When Walt Disney's daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers' "Mary Poppins," he made them a promise - one that he didn't realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney's plans for the adaptation. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn't budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the ...
Where her book ended, their story began.
Filming Locations: Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort - 1600 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, California, USA
Did You Know?
Trivia: Mary Poppins (1964) songwriter and composer Richard M. Sherman served as a consultant for the film. In a manner of coincidence, it's similar to P.L. Travers serving as a consultant for Mary Poppins (1964), as the two of them talking with the filmmakers about what to include in a film to serve as authenticity from the respective source material. See more »
As Travers's limousine enters the Disney Studio property the camera pans over the Walt Disney Productions sign. However, as the car enters the gate you can see a brick sign on the street that partially displays "The Walt Disney". This is because the sign says "The Walt Disney Company". The Walt Disney Company replaced the name of Walt Disney Productions in 1986. See more »
Once upon a time (seeing as though that's how all fairy tales seem to
start), there lived a boy from Missouri, called Walt Disney. This boy
had a piece of paper with a mere sketch of a mouse upon it. Who ever
would have thought that this was to be the start of such a great
In 1961, Walt Disney invited P.L Travers, the author of "Mary Poppins",
to his California studios to discuss the possibility of acquiring the
rights to her book - a discussion that Mr. Disney had initially sparked
twenty years prior. For those two decades, the proud author refused to
depart with her precious work in fear of Hollywood's mutilation of it
and repeatedly told Mr. Persistent to go 'fly a kite up to the highest
heights'. However, when sales of her book begin to dwindle and with a
rough economic climate ahead, Travers reluctantly agreed to travel
across the Atlantic to hear what the impresario had to say. This untold
backstory of how Travers' classic work of literature made it to the big
screen provides the substance for John Lee Hancock's Saving Mr. Banks.
Here, we have an American icon that plays an American icon. Two-time
Academy Award winner Tom Hanks delivers extraordinary sense of
character as he renders Mr. Walt Disney with expert attention to
detail. "There's a lot of voice work, the way he walks, the body
positions, the way he holds his hands, the way he touches his
moustache. How he phrases things and lets sentences roll off the end",
Hancock remarks - and so Tom Hanks becomes the public face for Walt
Disney and we learn of the man behind the mask (with two fluffy ears).
Our central protagonist is Mrs. P. L Travers, played by Emma Thompson
(who similarly boasts two Academy Awards). "She was a wonderful case
study, requiring so many different shades. She was just so complex.
She's one of the most complicated people I've ever encountered", says
the British actress. Her rendition of a tetchy and cantankerous author
who's plagued by the memories of her past is brilliantly executed.
As narrative flashbacks delve into Mrs. Travers' childhood, we soon
realise the true depth of her literary creation, Mary Poppins. Mr.
Banks explores the bond between a young Travers (then Helen) and her
drunkard father, Travers Goff (exceptionally played by Colin Farrell).
Like a puzzle, the story is pieced together, bit by bit and we learn
that her deep-seated adoration for her father is what lies at the heart
of her magical masterpiece.
Demonstrating that her novel holds such personal significance, Travers
continues to exercises a stubborn reluctance to hand the rights to her
book over to what she considers to be a dollar-printing machine. The
straight-talking novelist is repulsed by Disney's empire and this is
only intensified when the entertainment wizard showers her in all kinds
of ridiculous merchandise. As Walt Disney haplessly pursues Travers,
unsettling the adamant writer with his vision of the film, it seems
that he will never obtain the rights to make the movie of Mary Poppins.
We are, of course, watching this in hindsight and the knowledge that
the book was made into a successful film adds a magical quality to the
experience and permits laughter as it plays on dramatic irony; and
there are some real gems for the Disney die-hards.
Walt Disney made a promise to his daughter to make the movie of Mary
Poppins. As the likelihood of fulfilling this promise fades into the
distance, the entertainment-guru reaches into his own childhood and
discovers a new, more personal connection to the emotionally troubled
Travers. In order to break away from a life dictated by her past,
Travers agrees to sign the waiver so that one the most lovable films in
cinematic history can be made.
This biographical dramedy stands as a poetic tale of hope, which
ultimately gives testament to the might of the mouse house and conveys
the magical idea that everybody has a story to tell. Making memories is
what Disney is all about and for its 125-minute runtime, we re-visit
old memories and we also create new ones. With all the conventions of a
family film (after all, this is Disney), Saving Mr. Banks is
supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! (Couldn't resist).