Thursday, August 15, 2013

2013 D23 Expo: A Tribute to Mary Poppins (1964), Part One

It's been a busy few days since last weekend's D23 Expo came to a close, but now it's time to begin taking a look back at a very special experience. Disney did an absolutely terrific job with this year's Expo.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this year's Expo was the significant attention paid to MARY POPPINS (1964), which will mark its Golden Anniversary next year.

The first thing I did at the Expo was attend a talk on the film by Disney Chief Archivist Emeritus Dave Smith.

Dave shared all sorts of fun POPPINS material, starting with a copy of a 1944 letter Walt's brother Roy wrote to Walt about meeting author P.L. Travers and trying to obtain the rights to MARY POPPINS. It would be another two decades before Disney would bring the film to the screen! He was nothing if not persistent, and it certainly paid off.

There were many other interesting items, including a rare trailer, outtakes from filming, candid set stills, footage as it looked before the special effects were added in, and snippets from the many hours of story conference audio recordings with author Travers, who was quite an opinionated, bossy lady. It's going to be fun to see Emma Thompson portray her in SAVING MR. BANKS!

Travers tried to exert control over the film till the very last possible moment. Dave told the story that after the premiere, Travers told Walt that he definitely needed to take the animation out of the film, to which Disney replied, "Pamela, that ship has sailed!"

This year's Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit had a large room devoted entirely to MARY POPPINS artifacts.

I had previously seen Mary's hat with the cherries on a 2010 visit to the Disney Studios, but the Expo exhibit was truly impressive. (Click any photo to enlarge for a closer look.)

This matte painting was by Peter Ellenshaw; I just saw his son, Harrison Ellenshaw, speak at a screening of 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954). Do you see the cutout for Mary to sit in the clouds?

More beautiful production art:

MARY POPPINS was the first film I ever saw in a theater, so it's been a part of my life for almost as long as I have memories. I found seeing the "Feed the Birds" snow globe particularly moving. Those are chimney sweep bristles in the background!

Here are blocks from "Spoonful of Sugar":

Mary's "Jolly Holiday" carousel horse has been lovingly restored:

Bert's horse still needs work:

And here are storyboards planning the "Jolly Holiday" sequence:

The weekend also held some memorable performances of songs from the MARY POPPINS score at two different concerts, including one with composer Richard Sherman playing and singing the score he created with his brother Robert.  I'll share more about the concerts in a future Expo post.

Coming next: More MARY POPPINS photos from the Archives exhibit, particularly focusing on the costumes. (Update: Here is Part Two on the MARY POPPINS exhibit!)

Related Posts: Becoming Mary Poppins (December 14, 2005); Today at Disneyland: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! (Julie Andrews visit on April 8, 2008); Sherman Brothers Honored at Disneyland (Main Street tribute window dedicated on March 11, 2010); Today at Destination D: Disneyland '55 (Richard Sherman concert on September 24, 2010); Tonight's Theater: Mary Poppins (August 4, 2011); Disneyland: The Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe (January 29, 2012); Disney Composer Robert Sherman Dies at 86 (March 6, 2012); Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animation (Dick Van Dyke concert on August 11, 2012).


Blogger Kristina D said...

Truly impressive and fun. Makes your connection to the movie that much more personal and real. Love the Ellenshaw art...

2:21 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

Love it! This would be so cool to see. Looking forward to next post!

7:49 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Golden anniversary! It seems hard to believe. Also hard to believe that I've somehow never managed to see Mary Poppins in widescreen. I'll have to do something about that. I have a lot of fond childhood memories of it too—it was often my movie of choice when I had to stay bundled up on the couch with a cold. :)

8:28 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

If I had gone to Expo the talk with Dave Smith is one I would have liked to attend. I would be especially interested in hearing the real tapes with PL Travers. I too am so looking forward to Saving Mr. Banks.

10:24 AM  

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