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The boys: the Sherman
brothers’ story (6/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 101 minutes.
About 15 years ago I started taking yoga because I
had injured my hip. Eventually I came to know the lady who generally was
next to me and we became friends. I discovered that she was a dancer who
had also been Gene Kelly’s assistant choreographer. Several years later
her boyfriend and she threw a party to show clips of all her movie
appearances (including “Singin’ in the Rain”) that her boyfriend had put
together. It was a very small party, maybe 15 people in all. Two of them
were Robert and Richard Sherman, Oscar®-winners for “Mary Poppins.” They
weren’t there to perform, merely to share some memories with an old
friend, but, naturally. Richard sat down at the piano and played lots of
This is a documentary about the two brothers. What
is surprising is that they weren’t good friends. In fact, Robert
eventually moved to England
and the two didn’t speak. Their two sons got a video camera and recorded
interviews with both brothers, added some archival films, including an
interview with the two of them conducted in 1984, added some film clips,
and came up with an interesting story of their two fathers.
F. Scott Fitzgerald is quoted as saying:
A sentimentalist thinks good things will last;
A romantic hopes they will not.
The interviews show the brothers as two
completely different personalities. Robert is a romantic and Richard is
a sentimentalist, and it shows in the way they acted towards one another
and the way they speak about it.
One criticism I have is that rarely are the years
of the occurrences of which they speak identified. This makes it
extremely difficult, if not impossible, to orient oneself
chronologically unless you have a good knowledge of their career. Such
advance knowledge is unlikely, given that they were certainly not on the
same page as people like Harry Warren, George & Ira Gershwin, and others
who wrote for movies, despite having written “It’s a Small World,” the
most translated song ever written.
There is very little music in this film. I would
have liked to have seen full performances of many of their best-known
songs. But, ‘twas not to be. The music is limited to clips, and that
I’m not sure that this documentary will make them
any better known than they are. They wrote some tuneful songs with
inventive lyrics, but they were never in the top tier of songwriters.
Even so, it’s interesting.