Saving Mr. Banks
Of course I was drawn to “Saving Mr. Banks” – the story of Walt Disney’s pursuit and ultimate achievement of bringing author P.L. Travers’ book “Mary Poppins” to the big screen. I have fond memories of watching Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in that wonderful musical, and I learned to play many of the Sherman Brothers songs on the piano. I had no idea that there was such an amazing backstory to this – and I’m so glad to have had a peek at the behind-the-scenes that went into the making of this brilliant, timeless classic film.
Here’s the plot summary as written by Walt Disney Pictures:
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 truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.
Saving Mr. Banks shifts between 1961 in Los Angeles as Walt Disney tries to win over “Mrs. Travers” and Australia in 1906 when “Mrs. Travers” was a child growing up with an alcoholic father (Colin Farrel) and an overwhelmed and exhausted mother (Ruth Wilson). It is worth noting that child actress Annie Rose Buckley plays the young girl, and she is brilliant in the role, sweet, yet wise – a very old soul.
The all-star case includes Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Travers, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, Kathy Baker, Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novack, Melanie Paxson and Rachel Griffiths.