On Movie: New DVDs of ‘Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ and ‘Mary Poppins’

December 21st, 2013

Warner Bros. Amusement Inc.

Danny Kaye, seated proper, in the 1947 version of “The Mystery Daily life of Walter Mitty,” directed by Norman Z. McLeod, now out on a new DVD. Ben Stiller’s remake of “Mitty” arrives on Xmas.

Oscar year progressively begets films about videos, or movies that remind us of other motion pictures, and this year’s batch is no exception. The launch of “Saving Mr. Banks,” telling the story of the author P. L. Travers’s tangles with Walt Disney, has led Disney (the business, not Uncle Walt himself) to rerelease “Mary Poppins” in a joint DVD/Blu-ray edition, forward of the film’s 50th anniversary following yr. And Ben Stiller’s forthcoming remake of “The Mystery Life of Walter Mitty” has impressed a handsome new DVD from Warner Property Video of the “Mitty” from 1947 starring Danny Kaye.

“Mary Poppins” is, at coronary heart, about an unhappy family finding out to get comfort in its personal strengths. “The Magic formula Lifestyle of Walter Mitty,” directed by Norman Z. McLeod, and based mostly on the James Thurber tale, is about an unsatisfied younger male studying to escape his household to uncover his personal energy. The movie is total of peculiar loved ones dynamics: mothers who share rooms with their grownup daughters, moms who kiss their grownup sons on the mouth, nieces who fall short to acknowledge their uncles. Stiller’s “Walter Mitty” is considerably less very likely to supply really so significantly grist for the Freudian mill.

Danny Kaye is a passive, daydreaming proofreader who whiles absent his time imagining himself a swashbuckling sea captain, heroic surgeon or a riverboat gambler with ice in his veins. Walter creatively reuses the mundane implements of his uninteresting lifestyle: the sock stretchers and flooring wax his mother requests from the keep provide as impromptu surgical implements for one heroic interlude.

Fantasy unexpectedly bleeds into actuality when the lovely blonde cast in all his reveries (Virginia Mayo) appears on his early morning commuter practice, fleeing a passel of secret males. So steely in all his daydreams, Walter responds to danger in real lifestyle with a joggling knee, trembling teacup and a wavering voice. He yelps when the toast pops out of the toaster.

McLeod, greatest remembered for his thirties operate with the Marx Brothers (“Horse Feathers”) and W. C. Fields (“It’s a Gift”), performs down what should be the film’s centerpieces: Walter’s fantasy sequences, with lovely artwork course by Perry Ferguson and George Jenkins, but only haphazardly connected to the plot. The North African officers’ club set seems to have been rolled over from a Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger fantasy movie, and the bare-bones Western town could have served as the inspiration for Lars von Trier’s “Dogville.” At one position, the film pauses for Kaye to perform an admittedly humorous audio-professor regimen that appears to belong to one more movie entirely.

McLeod ably employs Kaye, whose shambling decency and sense of pride enable him to triumph belatedly above the bullies and prigs who dominate his existence. This “Walter Mitty” is chock-complete of skipped options to integrate fantasy with truth, but Kaye is profitable ample as the place-upon Walter to conquer McLeod’s inattention.

“Wonderful tiny episodes, but no tale line,” Richard M. Sherman determined after currently being requested to read Travers’s Mary Poppins publications. Sherman and his brother, Robert B., experienced been hired by Walt Disney to write tunes for a proposed Mary Poppins musical — one whose extremely existence was disapproved of by Travers herself.

The music in “Mary Poppins” are now so vintage that it is only too easy to overlook that an individual truly sat down and wrote them. It is thus a handle to hear (on the DVD extras) Sherman chat to Jason Schwartzman, who plays him in “Saving Mr. Banking companies,” describing his struggles with the melody of “Chim Chim Cher-ee”: “It does not have that British songs-hall sound. It sounded like a Russian song.”

A digital restoration means that each cobblestone and sooty chimney looks freshly scrubbed. Colors pop off the display screen: Dick Van Dyke’s orange-and-crimson-striped coat and matching straw hat have in no way seemed very so resplendent. And the drawings in this reside-action/animation hybrid, about two many years ahead of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” have been given a spit and a polish, as well, if also exposing some of the director Robert Stevenson’s trickery, then condition of the artwork.

There is without a doubt, on nearer inspection, quite tiny story line to “Mary Poppins,” which functions as a series of diversions, comic interludes and loosely related musical quantities. The little episodes of “Walter Mitty” are in fact superb, but it would have been wonderful to have a little story line, way too. By distinction, “Mary Poppins” brilliantly can make do with bits of business: the everyday increase of the six p.m. cannon, with a maid catching a vase with her toe Mary’s bottomless carpetbag, comprehensive with mirror and hat stand and all the penguin waiters and talking puppies and laughing uncles that substitute for a coherent narrative.

Above all, there are Mr. Van Dyke and Julie Andrews. Mr. Van Dyke’s Cockney accent may slip from time to time, but he never had a better movie position than the effervescent Bert. He yanks on his pant legs and tugs down his sleeves to do an arm-flapping waddle dance with a staff of cartoon penguins. And Ms. Andrews is all frivolously filigreed hauteur and irresistible excellent cheer as Mary, who delivers peace to the disordered Financial institutions household with a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.

Mary’s fees are the supposedly wild Jane and Michael, but it is very clear that the true reclamation undertaking is the stuffy banker George Financial institutions (David Tomlinson). Bert measures in slyly to satirize capitalist fervor, and nudge Mr. Financial institutions away from the counting of tuppence: “You’ve received to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone, even though childhood slips like sand through a sieve.”

Like any film well worth its bodyweight in magic dust, “Mary Poppins” intentionally gestures at inquiries that stay unanswered, and thoughts that continue to be mostly buried. Mary will save the Banks loved ones with her wizardry, and then is overlooked, flying off alone on the wings of her trusty umbrella, leaving them to their newfound harmony, and us with a lump in our throats.

COMING Before long

STELLA DALLAS A traditional of the now-dormant women’s-photo genre from 1937, with Barbara Stanwyck as a mom willing to sacrifice almost everything for her daughter, directed by King Vidor. This DVD also contains a classic featurette on the film. (Warner Video clip)

ELYSIUM Neill Blomkamp’s comply with-up to “District 9” stars Matt Damon as a factory worker uncovered to a fatal dose of radiation who need to flee the earth to help save his lifestyle. “Mr. Blomkamp turns out to be significantly better at blowing things up than putting the shattered items collectively,” Manohla Dargis wrote in The New York Occasions in August. (Sony Photos Home Enjoyment)

PRISONERS Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis star in this tense drama about two sets of dad and mom in search of their lacking daughters. “ ‘Prisoners’ is the sort of movie that can silent a area full of casual thrill seekers,” A. O. Scott wrote in The Instances in September. (Warner Bros.)

THE Sound OF Tunes Stay! NBC’s hit adaptation of the evergreen basic, starring Carrie Underwood as Maria and Stephen Moyer as Captain von Trapp. “It was a dwell performance of a famous musical that felt muted and a minor unfortunate,” Alessandra Stanley wrote in The Times this month. (Common)

AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS David Lowery’s moody, Malick-esque criminal offense drama about two fans on the operate from the authorities in Texas. “Everything happens in a hazy ambiance of humorless homage and beautiful great style,” Mr. Scott wrote in The Moments in August. (IFC)

This write-up has been revised to replicate the subsequent correction:

Correction: December twenty, 2013

An previously edition of a picture caption with this report misidentified Danny Kaye’s situation in a image from “The Magic formula Existence of Walter Mitty.” He is seated at appropriate.

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