Mind-Blowing Hidden Relationships You Never Noticed In Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins’!

20 Aug

MaryPoppinsIntroCOVER

On August 27, the Disney classic Mary Poppins turns 50! It’s the story of a magical nanny, two precocious children, a stern father with the capacity for love just beneath the surface, a socially progressive mother, and the most charming chimney sweep/kite salesman/one-man-band in history.

You know you love him.

You know you love him.

The film won 5 Oscars out of an astounding 13 nominations, and was the only Best Picture nomination Walt Disney ever received. Mary Poppins is also one of the rare films to have a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Unlike these movies, which all have less than 100%

Unlike these movies, which all have less than 100%

Basically, it’s a great film and everyone loves it. However, despite all the times you’ve likely watched it, I have a theory that there were a number of hidden connections that you probably didn’t even realize!

Connections like:

1. Mary Poppins was Bert’s nanny!

2. Mr. Dawes Sr. – the Bank Owner – is Bert’s father

3. Uncle Albert is Bert’s Uncle

I know, shocking right?

I know, shocking right?

So, what evidence is there to support my insane claims?

 

The Evidence for the ‘Mary Poppins Was Bert’s Nanny’ Theory:

 

A: Bert’s Memory From Childhood

What is probably the most concrete verbal evidence in the whole film comes when Bert is singing the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious song.

Mary Poppins 4

“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 achin’ nose/The biggest word I ever heard/And this is how it goes, oh/ Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

This is why I hate scrabble. Cheating cats.

This is why I hate scrabble. Cheating cats.

Bert explicitly says that, when he was young, he was a scared child who was afraid to speak and had an over-bearing father. (Keep that part in mind for the ‘Mr. Dawes Sr. Is Bert’s Father’ theory). But he – as a child – learned that magic word.

It’s word that really only Mary Poppins knows or uses. It’s a nonsense word with seemingly magical properties. There is really no way he could have learned it as a kid unless she taught it to him!

Proof!

Proof!

Now, some people point out that a lot of the rest of the song sounds like a made-up story – “When Dukes and Maharajahs/ Pass the time of day with me/ I say me special word/ And then they ask me out to tea” – sure, your average poor English street urchin probably isn’t meeting Dukes and Maharajahs.

But your average poor English street urchin isn’t friends with a mystical demi-god who can take you to magical chalk drawing worlds. I mean, half way through the movie Bert is dancing with penguins and racing Merry-Go-Round horses. Why couldn’t Mary have taken him to a mystical land full of Dukes and Maharajahs also?!

Fine, I buy penguins. But Maharajahs? No f**king way.

Fine, I buy penguins. But Maharajahs? No f**king way.

 

 

B: Bert’s Various Jobs

During the course of the film, Bert is an adorable one-man band, he’s a talented sidewalk chalk artist (or a screever as he calls it), he’s a super-chipper chimney sweep, and he’s a freakin’ kite salesman!

BURT

The movie takes care to show how sucky all the jobs are. As a musician, everyone laughs but no one tips. As a chalk artist, his drawings are washed away by the rain, and the chimney sweep job sucks because obviously it sucks.

Yet no matter what, he manages to keep a smile on his face and a tune in his heart. It’s as if someone taught him how to find the joy in hard work. Perhaps with A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR?!? (Yes. The answer is yes.)

Pictured: The happiest damn chimney sweep you ever saw.

Pictured: The happiest damn chimney sweep you ever saw.

As Bert himself sings, “I does what I likes/ and I likes what I do.”

 

C: Bert’s Ominous Introduction

In the very beginning, Bert is entertaining a crowd of people and he stops – literally in the middle of his performance – to give a some sort of vague prediction.

“Wind’s in the East/ Mist coming in/ like something is brewing/ about to begin./Can’t put me finger/on what lies in store/ But I feel what’s to happen all happened before.”

It seems vague, but really he’s just being coy. It did all happen before, when Mary Poppins was HIS nanny!

Then, as quickly as his prophecy-aside began, it ends and he’s signing and dancing again for the ungrateful neighborhood jerks.

Jerks

 

D: Bert Doesn’t Question Mary’s Magic

Throughout the whole film, it’s blatantly obvious that he knows Mary from sometime in his past. His first words to her are, “I’d know that silhouette anywhere! Mary Poppins”

All the dangly, weird bits around the hat probably help with identification.

