Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

PG-13 | 120 mins | Drama | 13 December 2013

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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HISTORY

End credits include the following statements: "The producers wish to acknowledge the work of Valerie Lawson, author of Mary Poppins, She Wrote - The Life of PL Travers " and “The producers wish to thank: J & M Costumers, Inc.; the State of California and the California Film Commission. Special thanks to the Disneyland® Resort, [and] Al Flores, Jon Storbeck, Barb Nicolson, Rich Langhorst, Laura Schaffell, Robyn Vossen, Mike Nichols, Keith Gossett, Mike Hageman, Kristen Lagerlof, Alejandra Gonzalez, Leigh Slaughter, Ken Hughey, Trevor Rush, Dave Caranci, Andy Massey. Special acknowledgement to: 'Moose,' by Robert B. Sherman.” Also stated are the following acknowledgements: “Charcoal sketches courtesy of the Norman Rockwell Estate Licensing Company; Aerial photograph and relief map courtesy of Getty Images; TIME magazine courtesy of TIME INC.; John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Negs. 3811, 8986 and 161299; “Lassie” © Classic Media, LLC. LASSIE, associated images and other indicia are trademarks of and copyrighted by Classic Media, LLC. All rights reserved; Developed with the assistance of Screen Australia; Developed with the assistance of BBC FILMS.” The picture is dedicated: “In memory of Peter Ronald Owen and Daniel Harris.”
       End credits also feature archival photographs of P. L. Travers, Walt Disney, and other filmmakers associated with the production of Mary Poppins (1964, see entry). Many of the historical images are displayed onscreen corresponding to their modern-day credit, showing the audience how the real-life filmmakers appeared at the time of Mary Poppins’ production. The end credit crawl is transposed over the image of a reel-to-reel tape recorder, which transmits an audio recording of a meeting between Travers and the ... More Less

End credits include the following statements: "The producers wish to acknowledge the work of Valerie Lawson, author of Mary Poppins, She Wrote - The Life of PL Travers " and “The producers wish to thank: J & M Costumers, Inc.; the State of California and the California Film Commission. Special thanks to the Disneyland® Resort, [and] Al Flores, Jon Storbeck, Barb Nicolson, Rich Langhorst, Laura Schaffell, Robyn Vossen, Mike Nichols, Keith Gossett, Mike Hageman, Kristen Lagerlof, Alejandra Gonzalez, Leigh Slaughter, Ken Hughey, Trevor Rush, Dave Caranci, Andy Massey. Special acknowledgement to: 'Moose,' by Robert B. Sherman.” Also stated are the following acknowledgements: “Charcoal sketches courtesy of the Norman Rockwell Estate Licensing Company; Aerial photograph and relief map courtesy of Getty Images; TIME magazine courtesy of TIME INC.; John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Negs. 3811, 8986 and 161299; “Lassie” © Classic Media, LLC. LASSIE, associated images and other indicia are trademarks of and copyrighted by Classic Media, LLC. All rights reserved; Developed with the assistance of Screen Australia; Developed with the assistance of BBC FILMS.” The picture is dedicated: “In memory of Peter Ronald Owen and Daniel Harris.”
       End credits also feature archival photographs of P. L. Travers, Walt Disney, and other filmmakers associated with the production of Mary Poppins (1964, see entry). Many of the historical images are displayed onscreen corresponding to their modern-day credit, showing the audience how the real-life filmmakers appeared at the time of Mary Poppins’ production. The end credit crawl is transposed over the image of a reel-to-reel tape recorder, which transmits an audio recording of a meeting between Travers and the Mary Poppins writers. Travers describes her vision of the Banks’ home on Cherry Tree Lane, in London, England, and disputes the men’s interpretation of her book. She also implies that she grew up in England, and insists that the “Mr. Banks” character “is able… he has a tender, good heart, not a change of heart, because he has always been sweet, but worried with the cares of life.”
       According to a 16 Dec 2013 HR article, Saving Mr. Banks originated with a 2002 Australian documentary television series by producer Ian Collie, titled “The Shadow of Mary Poppins.” Collie was reportedly intrigued by his discovery that P. L. Travers’ identity was clandestine and fraught with inconsistency, including the fact that she was of Australian heritage, despite her legendary “proper British image.”
