Oh, it’s a jolly holiday with Julie
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Mary Poppins -- 40th Anniversary Edition
You could call these crown Julies. The 1957 live CBS musical and the 1964 Walt Disney musical classic were two of Julie Andrews’ watershed projects early in her career. “Cinderella” was the only original musical Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote for television, and more than 100 million people watched Andrews and her costars perform it live on March 31, 1957. “Mary Poppins” was Andrews’ first film, and she won an Oscar for her indelible performance as P.L. Travers’ practically perfect nanny.
Though this enchanting musical version of the classic fairy tale was remade for TV in the 1960s with Lesley Ann Warren and in 1997 with Brandy, neither compares to the original. Andrews, who was appearing on Broadway in “My Fair Lady,” is perfectly cast as the young woman dressed in tatters and forced to work for her snotty stepmother (Ilka Chase) and two ugly stepsisters (the very amusing Kaye Ballard and Alice Ghostley). Jon Cypher cuts a handsome figure as Prince Charming, and Howard Lindsay, who co-wrote and starred in the Broadway play “Life With Father,” and his wife, Dorothy Stickney, play the prince’s rather befuddled parents. Edie Adams adds a lot of good humor as Cinderella’s fairy godmother. The lilting score features such tunes as “In My Own Little Corner” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?”
The special had never been repeated on television after the live broadcast until this month on PBS’ “Great Performances.”
Extras: An appearance by Rodgers and Hammerstein on “The Ed Sullivan Show” promoting “Cinderella,” numerous photos from the production and a retrospective documentary that, unfortunately, looks like it was shot on a meager budget.
It’s hard to believe that this delectable musical has reached its 40th birthday. “Mary” certainly doesn’t show its age. The film is just as tuneful and kicky as it was four decades ago.
Andrews, who had been passed over for the role of Eliza in the film version of “My Fair Lady,” was appearing on Broadway in “Camelot” when Walt Disney saw her in the musical and asked if she would appear in a musical version of “Mary Poppins.” Filming was postponed because she was pregnant, but shortly after giving birth to daughter Emma Kate, Andrews and her then-husband, designer Tony Walton (Disney also hired him), came to Hollywood, and the rest is history. Not only was “Mary Poppins” the first Disney production nominated for a best film Oscar, it turned Andrews into a superstar.
Extras: Just like Mary herself, the two-disc special edition is practically perfect. The first disc includes warm, funny and nostalgic commentary with Andrews and costar Dick Van Dyke, who have remained close over the years, as well as Richard Sherman, who composed the Oscar-winning score with his brother Robert, and Karen Dotrice, who played the young Jane Banks. There are also archival recordings with Disney on the project. Rounding out the first disc is “The Cat That Looked Like a King,” a new animated short with the ageless Andrews and a “Poppins Pop-up Fun Facts” viewing mode.
The second disc includes a comprehensive new documentary, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making of Mary Poppins,” which features rare, behind-the-scenes footage, a charming “Magical Musical Reunion” with Andrews, Van Dyke and Richard Sherman, the deleted song “Chimpanzoo” and Van Dyke’s makeup test.
There’s also a fascinating deconstruction of the scenes “Jolly Holiday” and “Step in Time”; “A Musical Journey With Richard Sherman” about the classic score; sing-along songs; footage from the gala Hollywood movie premiere and after-party; the “I Love to Laugh” interactive game; and a glimpse at the then-cutting-edge special effects.