All the dangly, weird bits around the hat probably help with identification.

To which she says, “It’s nice to see you again Bert.” So, yeah, that’s not a huge revelation. But then they go into a FANTASY WORLD INSIDE A CHALK DRAWING! The kids are downright amazed, and Bert doesn’t bat an eye. This is all old hat to him, because he knows all of Mary’s magic tricks from when he was a child!

It doesn’t seem likely that they would have randomly met on the street and Mary just happened to show her reality-bending, universe-jumping supermagic to some arbitrary stranger.

And let’s not forget this exchange:

Jane Banks: Mary Poppins is taking us to the park!

Bert: To the park? Not if I know Mary Poppins. Other nannies take children to the park. When you’re with Mary Poppins, suddenly you’ll went places you’ve never dreamed of. And quick as you can say, ‘Bob’s your uncle,’ the most unusual things begin to happen.

You can’t deny that it sounds like he’s speaking for experience.

 

E: The Chalk World

A magical land of dancing animals and nothing but carnival clothing.

A magical land of dancing animals and nothing but carnival clothing.

When we first see Bert as a chalk artist, he says he’s drawn them all from memory. Then, Mary transports him and the kids into one of his drawings. When they have dinner with the dancing penguins, it’s clear that they know Bert and Mary, and even know things about their past (like the long list of woman associated with Bert, which we will get to in a moment.)

I wish all waiters were this polite. And well dressed. What happened to waiters wearing tuxes? Was that ever a thing. Maybe we can just train real-life penguins to be waiters.

I wish all waiters were this polite. And well dressed. What happened to waiters wearing tuxes? Was that ever a thing. Maybe we can just train real-life penguins to be waiters.

If they had been there before, and the drawing was Bert’s, it had to have been made by Bert in the past as well. Clearly, there is a long history of them traveling to fantasy worlds together. Something that she usually reserves for the children she helps raise.

Not to mention, before jumping into the chalk world, she scolds Bert – kind of super mean-like actually – much in the same way she would talk to a child. Because that’s how she remembers him from when they first knew each other!

 

F: The Long List Of Women

In the chalk world, Bert and Mary have lunch served by penguin waiters. In that song, Bert mentions a whole bunch of other girls’ names, and Mary gets visibly jealous.

The three stages of Mary Poppins getting pissed.

The three stages of Mary Poppins getting pissed.

 

Here’s the list of names and ways he described them: “Mavis and Sybil have ways that are winning. Prudence and Gwendolyn set your heart spinning, Phoebe (delightful) Maude is disarming, Janis, Felicia, Lydia (charming). Cynthia (dashing) Vivian’s sweet, Stephanie (smashing) Priscilla (a treat). Veronica, Millicent, Agnes, Jane, convivial company time and again. Doris, Phyllis, Glynis of sorts, I’ll agree are three jolly good sports. But, cream of the crop, tip of the top, it’s Mary Poppins and there we stop.”

"Oh, you said I was best, so I instantly forgive you Bert."

“Oh, you said I was best, so I instantly forgive you Bert.”

I propose that those aren’t names of other women Bert has been romantic with – as it seems – but are rather the names of 20 different nannies Bert had before Mary came along. While it sounds like WAY too many, remember how many nannies lined up when Mr. Banks put out that help wanted ad? Clearly, there are a lot of nannies in London.

So many that when a bunch of them are sent flying off to their deaths by a mystical wind, it doesn't even make the news.)

So many that when a bunch of them are sent flying off to their deaths by a mystical wind, it doesn’t even make the news.)

Also, Jane and Michael had 6 nannies in 4 months. So 20 isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Also, none of the adjectives are exactly romantic. Sure, Prudence and Gwendolyn “set your heart spinning”, but everything else is just vaguely pleasant. “Dashing” and “Delightful” but not “beautiful” or “Enchanting”.

Maybe the reason Mary is so jealous is more professional pride and competitiveness than anything else.

Like anyone could compete with Julie Andrews.

Like anyone could compete with Julie Andrews.

 

Final Note On The ‘Mary Was Bert’s Nanny’ Theory:

So how is it that Bert aged and Mary didn’t? Some people have had a problem with this part of the theory. Although, I can’t understand why. She’s a magical demi-god who can bend reality to her whim. She’s got a magic carpet bag like Felix the Cat, and her freaking reflection stays behind in the mirror and sings!