       As noted in a 13 Dec 2013 Vanity Fair interview with screenwriter Kelly Marcel, a first draft of the script was completed in 2003 by Sue Smith, and HR added that Collie used Smith’s work to attract British producer Alison Owen, hoping to set up the project as a Australian-U.K. co-production. However, the filmmakers realized that Saving Mr. Banks would be a problematic venture, since Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures would have to license intellectual property rights, and would undoubtedly decline to do so if a competing company optioned the project. Still, Owen used her personal resources and financing from BBC Films to hire Kelly Marcel, who was known for her work as a television writer. Marcel adapted Smith’s autobiographical script, focusing the narrative on Travers’ 1961 two-week business trip to Los Angeles, CA, where she worked with Walt Disney, as well as screenwriter Don DaGradi and songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman. Mary Poppins’ second credited screenwriter, Bill Walsh, is not featured in Saving Mr. Banks.
       Although Owen was reportedly pleased with Marcel’s draft, she remained reticent about approaching Disney and wanted to first secure the approval of the Sherman brothers. During Italy’s 2011 Ischia Film Festival, Owen serendipitously befriended a Los Angeles, CA, neighbor of Richard Sherman, who offered to give him the script. In turn, Richard Sherman became an advocate for the project, although his brother, Robert, died 6 Mar 2012 before principal photography began. According to HR, Richard Sherman cried at his first meeting with the filmmakers, remembering the struggles he endured while trying to work with Travers. However, the script for Saving Mr. Banks helped him forgive the writer, as he had not previously known about her troubled childhood. Marcel’s script was subsequently included in the 2011 “’Black List’ of top unproduced films, and former Creative Artists Agency (CAA) executive Bob Bookman helped establish Saving Mr. Banks in Hollywood, where Disney Studios embraced the project with the approval of Walt Disney’s surviving daughter, Diane Disney Miller. A 16 Oct 2013 NYT article stated that the studio first considered buying the script as a defensive strategy, to prevent the picture from being made, but ultimately decided that the premise was an opportunity to promote the Disney brand, and demonstrate the significance of storytelling. Disney chief executive officer Robert Iger telephoned Tom Hanks personally to offer him the role of “Walt Disney,” as the studio had never before entrusted an actor to portray the company founder onscreen. A 10 Apr 2012 DV news item formally announced that both Hanks and Emma Thompson were negotiating contracts for their roles.
       According to various contemporary sources, the filmmakers were initially concerned that Disney Studios would insist on sugarcoating the representation of its founder, but director John Lee Hancock told the 16 Dec 2013 HR that after “discussions” with executives, the script remained uncensored. Although Hancock claimed that Saving Mr. Banks portrayed a realistic, judicious impression of Walt Disney, revealing him as a faulty human being and a sensitive artist, as well as a ruthless businessman, many articles published at the time of release noted the film’s lack of scenes with Disney indulging in his three-pack-a-day cigarette smoking addiction, which contributed to his death from lung cancer in 1966. In an 18 Oct 2012 HR news item written during production, Hanks reported that the film would refrain from addressing controversial issues surrounding Disney’s life and business practices, such as his violation of labor laws, but that he would “chain smoke his way through the picture.” Still, the final film contained only subtle smoking references. In a 12 Dec 2013 WSJ article, Marcel explained that “existing contracts” stipulated that Disney could not be portrayed inhaling smoke, but she included scenes in which he was holding cigarettes and coughing.
       Similarly, Saving Mr. Banks abstained from addressing the “darker and more mysterious” elements of Travers’ personal life, which have been the subject of speculation in various biographies and publications, including a 28 Oct 2008 Telegraph article.
