living in

Living In: Mary Poppins

by Maxwell Tielman

Like any boy with a slightly theatrical bent, I had a bit of a Julie Andrews obsession when I was younger. As far as I was concerned, girlfriend could do no wrong. I first came across Ms. Andrews’ angelic visage in the Rogers and Hammerstein classic, The Sound of Music, in which she played the plucky nun-turned-governess Maria Von Trapp. Although that film had its own sort of impact on my young self (you could often find me reenacting the Hills Are Alive scene around my back yard), I don’t think I’m alone in saying that, as far as Julie Andrews films go, Mary Poppins is where it’s at. Basically Walt Disney’s version of a hallucinogen trip, Mary Poppins is a wild, colorful romp through Victorian Britain with Julie Andrews as the sassy, “practically perfect” Supernanny from the sky. Flying in on her umbrella when she is summoned by two young children, Mary Poppins teaches important life lessons like, “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” She also talks to the animals, wins every race, and can take you into a magical cartoon world where “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” means something. I could have certainly gotten by Do-Re-Mi on with Maria Von Trapp, I think I’d take my nanny with magic powers any day. Ain’t nobody messing with Mary Poppins. —Max

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Movie: Mary Poppins

Year: 1964

Director: Robert Stevenson

Starring: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke

Art Direction: Carroll Clark, William H. Tuntke

Set Decoration: Hal Gausman, Emile Kuri

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  • When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be Julie Andrews. I dressed as Mary Poppins for Halloween when I was just old enough to figure out how to glue flowers to my hat.

    That Merry-go-round brooch is killing me. I love it.

  • My mother took me to this movie the day it opened — my first theater movie experience. We wore dresses and our “good” shoes. Thanks for sparking that memory!

  • I’ve been following design sponge for years but this is the first “living in” post I ever actually read. I’m dying, you are hysterical, I love it. Can’t wait for the next one and kids want to watch Mary Poppins tonight.

  • Mary Poppins was my hero when I was a little girl, and I still wish I could make my toys put themselves away! Come to think of it I’d like one of those bottomless carpetbags too. :)

  • This movie is just so cool, with references to the English women’s movement (“Mrs. Pankhurst has been clapped in irons again!”) — even though the votes for women banner ends up rather pointedly as the tail on the kids’ kite. Still, for the caricature on British character at the end of empire, and that amazing animation with live action. I watch it over and over. And I’ve always had a thing about roofs since I could climb, so the chimney sweep rooftop scenes really get to me. I completely agree, this one is where it’s at!

  • I adore mary poppins. she’s the only reason I don’t mind ‘mary’ being my middle name :)

    on a related note, I just stumbled across a new yorker profile of p.l. travers, the author of mary poppins –

  • Nice touch with the kite! I loved the movie as a kid and was thrilled when my daughter became obsessed with it, too. One nitpick, though, I’m pretty sure the movie took place in *Edwardian* England, not Victorian.

  • I love it! I was Mary Poppins for Halloween last year and my DIY costume won me $100 at my work costume contest! My prep looked pretty similar to what you’ve assembled here. I even had a little bird. I might just have to get some of those home items, don my homemade hat and just hang out as Mary some more. My favorite line from the soundtrack is “Anything can happen if you let it.”

  • Leigh Ann is right about the edwardian! Mr Banks even sings about it:”It’s grand to be a gentleman in 1910, King Edwards on the throne its the age of men!”

    Factual faux pas aside, I agree it is clearly one of the best creations ever! I’m working on my boyfriend to go to our next dress up party as bert so I can be Mary :)

    At 18 years old it was the first “proper” theatre production I went to see and the first time I’d been to London. WOW. Nothing I’ve seen since has come close to how amazing it was, and the film soundtrack is my number 1 cleaning track….

    I’m such a Julie Andrews fan that I even watched the princess diaries just so I could see the first time she sang after her throat operation problems.

    What puts the cherry on the cake for me is that she wears a bowtie and looks awesome in it.

  • Such a huge fan of Mary Poppins! Seen the film far too many times :) Check out this cute wrapping paper

  • As a huge fan of Mary P., I could not skip this Living in – and found Max to be a great storyteller! This is one of the best short essays you’ve written here, Max. I can’t wait for the next one, as they bring an amazing touch of personal memories mixed with design experience mixed with enthusiasm mixed with professionalism!

  • *swoon*
    my mom will never let me forget that I watched this movie literally on loop when I was a toddler. Obsessed with the summery vibe and wishing I had a dress and accent as lovely as Julie’s

  • What a fabulous post Max, this takes me back to a time that I could almost believe Mary Poppins was real. So magical, thoughtful and demanding in a style all her own! I couldn’t count how many times I have watched that movie…at the movies, VHF, DVD & now BlueRay!

  • I LOVE Mary Poppins!! Seriously, it’s been the greatest thing in the world since I was a kid. Playing on the ceiling because I’m laughing too much? That would be awesome (and was a reoccurring dream of mine when I was little). Honestly, I love this film, but while Mary Poppins is spectacular, don’t forget about Bert!

  • This is the first movie I ever went to. My mother said after I finised the popcorn I told her I wanted to go home!

  • So happy to see this. A few months ago we got our first vanity plate for the new car… you can guess the name: it’s practically perfect, 7 letters! So many people smile at us these days! All because of Mary. Love her.

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