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Kevin Krock, editor
DVD Review
Mary Poppins
(1964) | Approx. 139 Minutes | Rated G | Reviewed by Tony Phoenix
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio Video
Goodies Interface
Value
Advanced Home Theater - Fly a kite instead

The Movie...

From the first time I ever saw Mary Poppins, it has been one of my personal favorites. The magical music from the Sherman Brothers combine with marvelous story telling to make Walt Disney's most award winning masterpiece. Even today, its popularity is unmatched. It has even been re-released by Disney in theaters as a sing-along. (See here for MousePlanet's coverage of the test sing-alongs done at the El Capitain theater in Hollywood.)

The Goodies...

For a member of the gold collection DVDs, this release is actually decent in the goodies area.

The "Making Of" special is quite enjoyable, though it was also included on my limited edition VHS copy. Many special effects elements we take for granted today originated with Mary Poppins. These include matte paintings and  animatronics. These effects are introduced and explained. Almost every major participant in the movie contributed to this addition and makes it a worthy companion to the movie.

The "Hollywood Goes to a World Premiere" feature is a television special that was recorded at the 1964 premiere of Mary Poppins. While the bulk of the time is dedicated to the arrival of various Hollywood stars, there are few charming parts, especially where Walt discusses how Julie Andrews was selected for her role as Mary.

The trailer is nothing spectacular, though it is fun to see just how heavily the Disney Studios pushed the movie when it was released. The trivia game is pretty disappointing, though it may interest the younger set.

The Video, Audio and Interface...

The video transfer is well done. Having recently seen it on the big screen for the first time in years, I can say that the fidelity is retained, with great color and clarity. There are no noticeable flaws in the transfer.

The audio is equally well done. The music is warm and rich and compares favorably to the theatrical performance. The subtitles are fun to use for doing your own sing-along at home, though the spoken subtitles are abominable, miss quoting fully half of the dialog. A perfect example is George Banks' line referring to Katie Nanna: "She's let the family down" being subtitled as "She's disappointed us." 

The interface is disappointingly plain with no animation or music.

The Advanced Home Theater...

Sadly this is yet again another Disney DVD that didn't get the quality treatment it deserves as far as a special edition. The puny offerings as far as special materials pale in comparison to the "Archive Edition" laserdisc set released a few years back. The picture quality is fair, and the sound is less rich than the more robust Dolby Digital track on the laserdisc. (Laserdiscs are encoded with a higher data rate for Dolby Digital, adding a bit more "air" and fullness to the sound in comparison to the lower bit rate used on a DVD.)

The lack on this title of any of the bonus material that was readily available to them from the laserdisc - along with a non-anamorphic transfer - make this a release you can skip for now. (Could you imagine how insightful a commentary track by the Sherman Brothers could be?) Chances are good that eventually they will do a special edition in the future, hopefully with the proper transfer and bonus materials that this movie deserves.

- Al Lutz

The Final Evaluation...

This is a must include for any family collection. The improved quality audio alone is reason enough to upgrade VHS copies. The wide screen transfer is an added bonus. For those who have to have more bonus material, we can only hope that Disney releases a "Definitive" DVD edition of the movie. 

DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • "Making Of" Documentary
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Hollywood Goes to a World Premiere
  • Trivia Game

Technical Specifications

  • Region 1 Encoded
  • Single-Sided, Dual-Layer
  • 24 Chapters
  • English 5.1 Dolby Digital 
  • French 2.0 Dolby Digital 
  • Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital 
  • English Subtitles
  • Widescreen (1.66:1)
VHS FEATURES

Technical Specifications

  • English Surround
  • Full-frame (1.33:1)

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