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Movies you missed: 1964's 'Mary Poppins'


It's time for Movies You Missed.


HUMPHREY BOGART: (As Rick Blaine) Here's looking at you, kid.


CLARK GABLE: (As Rhett Butler) Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.


MARLON BRANDO: (As Terry Malloy) I could have been a contender.


BETTE DAVIS: (As Margo Channing) Fasten your seatbelts.


TOM CRUISE: (As Jerry Maguire) Show me the money.


ROBERT DE NIRO: (As Travis Bickle) You talking to me?


ESTELLE REINER: (As Older Woman Customer) I'll have what she's having.


OPRAH WINFREY: (As Sofia) I ain't never thought I'd have to fight in my own house.


BRANDO: (As Stanley Kowalski) Stella.

SIMON: That's a montage I've missed. Time for another installment of that series where we ask listeners, colleagues, family and friends to watch a classic movie they've somehow managed to miss. Today - a Disney classic, a common cultural reference, but not for Janelle Nelson in St. Paul, Minn.


JULIE ANDREWS: (As Mary Poppins, singing) It's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious, if you say it loud enough, you'll always sound precocious. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

SIMON: (Singing) Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Who doesn't know that? Well, maybe Janelle Nelson. She'd never seen "Mary Poppins," the 1964 film starring Dame Julie Andrews, the great Dick Van Dyke, of course, based on books by P.L. Travers and tells the story of a magical nanny who floats down from the sky to help a posh British family. But Janelle Nelson watched "Mary Poppins" for us this week and joins us from St. Paul. Thanks so much for being with us.

JANELLE NELSON: It's wonderful to be here. Thank you.

SIMON: How did you manage to avoid seeing "Mary Poppins" all these years?

NELSON: I was 3 when it came out - right? - so my parents probably didn't take me, never watched it on TV. Then when I went to college and I had "sophistication," quote-unquote, last thing I was going to do was spend 2 1/2 hours watching "Mary Poppins." You know, it's a little saccharine. It's for 3 and 5-year-olds and never hit my movie queue.

SIMON: Wow. You watched the movie this week?


SIMON: Do you now think it's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

NELSON: Yeah. You know, it's - I liked it.

SIMON: Well, what did you think of it? How do you see the film?

NELSON: Well, I really saw it as a call to holding on to simple pleasures, kind of a call back to your childhood. Some of the scenes were just really enchanting and moved me almost to a tear. And I loved the story of the parents and especially the dad really connecting with the children again.

SIMON: Julie Andrews's performance, I believe she won the Oscar for.

NELSON: Oh, deservedly so - magical performance, the emotion that she brought to the lullabies that she sang, especially "Feed The Birds."

SIMON: (Singing) Feed the birds.


ANDREWS: (As Mary Poppins, singing) Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.

SCOTT SIMON AND JANELLE NELSON: (Singing) Tuppence a bag.

NELSON: (Singing) Tuppence.


ANDREWS: (As Mary Poppins, singing) Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence.

NELSON: You know, and I've heard the music for years, but there was no context. So to see that beautiful animation, the picture of the beggar woman offering the birdseed for sale - it was just - you know, it just kind of moved me.

SIMON: Yeah. I have to ask you about the performance of Dick Van Dyke, which I love. But many British actors say in the most affectionate way that this is the worst British accent by an American in film history.


DICK VAN DYKE: (As Bert) Don't move a muscle. Stay right where you are. I'd know that silhouette anywhere. Mary Poppins.

NELSON: Oh, my God. The accent was so off-putting.

SIMON: (Laughter).

NELSON: It took me a while to kind of get used to it. But he, too - I thought he was wonderful, you know, as Bert. And, you know, the other thing that I liked about the film was it really was about the bridge between the classes - you know, the very formal, very stuffy, money-oriented, and then the beggar woman, the chimney sweep. It's those individuals that got the children and the - especially the father...

SIMON: Yeah.

NELSON: ...In touch with small pleasures...

SIMON: Yeah.

NELSON: ...In life.

SIMON: Laughter has an important role in this film, doesn't it? You particularly like, I think, a scene where we learn about the elevating powers of it.

NELSON: Oh, absolutely. And Ed Wynn is a classic film actor. And I was, like, surprised to see him. Like, oh my gosh, he's in this film?

SIMON: Ed Wynn plays the chuckling, eccentric Uncle Albert, who laughs and floats around the ceiling.


ED WYNN: (As Uncle Albert, singing) I love to laugh (laughing), loud and long and clear.

NELSON: It draws you in - you know, tea party on the ceiling - and it makes you laugh. It really is about the power of the more things you're around, the more you become like them. And it was the laughter, but the joke-telling - right? - and how many kids don't tell their dad a joke? That was a point that connected finally with the father and the son. And I really love that about it.

SIMON: Yeah. Look, I'm glad we could bring this wonderful film into your life. It's nice to be able to get a chance to do that with someone.

NELSON: Same. I am too. I found out that it's actually a favorite film of a couple of friends of mine, and they were almost like, I don't know if I can be friends with you if you don't like this movie. So I'm glad that it touched me.

SIMON: Yeah.

NELSON: It's really wonderful.


DAVID TOMLINSON: (As Mr. Banks, singing) With tuppence for paper and strings, you can have your own set of wings. With your feet on the ground...

SIMON: Janelle Nelson, thanks so much for being with us on this edition of Movies You Missed. And I think you will understand when I say now go fly a kite.

NELSON: Thank you.


TOMLINSON: (As Mr. Banks, singing) Oh, let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height.

SIMON: I love this song. If you have a movie you've missed and you'd like to watch it and tell us about it, go to (ph).


TOMLINSON: (As Mr. Banks, singing) Up through the atmosphere, up where the air is clear. Oh, let's go fly a kite. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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