It’s a Jolly Holiday For Mary!

Love this poster. Looks like it’s staring Gene Van Kelly And Cyd Andrews.

Happy Birthday, Mary Poppins! You’ve aged quite gracefully!

Today, Walt Disney’s masterpiece (and this DisNerd’s favorite Disney live action movie) turns 50, and we celebrate all things Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in honor of its release.

Instead of posting every reason I love this movie (including the Sherman Brothers’ most amazing score), I thought I’d share my absolute favorite part of the movie, then open it up to you, dear readers, to share with the DisNerd community your favorite part as well!

As magical as Mary Poppins is in the movie (in no small part to the amazing performance of Julie Andrews), the defining moment for me comes from a scene where Ms. Poppins is absent. After an incredibly and understandably frazzled Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson) has returned from a career defining (and not in a good way) day at work, after chasing off countless chimney sweeps, and seeing the one person he blames for all of his problems, George Banks is left to reflect on his misfortunes as he sees them while Bert the chimney sweep (Dick Van Dyke) finishes up his job. His utter disappointment in anyone but himself is quite clear, and Bert is all too understanding. Watch the look in his eyes as he hears Mr. Banks pour out his frustrations. He realizes the problem of a man not being able to see past himself, and figures out a way to reverse the tables, allowing George to take a long look at himself. Mary may have come to save the family, but in no small way, it’s Bert who helps to “save Mr. Banks.” There is some true magic in that as well, and this scene and song have helped me to shape my life philosophy, especially when it comes to spending time with my family. I don’t think there will ever be a time when it won’t get to me.

Now it’s your turn, friends! Do you have a favorite scene or song from Mary Poppins? Sound off below – we’d love to hear and discuss! In turn, your pick may be featured on our Facebook page, as we continue to celebrate this motion picture achievement over the next couple days!

Happy birthday, Mary Poppins! No wonder that it’s you (along with Bert, the Banks family, Uncle Albert, Admiral Boom and so many others) that we love!

Thankful for the Sherman Brothers

Note: During the months of November and December, I will be posting something I am thankful for within the spectrum of Disney. With so much negativity in the world, I encourage everyone to be thankful and count their blessings.

Sometimes it’s the people you’ve never met that influence you the most.

As many long time readers know from previous posts, The Sherman Brothers (Richard and Robert) come up rather frequently in my blog. This is with good reason: next to perhaps Walt himself, those two have more influence on me than anyone else has in the history of the Walt Disney Company. As I’ve stated before, their interviews on the Mary Poppins soundtrack opened me to a world of the musical process of writing, helping me appreciate song and score in movies even more. The lyrics and tone of “A Man Has Dreams/ A Spoonful Of Sugar” from Mary Poppins (combined with the superb delivery of David Tomlinson and Dick Van Dyke) leave me with a lump in my throat every time. The fun mix of melodrama and a rousing good time on “Let’s Have a Drink On It” from The Happiest Millionaire make it one of my all-time favorite Disney songs.

But their ability to entertain and stir emotion reaches beyond just the Disney realm. “You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful, and You’re Mine)” is so infectious, it’ll stick in one’s head for days almost as much as “It’s a Small World.” For many, the songs from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” remain classics as well (perhaps the songs of the brothers, along with Dick Van Dyke, are the reason many people think this one IS a Disney film!). Although I didn’t realize it until I watched “The Boys – The Sherman Brothers Story,” the two were responsible for one of the saddest songs of my childhood. The haunting music and lyrics in context with the happenings of “Snoopy Come Home,” are so powerful I can’t listen to this song without feeling extreme sadness. That, my friends, is the power of great music and lyric writing.

The two brothers have surpassed being “just writing Disney music” as many would think of them. They’ve become timeless. In the words of publicist and Disney historian Tim O’Day, ” They are the ‘Gershwin Brothers’ of Disney (and beyond). They and their work need to be elevated above the category of ‘children’s music.’ ” I couldn’t agree more, Tim. And in this season I am thankful for the two brothers that made me believe that flying a kite was excellent therapy. That Annette was indeed a pineapple princess. That it really IS a small world, after all.

Richard (left) and Robert – Two very different brothers who left an amazing mark on the musical world.

The Sherman Brothers: A Personal Tribute

(Note: Volumes have been spoken and written about the Sherman Brothers, both before and after the passing of Robert Sherman. This is my personal tribute to both brothers and the profound impact they had on my life. For a more comprehensive history, I highly recommend the movie “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story,” directed by (their sons) Jeff and Greg Sherman.)

When I was 16, I went on a choir trip to Disneyland. Before leaving, with a few extra dollars in hand, I made a decision to buy something that would affect me profoundly.

Now, obviously, I knew the music well, so it wasn’t the score that had such a profound effect on me. The last tracks of the CD contained an interview with Richard and Robert Sherman. As they reminisced about the making of the movie and the songs they wrote, Richard would occasionally play at the piano and they would both sing bits from the movie. The first time they started singing their songs, the world of the songwriter really opened up to me.

And I fell in love with the music of The Sherman Brothers.

The interview can be heard here:

Continued here:

Although I had grown up with Disney music since childhood and was aware of their songs, there was something that really clicked.  I found myself paying more and more attention to lyrics of songs, how well they worked within the films. It helped spur my appreciation for the newer works of Menken and Ashman, as well as classic tunes by the likes of Frank Churchill and George Bruns.

In a sense, I suppose you could say my love of Disney music can be attributed to (blamed on?) the Sherman Brothers.

Fast forward to the present. On the morning of March 6th, in the midst of a trip to Disneyland, I woke up to read the news: Robert Sherman had passed away at the age of 86.

Eighty-Six years is an extraordinary life – so many are given so much less – and longetivity and a full life are things to be celebrated. Yet, there was a profound sadness in Robert’s passing. And there was a definite air of bittersweet-ness in the fact that I was at Disneyland when I heard the news of his passing. It allowed my family to pay their respects while riding It’s A Small World. I rode through The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh saluting nothing in general as the music played. I did the silent nod toward the Tiki Room out of respects.

But perhaps the biggest moment came for me from the following story: My four year old daughter had been insistent that we go to Build-a-Bear in Downtown Disney that day; not so she could stuff an animal, but so I could. I told her I didn’t need one. I tried to convince her. Honestly, I didn’t want to spend the money on another plush animal. However, she was adamant, on the verge of tears, telling me that she knew I NEEDED a stuffed friend. Begging that I do it for me, not for her. Then inspiration struck. I agreed to stuff an animal for me, on the terms that I got to pick it out as well as name it. So with her help, I picked it out, stuffed it and named it.

That evening, Sherman the Dog got to pay his own respects in front of the Sherman Brothers’ window on Main Street, USA.

Thank you, Dick and Bob Sherman. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the interview that inspired at least one young Disney fan (and I’m sure there are countless more). Your relationship may not have been the greatest, but in your works…. it was magical.