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Tag Archive: Mary Poppins


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The Renaissance of movie and TV tie-in action figures arrived in 2013 with Funko’s classic Kenner-style ReAction figure line.  Other companies focus on single licensed figures and getting the likenesses spot-on, but Funko’s diversification of lines meant everyone could find something that fit their personal niche at an affordable price point.  A true throwback series, one of the overlooked features of the line is the incredible variety of no-names-taken, classic kick-ass heroines represented.

In fact you can find here the top of the world’s best, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners, genre heroines.  Buy them for yourself, for your friends, or get your favorite as a totem to inspire you each day from your desktop.  And where the early sculpts in Funko’s line admittedly looked nothing like the actresses that made the roles famous, the new lines have only improved.  And nobody has better packaging designs than the ReAction line.

Zoe Washburne scene

Who would you add to the Funko roster of heroines?  Compare your list to our more than 85 suggestions for future kick-ass women action figures below.

First, check out this Baker’s Dozen of our favorites in the current Funko pantheon:

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By Elizabeth C. Bunce

If there’s one thing these lists demonstrate, it’s that great fantasy stories are enduring.  All four of us have named several films that reach deep into the literary and oral tradition of myths, legends, traditional bedtime stories, and classics of fantasy literature.  It’s not surprising that what makes a great fantasy movie is the same stuff that makes a great story, period: amazing worlds, epic quests, doomed romance, and soaring imagination.  More than half the movies on my list are direct retellings of well-known tales, and all of them are adapted in one way or another from earlier source material–be that a novel from the 1990s or a play by William Shakespeare, or anything in between.

It’s neither accidental nor surprising that my personal favorites list went this way, but there are plenty of contenders that just narrowly missed the cut and are worthy of mention, at least in passing.  I’ve been thoroughly impressed by recent films Stardust (adapted from the Neil Gaiman novel) and Prince Caspian (from CS Lewis’s beloved Chronicles of Narnia), but I haven’t seen either film often enough to declare it a favorite… yet.  Likewise, two classics from my childhood deserve a nod, and would have made the cut if this were a Favorite 15: the glorious Jim Henson/Brian Froud collaboration The Dark Crystal; and Willow, which is just as good as any other high fantasy film made in the last century.  Lastly, because I feel someone should mention it, yet it somehow gets overlooked whenever we start talking about great fantasy films, is one of the few mermaid movies ever made (surprisingly enough), 1984’s fantastic classic Splash.  It gets overshadowed by Hanks’s Big from a few years later, but it really is a wonderful movie that deserves to be better remembered for its contribution to the genre.

But. You’re looking for the ones that did make the cut, so here is my winnowed-down list of my ten alltime favorite fantasy films:

1.  The Princess Bride
Art has suggested that we define great fantasy by the age at which we’re introduced to our favorites, and I tend to agree.  This Rob Reiner masterpiece came out when I was thirteen, which is the ideal time to experience this wickedly smart, hilarious, and romantic fantasy romp.  But viewers can enjoy it at any age!  There are no roles in film history to rival Carey Elwes as Westley/The Dread Pirate Roberts or Mandy Patinkin’s iconic Inigo Montoya, but Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, Billy Crystal, Andre the Giant, Wallace Shawn, Peter Falk, and all the others turn in perfect performances, too. T he memorable scenes and imminently-quotable catchphrases ensure this film’s status as a fantasy legend.

2.  Ever After
When you’re a fairy tale fan, the golden goose (so to speak) is, of course, Cinderella.  No other tale so captures our love of the genre and our hope for true love to lift us from the drudgery of our daily lives.  Everyone knows this story, and making it fresh and new and wonderful is hard!  But Ever After was up to the challenge, and more.  Set in the intensely naturalistic setting of early Renaissance France, this adaptation builds on the basic rags-to-riches framework to deliver a complex and deeply satisfying tale of smart lovers who complement one another, yet are set apart by a nearly unconquerable divide.  Also, it doesn’t hurt that Dougray Scott makes for a Prince Charming any woman would swoon over.

3.  A Knight’s Tale
Carrying on with the argument that retellings fit in the fantasy genre, magic or not, I’m sneaking one of my very favorite movies–period–onto this list.  Turned off by the truly dreadful previews, I nearly missed this one–and I’m so glad I didn’t.  From the ensemble cast (Heath Ledger!  Rufus Sewell!  Paul Bettany!  That guy from Firefly!) to the wacky rock soundtrack, Chaucer has never been so much fun (and he was no wet blanket to begin with).

4.  Mary Poppins
No film explores the power of childhood make-believe adventures better than this Disney classic.  Who didn’t want their toys to put themselves away?  Or spend an afternoon popping in and out of chalk drawings, riding magical carousel horses and winning the derby?  Or laugh themselves into flight?  A spoonful of sugar and the confident wink of a magical nanny makes it all possible.

5.  Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
Tales of King Arthur and the Holy Grail have been centerpieces of Western fantasy as long as we’ve been telling stories.  The third, and arguably the best, installment of the Indiana Jones franchise brings that classic quest to the screen better than any film, ever.  (I’m talking to YOU, da Vinci Code.  You too, Excalibur. *shudders*)  (The second-best film adaptation of the King Arthur legend is, of course, the 1960s classic Camelot with Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave.)

6.  Portrait of Jennie
For pure romance and starcrossed lovers, you can’t ask for more than William Dieterle’s sweet Depression-era tale of a starving artist and the doomed model who shapes his career, and his life.  It has all the makings of a gothic mystery–but the tender performances of Joseph Cotton and Jennifer Jones make this instead a sweeping story of the power of love to reach beyond time and death.  Fans of Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve’s Somewhere in Time should look this one up.  (And fans of Portrait of Jennie should look up the marvelous children’s novel Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillippa Pearce.)

