Big-screen musicals have always had a way of holding the entire family spellbound with their catchy songs and wonderful story-lines.
Go ahead, dim the lights, settle the kids down with some crunchy popcorn, and treat them to these ageless family classics.
Mary Poppins (1964): In response to an advertisement by the Banks children, super-nanny Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) comes floating down from the sky. Bringing with her a magic umbrella and a bottomless carpetbag, she is every child’s dream nanny – firm, yet kind and gentle. She amazes the children with her magic adventures which include entering the world of chalk pavement drawings, getting sucked up the chimney and floating over the rooftops of London, and making the children’s nursery tidy itself up with just a snap of her fingers! Mary’s friend Bert (Dick Van Dyke) joins them on their fun exploits. This film received 13 Academy Award nominations and won Julie Andrews her award for Best Actress, apart from winning Best Film Editing, Original Music Score, Best Song, and Best Visual Effects. The music score is delightful and includes ‘A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’, ‘Chim chim cher-ee’, and the nonsense word ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’. This film is every child’s fantasy complete with captivating special effects, foot-tapping music, endearing characters, and an engrossing storyline.
The Sound Of Music (1965): Following her failure to become a nun, Maria (Julie Andrews) is sent by the convent to the home of Captain Georg Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) to become governess to his 7 motherless children who are terribly mischievous. Resentful of their strict father and the earlier governesses, the children are initially very hostile toward Maria. However, her kindness and joie de vivre gradually win them over as she teaches them to sing, takes them on picnics and bicycle rides, and fills the Captain’s somber home with fun and laughter. Eventually, even the hard-hearted Captain falls in love with Maria’s innate goodness and innocent charm. Set in picturesque Austria against the backdrop of World War II, this musical won 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture. The all-time favorite songs from this film include ‘Edelweiss’, ‘These are a few of my favorite things’, ‘Sixteen going on seventeen’, and ‘Do-Re-Mi’.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968): An eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke), humoring a request from his children, tries to put together some money to buy a rickety old motorcar. After failing to sell his ‘automatic hair cutting machine’, he sets about trying to sell his invention ‘toot sweets’ (which can be played like a flute) to the father of his friend Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes) who is a big-time confection manufacturer. He meets with no success. He finally manages to buy the car from tips earned in a song-and-dance act. Potts fondly calls the car ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ because of the noise made by the engine. The rest of the movie consists of a story narrated by Potts involving the car (which can float on water and sprout wings and a propeller and fly), a wicked baron, and an evil child catcher. This musical is memorable for its song-and-dance set pieces, particularly ‘Toot sweets’ a sweet factory sequence shot mouth-wateringly, ‘Me Ol’ Bamboo’ with Potts performing an English folk dance with a troupe, and ‘Doll on a music box’ with both Potts and Truly dressed up like life-sized dolls.