LOS ANGELES - Movie animation has come a long way since Julie Andrews and Dick Van [filtered word] frolicked with cartoon penguins, sheep and carousel ponies in "Mary Poppins."
Yet fresh off her voice work in the cutting-edge cartoon sequel "Shrek 2," Andrews thinks the blend of live-action and animation holds up splendidly in the 1964 musical fantasy, which gets elaborate new DVD treatment in a 40th anniversary two-disc set out Tuesday.
"I looked at it again, and I'd just come off 'Shrek,' and I know these days how animation has changed and how different it is, the tools they have today," Andrews told The Associated Press. "But you don't see a single crack in the work of 'Poppins,' and they didn't have that technology in those days. It's brilliantly done."
For the new DVD edition, Andrews and Van [filtered word] teamed up with co-composer Richard Sherman for a reunion segment to reminisce about the film. The set also has an extensive making-of documentary and a new cartoon short featuring Andrews in an adaptation of one of P.L. Travers' "Mary Poppins" stories.
The Disney classic marked Andrews' film debut after a stage career that included originating the role of Eliza Doolittle in the London and Broadway productions of "My Fair Lady."
"Mary Poppins" stars Andrews as a practically perfect nanny who floats out of the London sky on her umbrella to become mother hen for the mischievous children of an aloof banker. The movie's memorable songs include "Chim-Chim-Cheree," "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."
The role earned Andrews a best-actress Academy Award, ironic given she was passed over in favor of Audrey Hepburn for the lead in the movie version of "My Fair Lady" that same year. Hepburn was not even nominated, though her co-star Rex Harrison won the best-actor prize and supporting players Stanley Holloway and Gladys Cooper earned nominations, while "My Fair Lady" won best picture.
Andrews said she never took her Oscar win as a vindication after losing out on the lead in "My Fair Lady."
"In my acceptance speech, I remember saying how I know you Americans are famous for your hospitality, but this is ridiculous. What I really meant was that I think they were saying, 'Welcome,'" Andrews said.
"People were saying welcome to the industry in some way. That may be because there was some sense that they felt unhappy I didn't do 'Fair Lady,' but it wasn't my feeling at all. I wasn't anybody in those days. I didn't expect to get it. I'd hoped, but I didn't really expect it."
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