Julie Andrews is 80

The Daughter thinks The Wife looks a bit like Julie Andrews from her Cinderella era, which pleases The Wife.

Julie_AndrewsIt is quite likely that the final episode of MASH that aired in 1983 was NOT the highest-rated non-sports television broadcast in United States history.

Some believe that the 1957 broadcast of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA, starring a rising Broadway performer named Julie Andrews eclipsed it, with 107 million viewers in the US alone.

I watched Julie Andrews in a ton of television performances, including several with Carol Burnett. But it wasn’t until this century that I ever saw her in a movie, when the Daughter introduced me to The Princess Diaries and its sequel, on video. No, I saw parts of Victor/Victoria, but not enough to count it. I’ve also HEARD her in Shrek 2, Enchanted, and Despicable Me.

My Julie movie drought is odd because my mother had the soundtracks of both Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, which I grew up listening to. My current household saw Mary Poppins in December 2011, and The Sound of Music in the Fall of 2013. The Cinderella DVD was a 2009 family Christmas present; The Daughter thinks The Wife looks a bit like Julie from that era, which pleases The Wife.

My favorite Julie Andrews memory is an LP that came out in the mid-1960s. Back then, Firestone Tire Co. produced a new Christmas album every year, for sale at gas stations for a dollar. I STILL own an album featuring Julie Andrews.

Unfortunately, her gorgeous singing voice was wrecked by a throat operation in 1997, as she notes here, limited to a sing-speak kind of voice. She’s now concentrated on writing children’s books.

LISTEN TO:

Sings for King George VI in 1948 (Aged 13)

12 year old Julie Andrews~Polonaise; Je suis Titania – Mignon

In my own little corner -Cinderella

A Spoonful of Sugar – Mary Poppins

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Mary Poppins

The Sound of Music

My Favorite Things – “The Sound of Music”

Edelweiss -The Sound of Music (not the movie version)

The Bells of Christmas, noted at the time, correctly, as “one of the best new Christmas Carols to come along in years.”

MOVIE REVIEW: Saving Mr. Banks

It was Julie Andrew and her husband Tony Dalton Disney personally toured Disneyland with, not Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers.

SavingMrBanks The Wife and I saw Saving Mr. Banks a few weeks ago at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, and it was well-crafted, with Emma Thompson quite good as P. L. Travers, creator of Mary Poppins. Even more impressive was Annie Rose Buckley, in her first film, as the writer as a child. I immediately “recognized” the composing Sherman brothers (played by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak), and other performers, including Bradley Whitford as a Disney creator and Collin Farrell in the flashbacks as the future writer’s father.

So why has it taken me so long to write about this film? Was it about Meryl Streep lashing out at the memory of the real Walt Disney over his purported sexism, at an event honoring Thompson? Nah, that’s not it.

Was it that Tom Hanks was snubbed for an Oscar? Did not see Saving Captain Phillips (yet), but there were stronger folks in the supporting actor category, where his portrayal of Walt Disney would have been placed.

It’s that, from everything I’ve read, the movie is just too far from the truth for my taste. I expect biopics to combine characters, mess with timelines, and the like. This, though, is what my friend Steve Bissette called “the usual corporate product revamps of reality”, though “far less terrible than projected by many.” Bissette, citing the 1999 book MARY POPPINS, SHE WROTE: THE LIFE OF P.L. TRAVERS by Valerie Lawson:

It was Julie Andrew and her husband Tony Dalton Disney personally toured Disneyland with [not Travers], Disney made no trip to London to seal the deal (contracts were signed before Travers went to L.A. to work with the team, and were revised/renegotiated on fine points afterwards), Julie Andrews kept Travers personally up-to-date on the changes being made and fidelity to her character/books, there were no words between Disney and Travers at the L.A. premiere, the whole relationship with the limo driver is pure confection—and as a Gurdjieff devotee, Travers would have reviled the Freudian conceit of the movie.

Although, he adds:

Much of the film IS reflective of what went down, with far more attention to the actual history than most Hollywood films ever, ever give to their own… It’s clear from Lawson’s bio that Travers profited mightily and knew going in and through the process what was going to be done and was done, and did her utmost to ensure some control. The contract Disney extended and honored was extraordinary in its day and today is even moreso.

But knowing SO much is made up – the driver is the one character who humanized her – made it more disappointing, in retrospect.

Still, it LOOKED right. I bought that this was Disneyland, that these were Walt’s employees who he insisted call him by his first name.

Bottom line: you may very well enjoy Saving Mr. Banks. Indeed, I rather did, in spite of my reservations, though the aforementioned Freudian stuff was a little weird. Just don’t believe everything you see.

Living on Anbesol and Advil

The music group called Big Daddy (loved by many, including me) is staging a Kickstarter campaign to raise $35,000 to produce their new album.