       During pre-production, the filmmakers were permitted access to the Walt Disney Archive in Burbank, CA, where they discovered the thirty-nine audiotapes which resulted from Travers’ insistence that her meetings at the studio be recorded to uphold verbal agreements. The tapes were both referred to in the film, and featured in the end credits. In addition, production designer Michael Corenblith used over 500 historical photographs to recreate Disney’s office, along with artifacts from an exhibit of Disney’s workroom at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
       As announced in a 19 Sep 2012 Disney press release, principal photography began that day in Los Angeles, with a projected end date of “around Thanksgiving.” Locations included Disney Studios in Burbank, as well as Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. On 6 Nov 2012, the Orange County Register stated that the production’s two days at Disneyland, 6 – 7 Nov 2012, marked one of the few instances of filming at the theme park; the last occasion was for Tom Hanks’s 1996 picture That Thing You Do (see entry). Over 600 Disneyland employees were dressed in period costume to perform as background actors. The 16 Oct 2013 NYT listed the film’s budget as $35 million.
       Saving Mr. Banks premiered opening night of AFI Fest on 7 Nov 2013, and was named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe award in the category Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Emma Thompson). This film was nominated for one Academy Award for Music (Original Score).
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Apr 2012.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 2012.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 2013
p. 79.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 2013.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 2013
p. 1.
New York Times
16 Oct 2013.
---
New York Times
13 Dec 2013
p. 8.
Register (Orange County)
6 Nov 2012.
---
Telegraph (London)
28 Oct 2008.
---
Vanity Fair
13 Dec 2013.
---
WSJ
12 Dec 2013.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Ruby Films/Essential Media and Entertainment production
in association with BBC Films and Hopscotch Features
a John Lee Hancock film
Developed with the Assistance of Screen Australia
Developed with the Assistance of BBC Films
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
1st asst dir, United Kingdom unit
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam 1st asst
Cam 1st asst
Cam 2d asst
Loader
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Set lighting tech
Set lighting tech
Set lighting tech
Set lighting tech
Set lighting tech
Set lighting tech
Set lighting tech
Set lighting tech
Set lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Best boy rigging elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Grip
Technocrane op
Technocrane tech
Key rigging grip
Rigging grip best boy
Dir of photog, United Kingdom unit
Gaffer, United Kingdom unit
Key grip, United Kingdom unit
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
Graphic des
Art dept coord
Storyboard artist
Storyboard artist
Art dept res
Art dept prod asst
Art dir, United Kingdom unit
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst ed, LA
Asst ed, NY
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Prop asst
On-set dresser
Senior lead set des
Lead set des
Set des
Set dec coord
Drapery foreman
Const coord
Gen const foreman
Const buyer
Labor foreman
Labor foreman
Head plasterer
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker foreman
Head greens foreman
Paint supv
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Prop master, United Kingdom unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Key costumer
Key set costumer
Principal set costumer
Costumer - Mr. Hanks
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Set costumer
Set costumer
Extras costumer
Ager/Dyer
Cost dept asst
Cost supv, United Kingdom unit
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus consultant
Orch cond
Supv mus ed
Temp mus ed
Asst mus ed
Score rec & mixed
Orch rec
Digital audio op
Mus preparation
Audio coord
Digital coord
Score rec and mixed at
Asst eng
Asst eng
Instrumental soloist
Instrumental soloist
Instrumental soloist
Instrumental soloist
Instrumental soloist
Pre-rec and on-cam mus mixer
On cam mus prep
Rehearsal and pre-rec piano
Rehearsal and pre-rec piano
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd utility
Video assist op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Dial supv sd ed
Dial ed
Sd eff and des ed
1st asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley mixer
Foley mixer
Foley rec at
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
Mix tech
ADR & sd re-rec at
Sd ed & des by
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Loop troop
Sd mixer, United Kingdom unit
Video assist op, United Kingdom unit
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff prod
Spec eff coord
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Title seq des and prod by
End title crawl by
Visual eff by
Visual eff supv, Luma Pictures
Visual eff supv, Luma Pictures
