different liquids, and air holes in the bottle being covered or not change the pressure and allow the desired liquid to flow out. As the scene is one continuous shot with the entire bottle visible, this seems most likely - the air holes could be on the side away from the camera, with Julie Andrews repositioning her thumb for each colour. More info here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inexhaustible_bottle.

Jon Sandys Premium member

Question: Why does Dick Van Dyke play Bert and Mr. Dawes Sr?

Blibbetyblip

Chosen answer: Because he's a talented actor who can play a broad range of characters. It's not that unusual for an actor to play more than one part in a movie: Edie Murphy played practically his entire family in the two "Nutty Professor" films. There's also a tradition in versions of Peter Pan that the same actor plays the children's father and also Captain Hook.

raywest Premium member

Question: Does anybody know how they did the scene where Mary Poppins is doing a duet with her mirror image?

leyesalot82789

Chosen answer: They recorded her singing in two separate parts and fixed them together. The editors did a good job on it! It may have been made a long time ago but even then the technology was quite advanced enough to carry out that scene.

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