As mentioned, I had a root canal a couple of weeks ago, and the pain was far less than the last one I had some 15 years ago. But then I had to have some work done on another tooth, and the mouth discomfort after that one was mighty steady; not a sharp pain, but a constant ache, for which I was surviving on certain medicines.

And it was not great timing. Last weekend, the daughter didn’t have soccer, but the Wife and I did have a wedding to go to, a co-worker of hers who I didn’t know to a guy I knew just as well. The service was at 2 pm in Niskayuna, in neighboring Schenectady County, and it was lovely. The reception wasn’t until 5 pm, in Altamont, in Albany County, a 30-minute drive, so we did what we needed to do; we went grocery shopping. Talk about being overdressed for an activity.

The reception was at a place called the Appel Inn; our friends Marc and Janna had their reception there in November of 1999. We sat with one of the bride’s and my wife’s teaching colleagues, and her husband, neither of which I knew, but they were a delightful couple. But somewhere during this, the throbbing returned and having no over-the-counter solutions, I tried Southern Comfort and 7-Up; singularly unhelpful.

After church on Sunday, we drove to Schenectady to meet my sister Leslie’s bus. She had flown from San Diego, CA to Charlotte, NC back in late September to go to a conference, and visit our sister and niece; then flew to New York City, and visited relatives and a friend; then took a bus to Binghamton, NY to do genealogical research and to attend her high school reunion; and finally to Schenectady.

We are at some downtown restaurant called Bombers, and I saw that the New York Giants football team (my team) was already down 14-0, after only five minutes in the game; sigh. They ended up winning 41-27. But I didn’t see it.

We went to see the 2 pm stage performance of Mary Poppins at the Proctors Theatre, and it was quite good. Perhaps a little long, with too much of the exposition done to the tune of “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” but there were so many WOW moments – the transformation of the park, Bert walking on the ceiling – that we were all impressed. By the time we got back to Albany, though, I was exhausted from pain and went to bed before anyone.

The Sister returned to San Diego on Tuesday, the pain has subsided somewhat, and we’re back to a busy schedule, mostly driven by the Daughter’s activities. Especially on the weekend.
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Jaquandor saw Mary Poppins in Buffalo two years ago.

Says Mark Evanier (and I fully agree): The music group called Big Daddy (loved by many, including me) is staging a Kickstarter campaign to raise $35,000 to produce their new album. I would like to see them do this and have already backed…but it doesn’t look good. With only two days to go, they are a little over halfway there.

MOVIE REVIEW: Mary Poppins

The highlight for me was the dancing of the chimney sweeps to Step In Time; incredible!

 

The day after Christmas, the Palace Theatre, a once-and-again-classic Albany movie theater from the 1930s with a fascinating past, was showing the 1964 movie Mary Poppins at 3 p.m., preceded by activities for children. We pretty much missed the activities, such as posing with a young woman dressed as Ms. Poppins, because I was still moving slowly from whatever bug was paining me.

My wife decided that we should go up to the balcony, which I thought was an intriguing idea; it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a film from there. At some point, Ms. Poppins took the stage and announced the winners of a couple of drawings. Then there was a 10-minute drive-in movie theater intermission countdown that looked EXACTLY like this, only the full 600 minutes long. Then we got a short, Pecos Pest, a Tom and Jerry cartoon about the mouse’s guitar-playing Uncle Pecos terrorizing the feline.

Then our feature began. This was DEFINITELY a film, as opposed to some digital version. For one thing, there were three or four pops/skips, a couple of which unfortunately appeared during songs early on. For another, the second reel was much more orange-tinted than the prior or subsequent part of the film. Rather than annoyed, I found it oddly charming.

Speaking of odd, this was the first I had actually seen the movie. Oh, I’d viewed various segments over time. And I had read book adaptations to the Daughter. But I was unaware of the subplot involving women’s suffrage that Mrs. Banks (Glynis Johns, who I remember from a short-lived CBS fall 1963 sitcom called Glynis) was involved with. The guy with the cannon on a neighboring roof? New to me. But I must have seen the end of the film on TV, for I clearly recall the anagrammed name of the old banker changing to the actor who actually played him.

Julie Andrews was wonderful in this, of course, though Mary Poppins is sterner than I would have suspected. The songs by the Sherman brothers were infectious, especially, for the Daughter, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The first song A British Bank, though, reminded me greatly of the With a Little Bit of Luck from My Fair Lady by Lerner and Loewe from about a decade earlier.

But the highlight for me was the dancing of the chimney sweeps to Step In Time; incredible! Indeed, my admiration for Dick van Dyke, already quite high, increased greatly.

One last bit: the tickets cost $5 each for The Wife and me, $3 for the Daughter, purchased at the box office. But, had we bought them online, it would have cost $23 more!

A good time.