VFX prod, Luma Pictures
Digital prod mgr, Luma Pictures
Lead digital coord, Luma Pictures
Digital eff supv, Luma Pictures
2D supv, Luma Pictures
CG supv, Luma Pictures
Roto & paint supv, Luma Pictures
Lighter/Compositor, Luma Pictures
Lighter/Compositor, Luma Pictures
Lighter/Compositor, Luma Pictures
Lighter/Compositor, Luma Pictures
Lighter/Compositor, Luma Pictures
Lighter/Compositor, Luma Pictures
FX artist, Luma Pictures
Tracking/Matchmove, Luma Pictures
Model/Texture artist, Luma Pictures
Model/Texture artist, Luma Pictures
Visual eff by
DANCE
MAKEUP
Co-dept head make-up
Co-dept head make-up
Key make-up artist
Make-up artist
Make-up artist
Make-up artist
Make-up dept asst
Hair des/Hair dept head
Key hair stylist
Hair stylist
Hair stylist
Hair stylist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod supv
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc scout
Environmental steward
Post prod asst, LA
Post prod asst, NY
ADR voice casting
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to Mr. Hancock
Asst to Ms. Owen, UK
Asst to Ms. Owen, US
Asst to Mr. Steuer
Asst to Ms. Thompson
Asst to Mr. Hanks
Asst to Mr. Farrell
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Const accountant
Studio teacher
Addl studio teacher
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
2d asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Post prod accountant
Accounting clerk
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Picture car capt
Casting asst
Casting asst
Young Ginty casting
Casting assoc, AUS
Extras casting
Extras casting assoc
Extras casting coord
Mr. Hanks' dialect coach
Mr. Farrell's dialect coach
Animal coord
Animal trainer
Set medic
Const medic
Const medic
Massage & reflexology
Line prod, United Kingdom unit
Prod coord, United Kingdom unit
Loc mgr, United Kingdom unit
Scr supv, United Kingdom unit
Medic, United Kingdom unit
For Ruby Films
For Ruby Films
For Ruby Films
For Ruby Films
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt driver
P. L. Travers stand-in
Walt Disney stand-in
Ginty stand-in
Travers Goff stand-in
Ralph stand-in
Don DaGradi stand-in
Biddy stand-in
ANIMATION
Tinker Bell anim created at
Prod/Creative, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Prod mgr, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Spec projects coord, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Prod dept secy, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Anim, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Clean up anim, Walt Disney Animation Studios
General TD, Walt Disney Animation Studios
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate provided by
CO3 exec prod/Col, Company 3
DI prod, Company 3
Digital conform, Company 3
DI technologist, Company 3
Col asst, Company 3
Head of prod, Company 3
Account exec, Company 3
SOURCES
SONGS
"Chim Chim Cher-ee," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Randy Kerber
"One Mint Julep," written by Rudy Toombs, performed by Ray Charles, courtesy of The Ray Charles Foundation, under license from the Ray Charles Marketing Group
"Big Noise From Winnetka," written by Ray Bauduc, Bob Haggart, Bob Crosby and Gil Rodin, performed by The Swing Masters, courtesy of Dare Records
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SONGS
"Chim Chim Cher-ee," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Randy Kerber
"One Mint Julep," written by Rudy Toombs, performed by Ray Charles, courtesy of The Ray Charles Foundation, under license from the Ray Charles Marketing Group
"Big Noise From Winnetka," written by Ray Bauduc, Bob Haggart, Bob Crosby and Gil Rodin, performed by The Swing Masters, courtesy of Dare Records
"Lassie Main Title," written by Les Baxter, courtesy of Classic Media, LLC
"Wonderful World of Color," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by The Wellingtons, courtesy of Walt Disney Records
"Heigh-Ho," written by Frank Churchill and Larry Morey, performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, courtesy of Derry Music Company
"Chim Chim Cher-ee," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak
"This Is Not Goodbye," written by Marc Ferrari and Daniel May, performed by Daniel May, courtesy of FirstCom Music
"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocius," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak
"A Kiss Under The Stars," written by Marc Ferrari and Daniel May, performed by Daniel May, courtesy of FirstCom Music
"A Spoonful of Sugar," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak
"Feed The Birds," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Jason Schwartzman
"A Man Has Dreams," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Jason Schwartzman and Tom Hanks
"Fidelity Fiduciary Bank," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novak and Bradley Whitford
"Estudiantina," arranged and performed by Mark Mothersbaugh, courtesy of Mutato Muzika
"Blaydon Races," arranged by Charles Ernest Catcheside-Warrington
"Men of Harlech," arranged by Marshall Bowen
"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," written by Al Hoffman, Jerry Livingston and Mack David
"Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," written by Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert
"Mary Poppins Medley: A Spoonful of Sugar/Jolly Holiday/Feed The Birds," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra, courtesy of The Decca Music Group, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"A Spoonful Of Sugar," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Julie Andrews, courtesy of Walt Disney Records
"Jolly Holiday," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews, courtesy of Walt Disney Records
"Step In Time," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by Dick Van Dyke, courtesy of Walt Disney Records
"Let's Go Fly A Kite," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by David Tomlinson, Dick Van Dyke and The Londoners, courtesy of Walt Disney Records
"Mary Poppins Overture," written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, performed by "Orchestra," courtesy of Walt Disney Records.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
13 December 2013
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 7 November 2013 at AFI Fest
Los Angeles and New York openings: 13 December 2013
Production Date:
began 19 September 2012 in Los Angeles, CA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby® Digital in selected theatres; Datasat Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Shot in Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Deluxe
Duration(in mins):
120
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
48317
SYNOPSIS

On 2 April 1961 in London, England, children’s author P. L. Travers is roused from a memory of her beloved, eccentric father by the arrival of her literary agent, Diarmuid Russell. He has come to escort her to the airport, as she is travelling to Los Angeles, California, to meet producer Walt Disney. The filmmaker has been trying to option the film rights to Travers’ Mary Poppins series for twenty years, but she suddenly declares the deal is off. Although Travers despises the Disney brand of happy endings, Russell warns his client that her books are no longer generating royalties, and she will soon lose her house. When he reminds her of Disney’s promise to refrain from making an animated film, Travers grudgingly agrees to resume her two-week business trip on condition that she will not sign the contract until she is satisfied with the script. As Travers boards the airplane, she remembers herself as a child, leaving her comfortable home in Maryborough, Australia, for the remote Queensland outpost of Allora, where her father accepted a new job as bank manager. Upon arrival in Los Angeles, Travers is chauffeured to the Beverly Hills Hotel by a cheery man named Ralph, and is horrified to find her room overflowing with Disney merchandise. Later, at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Travers meets Don DaGradi, who has been hired to adapt her work, as well as songwriting brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, but she bitterly declares her opposition to making a musical. She insists on meeting Disney, and is disconcerted by ... +


On 2 April 1961 in London, England, children’s author P. L. Travers is roused from a memory of her beloved, eccentric father by the arrival of her literary agent, Diarmuid Russell. He has come to escort her to the airport, as she is travelling to Los Angeles, California, to meet producer Walt Disney. The filmmaker has been trying to option the film rights to Travers’ Mary Poppins series for twenty years, but she suddenly declares the deal is off. Although Travers despises the Disney brand of happy endings, Russell warns his client that her books are no longer generating royalties, and she will soon lose her house. When he reminds her of Disney’s promise to refrain from making an animated film, Travers grudgingly agrees to resume her two-week business trip on condition that she will not sign the contract until she is satisfied with the script. As Travers boards the airplane, she remembers herself as a child, leaving her comfortable home in Maryborough, Australia, for the remote Queensland outpost of Allora, where her father accepted a new job as bank manager. Upon arrival in Los Angeles, Travers is chauffeured to the Beverly Hills Hotel by a cheery man named Ralph, and is horrified to find her room overflowing with Disney merchandise. Later, at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Travers meets Don DaGradi, who has been hired to adapt her work, as well as songwriting brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, but she bitterly declares her opposition to making a musical. She insists on meeting Disney, and is disconcerted by his informality, but learns that he was introduced to Mary Poppins by his own daughters. Having promised the girls that he would make a film version of their favorite book, Disney will stop at nothing to produce Mary Poppins and declares that it will be a “revolutionary” picture. Taking Travers’ hands in his, Disney vows to uphold the book’s integrity. However, Travers regards her characters as “family” and refuses to sign a