7.  Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban
The best installment of one of the most beloved fantasy series of our age.  Need I say more?

8.  Beauty and the Beast
No one was surprised when this Disney adaptation of Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve’s classic French fairy tale became the first-ever animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture (and thus changed the awards structure forever).  The lavish production, with its marvelous soundtrack, brought this tale as old as time to life with all the wonder and beauty we expect in our fairy tale films.

9.  Arabian Nights
I have expressed my love for these stories on borg.com before, and this made-for-TV miniseries starring Mili Avatal absolutely swept me away.  The production is gorgeous and epic, with a bold and brilliant cast that includes fine performances by Jason Scott Lee, John Leguizamo, Rufus Sewell (!), and Andy Serkis.  It offers up all our Arabian Nights favorites: Ali Baba, Aladdin, and, of course, Scheherazade and her deeply disturbed husband, played with heartbreaking madness by Dougray Scott (who, really, we could stand to see A LOT more of.  Just sayin’.).

10.  Much Ado About Nothing
This is last on my list not because it’s my least favorite of the ten; far from it–it’s actually my alltime favorite movie!  But of the ten, it’s the one that feels the least like fantasy to me, although it has neither more nor less magic than The Princess Bride, Ever After, or A Knight’s Tale.  Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh at the height of his early career, this utterly perfect adaptation of Shakespeare’s lusty romantic comedy is set against the breathtakingly beautiful Tuscan countryside and features fantastic performances by Emma Thompson, Brian Blessed, Kate Beckinsale, Robert Sean Leonard, Michael Keaton, and Denzel Washington.  I want to step inside this movie and live there, every time I watch Much Ado–and if that’s not the very definition of fantasy, than I don’t know what is.

Imagine all the songs that spin around your head all day.  Do you sing as you drive to work?  Go for a walk?  Think of the catchiest lyrics that have stuck with you since you were a kid.  Do you remember these clever phrases?

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears, it’s a world of hopes and a world of fears. There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware it’s a small world after all.

Anyone who has waited for an hour at Disney World to ride the “It’s a Small World” ride has those lyrics forever etched in their brain.  What about this:

The wonderful thing about Tiggers is Tiggers are wonderful things.  Their tops are made out of rubber.  Their bottoms are made out of springs. They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!  But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is I’m the only one.

These lyrics are perfect for getting something done quickly, by trying to sing these lyrics as fast as you can, like Tigger did (you know, the tiger-y fellow from Winnie the Pooh).

And sometimes these songs stumbling through your day give you good advice.  Such as:

A spoonful of sugar goes a long, long way.  ‘ave yourself a ‘ealthy ‘elpin’ ev’ry day.

Any idea where I am going with this?  Some more lyrics may help.  Here are some words to get you moving in your day:

A robin feathering his nest has very little time to rest while gathering his bits of twine and twig. Though quite intent in his pursuit, he has a merry tune to toot.  He knows a song will move the job along.

Hey, that’s from a movie, right?  Can’t. Quite. Place. It.  Some more lyrics from that movie:

Up where the smoke is all billered and curled ‘tween pavement and stars is the chimney sweep world.  When the’s ‘ardly no day nor ‘ardly no night, there’s things ‘alf in shadow and ‘alf way in light.  On the roof tops of London… Coo, what a sight!

and

Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey, chim chim cher-ee!  A sweep is as lucky, as lucky can be.  Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey chim chim cher-oo!  Good luck will rub off when I shakes ‘ands with you.  

And then it all comes together with a word that’s not really a word and yet we all know it really should be a word:

Because I was afraid to speak when I was just a lad, my father gave me nose a tweak and told me I was bad.  But then one day I learned a word that saved me aching nose, the biggest word I ever heard and this is how it goes…

C’mon, you know it, right?  It’s Mary Poppins, of course.  And the word:

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

But these aren’t the only songs repeating through your head as you vacuum and mow the lawn.  How about:

Hup 2, 3, 4, keep it up 2, 3, 4. Company sound off! Oh, the aim of our patrol is a question rather droll.  For to march and drill over field and hill is a military goal! [insert elephant trumpeting here]

Maybe you need the music for that one. Think of elephants marching through the forest, a bear named Baloo and a kid named Mowgli and monkeys.  Including:

You hoo hoo. I wanna be like you hoo hoo.  I wanna walk like you.  Talk like you.  Too hoo hoo.

Sure, some songs require context, like maybe:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we love you. And, in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Chitty Chitty Bang Bang what we’ll do. Near, far, in our motor car, oh, what a happy time we’ll spend. Bang Bang Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, our fine four fendered friend. 

The original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from the movie of the same name based on James Bond creator Ian Fleming's book, was at auction last year at Profiles in History.

Imagine these songs rummaging around in your gray matter and then you find out all of those songs have something in common–they all came from the same place.  The songs were all written by Robert and Richard Sherman.  One-half of the songwriting team, Robert, passed away last week at the age of 86.

All in, the duo wrote songs for all these movies: Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Absent-Minded Professor, Parent Trap, In Search of the Castaways, The Sword in the Stone, That Darn Cat!, Winnie the Pooh, The AristoCats, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Snoopy Come Home, Charlotte’s Web, Tom Sawyer, American Graffiti (“You’re Sixteen”), Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and The Magic of Lassie, and more songs for other venues like TV shows and amusement parks.

The sheer volume of their musical catalog and the fact that most of it is catchy and easy to hum…  Seems like a pretty impressive life’s work!  I grew up with a compilation LP of their songs as well as the soundtrack to The Jungle Book.  All of their music is readily available on CD, download, etc.  Nearly all of their famous songs are available on one disc, The Sherman Brothers Songbook and snippets of each song can be heard and full versions downloaded at Amazon.com here.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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