Most horror movies use this same shot for a totally different effect.

Most horror movies use this same shot for a totally different effect.

It feels like a person who can turn clouds of smoke into solid steps to travel around the rooftops of London and can fly with an umbrella might be able to make herself look perpetually young.

Also, this might also explain why Bert is so totally fine with her leaving at the end. He’s simply gotten used to her needing to leave when the wind changes that it doesn’t faze him anymore.

Peace out!

Peace out!

 

Evidence For The ‘Mr. Dawes Sr. – the Bank Owner – Is Bert’s Father’ Theory:

A: The Physical Similarity

This is Mr. Dawes:

MARY POPPINS 21

He is played by Dick Van Dyke. You know, the guy who played Bert. He’s the only actor in the movie to play two characters. Also, he looks just like an old Bert, because he’s Bert’s dad!

DawesBurt

 

B: The Music

Remember that lyric from Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? “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.” It sounds like his father was a real jerk! Know who else is a real jerk? Mr. Dawes, the character who just so happens to be played by the same actor.

There is also a lyric from the song Jolly Holiday that Mary sings which goes, “Though your just a diamond/ In the rough, Bert/ Underneath your blood is blue!” The term ‘blue blood’, as defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is “membership in a royal or socially important family.”

It's also a show with Magnum P.I. and Mark Wahlberg's brother Donnie (who, by the way, was super good in Boomtown. But that... that has nothing to do with this, I guess.)

It’s also a show with Magnum P.I. and Mark Wahlberg’s brother Donnie (who, by the way, was super good in Boomtown. But that… that has nothing to do with this, I guess.)

 

Bert is a blue blood. Mary knows this because she was his nanny. She helped raise him and she knows his father was Mr. Dawes.

 

C: Bert’s Cartoonish Cockney Accent

Gunvor

It’s a well-known criticism of Bert’s character that Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent was, well, kind of really bad. Or at least super over-the-top. But what if that’s because Bert is just pretending to have a cockney accent? Not Dick Van Dyke, mind you, but Bert the character is faking.

When Dick Van Dyke plays Dawes Sr., his proper English accent is fine. Totally acceptable. And Dick Van Dyke is a good actor. He could have delivered a fine cockney accent.

The guy won a SAG Lifetime Achievement award, four Emmys and a damn Grammy!

The guy won a SAG Lifetime Achievement award, four Emmys and a damn Grammy!

Here’s the catch! Bert was born and raised with a proper English accent. When he rebelled from his over-bearing father and didn’t decide to go into banking, he wanted to distance himself from his “blue blood” roots and so he adopted his fake cockney accent which he isn’t great at because it’s foreign to him.

Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent wasn’t bad, Bert’s was.

Also the look on my face when I realized this.

Also the look on my face when I realized this.

 

D: When Mr. Dawes Sr. Laughs

As we know, only people associated in some way with Mary Poppins float when they laugh. Clearly not everyone Mary interacts with floats, but everyone who floats has interacted with Mary. Not sure if you know this, but people don’t naturally float when they laugh. Half of England would just be hovering above the city or levitating off into space!

Artist's rendering.

Artist’s rendering

Before Mr. Dawes finally dies from laughing, he starts to float! In the boardroom! This is proof, within the context of the movie, that Mary Poppins has been in contact with him during his life.

MARY POPPINS 28

Also, when Mr. Banks is being fired, he mentions Poppins’ name, and there is, what looks like, a momentary flash of recognition on Dawes’ face.

 

Final Note On The ‘Mary Was Bert’s Nanny’ Theory:

I think Dawes had Bert when he was already rather old (say 40 or 50, not unheard of). He already had one son (Dawes Jr.) who followed in his footsteps. But Bert wouldn’t talk. He was shy and reserved. Not the cutthroat personality type needed in the banking world.

Not exactly Bert-like.

Not exactly Bert-like.

Dawes hires Mary to be Bert’s nanny, and Mary tries to work her “saving Mr. Banks” magic on Dawes by teaching him the meaning of family, ect. But it doesn’t work! Dawes is already too old and stuck in his ways.

It's hard to teach life lessons to the kind of guy who literally steals money out of the hands of terrified children.

It’s hard to teach life lessons to the kind of guy who literally steals money out of the hands of terrified children.

