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Peter T Chattaway

Saving Mr. Banks

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Links to our threads on the various versions of Mary Poppins: the 1964 film, the 2004 stage musical, and the proposed film adaptation of the stage musical.

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Disney Acquiring Black List Script ‘Saving Mr. Banks,’ On Making ‘Mary Poppins’

EXCLUSIVE: The Walt Disney Company is near a deal to acquire Saving Mr. Banks, the Kelly Marcel-scripted saga of how Walt Disney persuaded Australian author P.L. Travers to sell him the rights to make a film out of Mary Poppins. That courtship took 14 years. Disney seems a natural place for the script, considering the studio owns many rights from making the 1964 classic film that starred Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and David Tomlinson, the latter of whom played Mr. Banks in the film. Also, what studio is better equipped to make its founder, Walt Disney, a major character in a feature film?

The heart of this script comes from how close Travers felt to her story of a nanny with magical powers. Mary Poppins was highly personal, and reflected hardships in her own life and her relationship with her father, who died when she was 7. Disney finally persuaded her to let him make the film, but she was prickly all the way to the end. While Mary Poppins was lauded immediately, she hated the animated sequences in the film so much that she refused to sell any of her other works to Disney. . . .

Deadline.com, February 8

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Colin Farrell has joined the cast.

Deadline has told you Tom Hanks will play Disney and Emma Thompson will play Travers. Farrell will play her father, the inspiration for the Mr. Banks character played by David Tomlinson in the 1964 classic film that starred Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.

If I'm reading that correctly, Farrell will play Emma Thompson's father. Farrell is 36 and Thompson is 53. Anyone know how that makes sense?

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Wikipedia indicates that P.L. Travers was born in 1899 and moved with her mother and siblings to another town in 1907, after her father died. So I'm guessing we'll see Farrell in flashbacks, or a prologue.

(I don't know when Disney first started to pursue the movie rights to Mary Poppins, but the movie was finished in 1964, i.e. the year that Travers turned 65.)

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Well, the trailer suggests the film is a blandly smooth affair, hitting exactly the beats you would expect and absolutely nothing more. And as it's Disney, Tom Hanks and John Lee Hancock I'm really not surprised.

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Perhaps, but IMHO anything that prompts renewed consideration of my second-favorite film is worthwhile.

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Oh, if you love the film THAT much, I can understand this might be exciting. I've always found Poppins a mixed bag myself - some wonderful, wonderful scenes alongside some slightly tedious ones. And being a Londoner it is hard to get past just how terrible Van Dyke's accent is. I mean, just atrocious...

Interesting fact: I grew up just a mile or so down the road from the original Admiral's house -

3422208760_71441ca150_z.jpg

which is the sort of house any child would want to live in.

Edited by Anodos

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Perhaps, but IMHO anything that prompts renewed consideration of my second-favorite film is worthwhile.

Wow. I thought I loved Mary Poppins more than most people, but you have me beat by a long shot.

What's your favorite film?

Edited by Evan C

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What's your favorite film?

The Great Dictator.

Sometimes one likes a film for personal reasons. The trailer, indeed the title, of the forthcoming film appeals to me because it points out that the whole purpose of Mary Poppins is the redemption of Mr. Banks. One either loves or hates the magic and the kid stuff and Dick Van Dyke's accent, but either way, those aren't what it's all about.

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I suspect that, even if it dissapoints, this film might be difficult to write about without sounding like Ebenezer Scrooge.  I wrote an essay about Disneyland once and the whole thing felt like a dangerous tight-rope exercise in suppressing the urge to say bah humbug.

 

When is this being released again?  December 20th.  There, see what I mean?

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I wrote an essay about Disneyland once and the whole thing felt like a dangerous tight-rope exercise in suppressing the urge to say bah humbug.

For what it's worth, Jeremy, I showed that essay to a friend of mine who's a huge Disney fan and he thought it was great.

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I suspect that, even if it dissapoints, this film might be difficult to write about without sounding like Ebenezer Scrooge.  I wrote an essay about Disneyland once and the whole thing felt like a dangerous tight-rope exercise in suppressing the urge to say bah humbug.

 

When is this being released again?  December 20th.  There, see what I mean?

Yeah, and I suspect that critics who end up disliking it for very legitimate reasons, will probably receive accusations of being Scrooge-like.

