Disney carries over most of the material from the original DVD but adds on a couple of new features, starting with Becoming Mr. Sherman, a 14-minute (sort of) discussion between composer Richard Sherman and actor Jason Schwartzman, who plays Sherman in the upcoming film Saving Mr. Banks. Unfortunately this is more of an ad for Saving Mr. Banks, laced with a number of clips from the film and even ending with its trailer. In between these obvious promo clips we hear some demo recordings and Sherman does talk about what it was like working with Disney and on the film, and even gives examples of his working process for some of the numbers in the film. But itís not in-depth, and covers no more than a making-of documentary thatís found elsewhere in the features.
Mary-Oke is a karaoke like presentation, delivering a handful of songs from the film and animating the lyrics across the screen. Cute but I doubt I see many using it. It runs about 20-minutes.
We then move on to the ďClassic DVD features,Ē which presents the supplements that appeared on other editions of the film. First is a section devoted to the Broadway version of the story that begins with a 48-minute documentary Mary Poppins: From Screen to Stage, covering, rather thoroughly I might add, the development of the Broadway show. A good chunk of it is devoted to the actors, Gavin Lee and Ashley Brown, who talk about the roles and getting the parts, but looks at the process of adapting the film (and also including other elements from the stories apparently) and designing the look. Admittedly I wasnít feeling the need to watch it, but itís actually a rather decent documentary and not the ad I was actually expecting.
Step in Time presents a clip from the Broadway show, the ďStep in TimeĒ number. It opens with a brief intro by composer George Stilles. It gives a general feel of the show that was actually lacking from the otherwise rather thorough documentary that precedes it. It runs 7-minutes.
The section ďBackstage DisneyĒ presents a majority of the supplements, starting with a rather strong making-of, the 50-minute Supercaligragilisticexpialdocious: The Making of Mary Poppins, which features interviews with a number of cast, crew, and critics/historians, including Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, composer Richard Sherman, and more. It does a decent job covering the making of the film, from Disneyís decadeís long fight to get the rights to the character/story, to casting, composing the numbers, set design and costumes, itís release, and more, even delivering great archival material, including actual recordings of the none-to-impressed author P.L. Travers expressing her disapproval to many things going on. Like most Disney docs of its kind it feels to sugarcoat some things and can feel like itís really only skimming along the surface, but itís a strong making-of and one I think fans of the film will surely enjoy.
The Gala World Premiere is a rather interesting compilation of surviving elements from both television, film (colour and black and white) and radio recordings of the premiere (it was recorded for local television but this footage is apparently lost.) A number of celebrities show up and get stopped on the red carpet and get interviewed, including Ed Wynn, Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, Disney himself, and many others. Running 18-minutes itís a great piece, nicely assembled, and rather seamless.
Following that is footage from the World Gala Permiere Party is around 6-minutes worth of 16mm footage taken from the party after the film (held in a parking lot near the theater.) Audio from a radio broadcast plays over it. Another excellent archival inclusion.
Movie Magic, running about 7-minutes, is a fluffy featurette that looks at some of the filmís looks and effects, covering sets, matte paintings, animatronics, stop motion, old school film tricks (like running film backwards,) and of course the blend of animation and live action. Itís aimed more for kids, giving a very high-level look at the complicated technical aspects to the film. Most others wonít get much out of it.
Deconstruction of a Scene: Jolly Holiday is a little more in-depth. Using the ďJolly HolidayĒ sequence it presents raw live-action footage and, mixed with rough animations and sketches, blending of the live action and animation, and then bits from the final sequence, occasionally in a split-screen format. Not surprisingly the live actors had to work with stand-ins representing the animated characters in a few shots. Itís a surprisingly well put together demonstration, editing together footage from the various sources, and letting the scene play out. It runs about 13-minutes. Thereís also a deconstruction of the Step in Time sequence, which shows rehearsal footage, raw footage shot for the film, and then the blend of backgrounds and matte paintings. This one runs about 5-minutes.
Dick Van Dyke Make-up Test shows silent test footage of the actor in make-up for Mr. Dawes. Van Dyke talks over the footage, explaining how he wanted to do the role and asked Disney for it (ďat no extra chargeĒ) and commenting on the length of time it took to put on the make-up. The feature lasts just over a minute.
There is then a collection of Publicity material which includes the original theatrical and teaser trailers, re-issue trailers from 1966 and 1973, original television spots, and what appears to be a trailer for a premiere, featuring Andrews stating she will not be able to attend but wishes her best.
Leaving the ďBackstage DisneyĒ section we next move on to ďMusic & MoreĒ, and this section starts with A Magical Musical Reunion, a 17-minute featurette featuring Anderws, Van Dyke, and composer Richard Sherman talking about the filmís music and the writing process. A nice reflection, though ultimately it doesnít offer too much.
Sherman then presents a deleted song, Chimpanzoo, which runs a minute-and-a-half. We also get what look like storyboards and concept drawings for the scene the song would have played over. This is also followed by a Disney Song Selection, which is a feature that appears on a lot of Disney releases. Basically it lists the songs and allows you to jump right to them in the movie. You can also optionally display the lyrics (subtitles.)
The disc also includes a ďbonusĒ short called The Cat That Looked at a King, which features Andrews taking two children into an animated world. It feels rather rushed, specifically the live-action sequence with Andrews, which feels like it was quickly filmed while they had her there filming the other features. It runs less than 10-minutes and isnít terribly good.
Then buried deep in here is the DVDís audio commentary, featuring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice, Richard Sherman, and Robert Sherman. Itís similar to older Criterion tracks where people have been recorded separately or in groups, and then edited together. Van Dyke and Andrews are recorded together, as are Karen Dotrice and Richard Sherman. Robert Sherman is recorded on his own. Thereís also some archival material featuring some of the participants of the track, director Robert Stevenson, and even Disney himself. The track is actually a pleasant surprise. Itís not a wholly in-depth track, with other features probably covering the filmís production a little better, but itís entertaining enough to listen to every reflect on the time period and working on a film that Disney has been working for decades to get made. I never felt it had a true focus but itís still rather entertaining.
Not everything has been carried over. There was an extended interview with Sherman on the DVD that doesnít appear here, though Iím guessing the producers may have considered it repetitive after the new interview between him and Schwartzman. In all, though, what we get is generally decent. We get a decent making-of and audio commentary, some great archival material, and even a surprisingly engaging look at the Broadway musical. 7/10