contract. Insisting that all conversations be tape-recorded to verify verbal agreements, Travers reconvenes with DaGradi and the Sherman brothers to review the screenplay. However, she is unfamiliar with staging and scene descriptions, and is displeased by the song, “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” She later disparages production designs, and insists that the Banks family should not be portrayed as wealthy. When Disney learns of Travers’ incessant nitpicking, he attempts to appease her, but the author is still intent on withholding screen rights. Back at the Beverly Hills Hotel bar, Travers orders tea and again remembers her father, whose alcoholism threatened the family’s security. Back at Disney Studios, the Sherman brothers compose “A Spoonful Of Sugar,” but Travers finds the lyrics patronizing. She declares that Mary Poppins, unlike Disney, is “the enemy of whimsy and sentiment.” She orders the men to find the “gravitas” of the narrative, then throws the script out the window. In her hotel room that evening, Travers telephones her agent to complain that she is “at war with herself.” Remembering her father’s refrain, “Life is an illusion,” Travers believes that her childhood imagination created conflict between her parents, and provoked her father’s alcoholism. Sometime later at the studio, the Sherman brothers perform their song, “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank.” As she listens, Travers is haunted by a memory of her father, who embarrassed his family and bank executives by getting drunk before an Allora county fair awards ceremony. When the Shermans’ lyrics mock the character “Mr. Banks,” whom Travers modeled after her father, the author protests, declaring, “He was not a monster!” Suppressing tears, Travers walks away from the baffled men, muttering regret that she let her father down yet again and remembering how he suffered withdrawal from alcohol. The man’s condition became so hopeless, Travers’ mother attempted suicide, but tranquility was temporarily restored by the arrival of the magical yet practical Aunt Ellie, who became a model for “Mary Poppins.” After her father finally succumbed to his illness and died, Travers blamed her Aunt Ellie for failing to remedy the family tragedy. Back in the present, Ralph notices Travers on the Disney Studio lot lawn, diverting her attention to fallen leaves. He comforts the writer, reflecting that his daughter is bound to a wheelchair and he fears for her future, but he has learned to “live for today.” Travers, who notes that she has no family, creates a miniature bandstand with the leaves, portraying a scene from Mary Poppins, and Ralph wishes aloud that he could show his daughter the mystical places within Travers’ imagination. Later, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Travers receives a telephone call from Disney, who wonders aloud how to make his “favorite author” happy. He insists that she accompany him to Disneyland, “the happiest place on Earth,” and despite Travers’ protests, Ralph chauffeurs her to the theme park the following day. There, Disney forces her to ride the merry-go-round and announces that his writing team has come up with a new approach to “Mr. Banks.” The next day at the studio, Travers is finally won over by a rendition of the song “Let’s Go Fly A Kite,” which portrays Mr. Banks mending his children’s kite and gives the film an uplifting conclusion. However, Travers is outraged to learn that the picture will include animation. Feeling betrayed by Disney, she returns her contract unsigned, and goes back to London. Meanwhile, Disney learns that Travers’ identity is fictitious; her birth name is “Helen Goff,” and she is Australian by birth rather than a high-class Englishwoman. He takes the next flight to London and shows up at Travers’ doorstep, announcing that she has misjudged him. Disney suggests that disappointments in life have led Travers to hold faith only in Mary Poppins, but Travers counters that the character is merely fiction. In response, Disney reveals his knowledge that Travers created a fictional personality for herself, to conceal childhood wounds. Disney admits he was abused by his own father, but declares that he is tired of feeling sad about the past. He implores Travers to share her story with the world and allow him to transform it into a tale of hope and joy. Disney divulges his knowledge that the author adopted her father’s first name, “Travers,” as her own pseudonym surname, and encourages the woman to forgive her former self, the young “Helen Goff.” He wants to paint a fresh picture of the troubled, yet endearing elder Travers Goff, and redeem the man in Mary Poppins. Sometime later, Travers finally signs the contract, and the film is produced. Although Disney does not invite Travers to the premiere, she shows up anyway. Ralph chauffeurs her to the Chinese Theatre, insisting that the film would have been impossible without her brilliant imagination. Watching Mary Poppins on the big screen, Travers cries aloud, remembering her father’s promise to never leave her. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.