Written by Pirata Hermosa
It started off as a sort of nickname given to them by their father, and then picked up by Walt Disney, and eventually all of Hollywood would know them as “The Boys.” They were Robert and Richard Sherman, the sons of a Jewish immigrant from Kiev who was a Tin Pan Alley writer and musician. Robert grew up wanting to be a famous novel writer, while his younger brother wanted to be a musician.
At the age of seventeen, Robert went to fight against the Nazis. Not only did he see his fair share of battle, but he witnessed the horror of the concentration camps and returned home only after being shot in the leg. Richard was never exposed to the experiences his older brother had lived through, and ended up with a more whimsical and energetic take on the world.
But it wasn’t until a few years later when their father challenged the two to write a song that someone would actually pay money to listen to, that the idea of working as a writing team was formed. That was a long time ago, and now that both men are in their 80s, their two sons, Jeffrey and Gregory, decided to create a documentary to share and celebrate the amazing musical accomplishments they made throughout their long career.
The music of the Sherman brothers has been ingrained into the minds and hearts of both children and adults due to being linked to one of the world’s most beloved entertainment companies. They were the first writers to be under contract at the Disney studios and were Walt’s personal favorites. They started with writing songs for Annette Funicello, which quickly led to film scores. They wrote songs for Mary Poppins, which they won an Oscar; The Parent Trap; The Aristocats; The Jungle Book; and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. They also wrote for Hanna-Barbera’s Charlotte’s Web and many more.
You can also thank them for much of the music at Disneyland, with their most famous being for the Enchanted Tiki Room and It’s a Small World ride, which they initially wrote for the 1964 World’s Fair.
The documentary not only includes current interviews with Robert and Richard, but also with Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Ben Stiller, Sam Goldwyn Jr, and many others that worked with them throughout the years.
The DVD contains many mini features that have the brothers discussing various topics like how they came up with many of their hits, how the role of Mary Poppins was cast, and the background on the creation of the Disneyland theme park.
There’s also a Jukebox that shows various clips of specific songs they created. Sometimes it’s a clip from a film, old footage of the two artists as they hammer out the lyrics, or the two brothers singing the song themselves.
There are several good reasons for watching this documentary. If you’re a Disney fan, you can just sit back and enjoy the old footage and hear the songs that you’ve come to love. If you’re a musician, it’s interesting to watch the creative process of putting together a musical number. And even if those reasons aren’t enough to compel someone to watch, it’s got an interesting story. For all of their musical success, the two men are complete opposites and spent most of their lives completely separate from one another.