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Mary Poppins

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Mary Poppins
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General Information
Type English Live Action
Created by Robert Stevenson
Years on Air 1964
Movies 1

Plot

Airdate: August 27, 1964

In Edwardian London, 1910, Bert, a Cockney jack-of-all-trades is performing as a one-man band at a park entrance. He suddenly senses a strange change in the wind and senses that his good friend is about to return. After the show, he speaks directly to the audience, introducing viewers first to Admiral Boom and Mr. Binnacle, who keep his exterior rooftop "Ship Shape" by firing the cannon at 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM each day, and then to the well-to-do but troubled Banks family, headed by the cold and aloof George Banks and the loving, but highly distracted suffragette Winifred Banks.

The Banks' latest nanny, Katie Nanna, quits her position, exasperated after the Banks children, Jane and Michael, have run off for the fourth time this week. Ellen, the maid, pleads with her not to leave, but Mrs. Brill, the cook, is pleased with her departing. Winifred returns home, and engages all three of them in a rousing rendition of "Sister Suffragette" before Katie Nanna walks out. George comes home from his job at the Dawes, Tomes, Mousley, Grubbs, Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, and Winifred reveals the children are missing. The constable arrives with the children, who ask their father to help repair their damaged kite, but he dismisses them and advertises for an authoritarian nanny-replacement. Jane and Michael draft their own advertisement asking for a fun, kind-hearted and caring person, but George tears up the paper and throws it in the fireplace. Unnoticed, the remains of the note float up the chimney.

The next day, a queue of elderly and disagreeable looking candidates await at the door. However, a strong gust of wind blows the queue away and Mary Poppins floats down, held aloft by her magical umbrella, to apply. George is stunned to see that this calmly defiant new nanny has responded to the children's ad despite the fact that he destroyed it. Although Mary Poppins recites the ad, she also tells George that she is firm and will also lay down ground rules with the children. As he puzzles, Mary employs herself and begins work, saying that she will stay for a trial period of one week, before deciding if she will take a permanent position. When she joins the children upstairs, the two of them face surprises of their own: Mary Poppins possesses a bottomless carpetbag, and makes contents of the children's nursery come to life and tidy themselves (by snapping her fingers).

The trio then meet Bert in the park at work as a screever, where Mary Poppins uses one of his chalk pavement drawings as a gateway to an outing in an animated countryside. In the drawing, the children ride a merry-go-round while Mary and Bert enjoy a stroll through the countryside, during which Bert dances at an outdoor bistro with four penguin waiters. Mary Poppins and Bert join the children on the merry-go-round, from which the horses break loose and take their riders on a trip through the countryside. As they pass by a fox hunt, Bert maneuvers to save an Irish-accented fox from the hounds. Finally the quartet finds themselves in a horse race, which Mary wins. It is here that Mary Poppins first employs the nonsense word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". The outing is interrupted by a rainstorm, which washes away the chalk drawing and returns the travelers back to the park.

That evening, the children ask Mary Poppins how long she will stay with them and she agrees to stay until the winds change. She then sternly dismisses their notion that she won the horse race in the countryside and then lulls the restless children to sleep with a lullaby. The next day, they visit Mary Poppins's jovial Uncle Albert, after she hears that he has floated up in the air again due to his unstoppable laughing. They join him in a tea party in his house in mid-air, telling various jokes to each other, though Mary Poppins finds it childish and ridiculous. They all get down only when one has to think of something sad, when Mary Poppins firmly says it is time for them all to go home, which makes Uncle Albert very sad to hear this, even though Jane and Michael promise they will see him again. Bert attempts to tell a joke to cheer him up, but it fails miserably and is left crying as well.

George grows increasingly annoyed with his children's stories of their adventures, but Mary Poppins effortlessly inverts his attempted dismissal of her services into a plan to take his children with him to his bank. On the way there, as they pass St Paul's Cathedral, the children see "The Bird Woman" (Jane Darwell), of whom Mary Poppins sang to them the night before, and they want to feed the birds around her, but George will have none of it as he expresses his lack of interest in what Mary Poppins says. Upon arriving at the bank, Mr. Dawes Jr. and Mr. Dawes Sr. — George's employers — aggressively try to persuade Michael to invest his tuppence in the bank to the point of actually snatching it out of his hand without waiting for his permission. When Michael protests, the other customers misunderstand his cries and start a run on the bank that forces the bank to suspend business. The Bank Guard (Jimmy Logan) chases the children causing them to flee and wander into the slums of the East End of London. Fortunately, they run into Bert, now employed as a chimney sweep. He takes them safely home, explaining that their father does not hate them, but that he has problems of his own, and that unlike the children, has no one to turn to but himself.

At home, Winifred employs Bert to clean the family's chimney and mind the children. Mary Poppins then arrives back from her day off and warns of the dangers of this activity, but is too late as the children are both sucked up the chimney to the roof. Bert and Mary follow them and lead a tour of the rooftops of London that concludes with a joyful dance with Bert's chimney-sweep colleagues. Admiral Boom, who mistakes them for Hottentots, orders Mr. Binnacle to set off a volley of fireworks which sends the entire gathering back down a chimney, which turns out to be the Banks' chimney. After they all dance around the house, George arrives home, causing the chimney sweepers to depart out into the street, where they disappear from view, concluding the festivities. George angrily inquires what the meaning of this is, to which Mary Poppins replies that she never explains anything. George then receives a phone call from work ordering him to return immediately for disciplinary action. As George gathers his strength, Bert points out that while George does need to make a living, Jane and Michael's childhood will come and go in a blink of an eye, and he needs to be a part of it while Jane and Michael are still children. Jane and Michael apologize, and Michael gives him his tuppence in the hope that it will make things all right. George gently accepts the offering.

George walks alone through the night-time streets, noticing several of the buildings around him, including the Cathedral and steps on which the bird woman was sitting earlier. At the bank, he is formally humiliated and sacked for causing the first run on the bank since 1773 (it is stated that the bank supplied the money for the shipment of tea destroyed in the Boston Tea Party, during which the colonists tossed the tea into Boston Harbor). However, after being at a loss when ordered to give a statement, George blurts out "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," gives Dawes the tuppence, tells one of Uncle Albert's jokes, and joyfully departs. Dawes mulls over the joke, finally "gets" it and floats up into the air, laughing.

The next morning, the wind changes direction, and so Mary Poppins gets ready to depart. Meanwhile, the police cannot find George, and fear that he might have become suicidal. However, George, now loving and joyful, reappears with the now-mended kite for Jane and Michael. Winifred uses one of her suffragette ribbons as the kite's tail. At the park, Mr. Dawes Jr., now in charge of the bank, says that his father literally died laughing from his joke. George offers his condolences, but Mr. Dawes Jr. explains that his father died happy and he re-employs George to fill the opening as junior partner. With her work done, Mary Poppins takes to the air with a fond farewell from Bert, telling her not to stay away too long.


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