However, it does work on someone else who, perhaps, lives with the Dawes family… and that brings me to the last connection in the film!

 

Evidence For The ‘Uncle Albert Is Bert’s Uncle’

MARY POPPINS 32

A: The Name

I propose that Uncle Albert is Mr. Dawes’ brother. They were good friends who worked in finance together, but Albert was a few years younger. When Dawes had his second son, he named his in honor of his brother Albert. Or Bert, for short.

See? It's right there at the end? Probably didn't need a pic for this one...

See? It’s right there at the end? Probably didn’t need a pic for this one…

This is also why Mary Poppins knows him as Uncle Albert! He’s not her uncle. If he was, why would Bert just be at the house waiting for her when Mary gets called over by the dog (that she can talk to, apparently)?

When she comes over, he says, “Oh bless me! Bless my soul. It’s Mary Poppins!” Not a very familiar greeting for someone who is his niece.

She calls him Uncle Albert because that’s what she’s used to calling him when she saw him often during her time as Bert’s nanny.

 

B: The Floating

As we’ve established, only people who have come into contact with Mary Poppins float when they laugh. This has clearly been a recurring problem for Uncle Albert. Bert says, “Last time it took us three days to get him down.”

1 day of floating and laughing, 2 days of floating, laughing, and throwing up.

1 day of floating and laughing, 2 days of floating, laughing, and throwing up.

 

Final Note On The ‘Uncle Albert Is Bert’s Uncle’ Theory:

It’s possible that Mary’s ‘saving Mr. Banks’ magic worked on Uncle Albert instead of Mr. Dawes. Uncle Albert, who was a younger, voracious banking world shark, realized the joy in the world and quit the bank. This explains why his house is so nicely furnished, as he still had money saved. He was still a rich guy when he decided that there was more to life than cash.

 

FINAL NOTES:

I know this has been incredibly long, but I think the final thing about all the connections is that it brings a new depth and a new motif to the film. I think Mary Poppins feels a tremendous amount of guilt for not being able to help Mr. Dawes be a better person, and for not saving Bert from a destructive home life.

This is why she frequently pops back into his life: To see how he’s getting along. I think she may, at some point, have developed romantic feelings for him, but that’s not the true motivation for their friendship.

It’s a brilliant movie that’s been entertaining kids and adults for five decades, and if my theories are able to provide some sort of deeper insight or even just fun, random speculation, it’s all in the name of celebrating and honoring this truly brilliant film!

 

mary_poppins_clapping

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10 Responses to “Mind-Blowing Hidden Relationships You Never Noticed In Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins’!”

  1. Ryan August 22, 2014 at 3:20 am #

    That’s tip top!

    • julia May 20, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

      I think it is pretty obvious Bert and Mary Poppins have, or have had, some kind of relationship. The love between them is tangible. Your narrative would make a cute story.

  2. Sadie August 23, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    I analyze movies too much so I already figured that out but great job at getting the evidence. Very impressive 🙂

  3. Michelle lambkin March 2, 2015 at 5:06 am #

    Wow! I’ve always loved the movie. I Just bought the sound track for my baby daughter. I absolutely love the idea that she was Bert ‘ s nanny. And that she’s still looking out for him cos she couldn’t melt his dad’s heart. The movie has an even bigger place in my heart now. Thanks Zach!

  4. Rachel May 1, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    Dick van dyke had a bad cockney accent because his vocal coach couldn’t do a good cockney accent

  5. catbart June 30, 2015 at 12:20 am #

    Why not: Mary and Bert were children together. They are approximately the same age. They played in all the fun places she took him. His father would still remember her from his son’s childhood. Bert would still have learned the magic word and work philosophy from Mary. Bert has always crushed on her (less weird than trying to date your ex-nanny) which explains their flirty and familiar relationship. Perhaps she has always come and gone from his life so he isn’t surprised to see her and in their more recent interactions, she has been a nanny so he has been through it with her and other children.

  6. Jane Banks August 3, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    In the book, Uncle Albert is Mary’s uncle.

  7. María Pozo October 30, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

    Can you just read the book part in which is specified that Bert is the “Special Boy Friend” of Mary and forget that strange theory, please?

  8. Lydia June 9, 2016 at 1:24 am #

    I have to watch this everyday with my two year old. Thank you for the hilarious insight on a movie I thought I knew everything about.

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