 

I do have to admit that I'm really looking forward to it.  The trailer makes it look like the right balance of sentimental and humorous, while featuring very good performances from Thompson and Hanks, and also being a touching tribute to one of the most influential films of my childhood.

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Yeah, and I suspect that critics who end up disliking it for very legitimate reasons, will probably receive accusations of being Scrooge-like. 

Scratch that.  Critics who give it negative reviews will probably be compared to Mr. Banks.  "Play games, sing songs - ridiculous!" 

 

Which is unfortunate, because that sort of name calling kills any meaningful discussion that could otherwise be had.

Edited by Evan C

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Does anyone else get the feeling that this is going to marketed toward the Hollywood insider crowd as the Argo or The Artist of 2013?  You know, the movie they'll love because it's ultimately about the movies.  Or am I being too cynical, too early?

Edited by John Drew

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Does anyone else get the feeling that this is going to marketed toward the Hollywood insider crowd as the Argo or The Artist of 2013?  You know, the movie they'll love because it's ultimately about the movies.  Or am I being too cynical, too early?

I was thinking the same thing.  I didn't make the connection to Argo and The Artist, but I was thinking both Hanks and Thompson are playing the type of roles that often win Oscars, and both of them are fairly talented, so I would not be surprised to see Saving Mr. Banks receive a lot of nods this award season, and possibly a win for at least one of the leads.

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Floyd Norman, an animator who worked at the Disney studio during the time that this movie takes place, has seen the film and written about it for animation historian Michael Barrier's website:

As always, I enjoyed your post on the new Disney film, Saving Mr. Banks. You might be surprised to hear that I thoroughly enjoyed the film and think that audiences will be surprised how good it is.

I count myself lucky to have been in meetings with the Old Maestro back in the sixties. On set, I even related to Mr. Hanks that he was playing Walt somewhat young. No worries, however. I think Tom Hanks has captured in his performance the essence of Walt Disney. His enthusiasm, his incredible optimism, and his ability as a canny salesman. No, he doesn't look like Walt and he doesn't sound like Walt. Yet, much to my surprise he is Walt Disney.

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Early on in this film, there's a scene where P.L. Travers receives a bunch of stuffies from Walt Disney, one of which is of Winnie-the-Pooh. And when she sees this, Travers says something like, "Poor A.A. Milne."

Winnie-the-Pooh merchandise had been cranked out since the 1930s; according to Wikipedia:

 

On 6 January 1930, Stephen Slesinger purchased U.S. and Canadian merchandising, television, recording and other trade rights to the "Winnie-the-Pooh" works from Milne for a $1000 advance and 66% of Slesinger's income, creating the modern licensing industry. By November 1931, Pooh was a $50 million-a-year business.

But it wasn't until 1961 -- the year this movie takes place -- that *Disney* got the rights to the character. And the first Winnie-the-Pooh *film* wouldn't be made until 1966, two years after Mary Poppins was completed.

So was Disney releasing Winnie-the-Pooh merchandise *before* he made the films? Or is the Disney of this film giving Travers a Winnie-the-Pooh stuffie that was made by *someone else* along with the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Goofy stuffies that were most definitely made by Disney (or one of his licensees)?

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"Are we supposed to believe this is some sort of a magic xylophone or something?"

Edited by Tyler

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Does anyone else get the feeling that this is going to marketed toward the Hollywood insider crowd as the Argo or The Artist of 2013?  You know, the movie they'll love because it's ultimately about the movies.  Or am I being too cynical, too early?

 

I was thinking the same thing.  I didn't make the connection to Argo and The Artist, but I was thinking both Hanks and Thompson are playing the type of roles that often win Oscars, and both of them are fairly talented, so I would not be surprised to see Saving Mr. Banks receive a lot of nods this award season, and possibly a win for at least one of the leads.

 

Certainly for the Hollywood insider crowd it has that appeal, but I think "Tom Hanks as Walt Disney" instantly has broader conceptual appeal than "Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin and John Goodman as some dudes you never heard of" or "Some French actors and John Goodman (again!) as fictional silent-era filmmakers." Add Mary Poppins and Emma Thompson into the mix, and you've got a film that a fair number of people will be interested in seeing, even without anyone playing Julie Andrews or Dick Van Dyke. 

 

FWIW, Walter Chaw, who hated the film, compared it on Twitter to the similarly titled Finding Neverland, which seems fair as far as tone and nostalgic, sentimental appeal go. (But he acknowledged my point when I noted that Saving Mr. Banks, unlike Finding Neverland, trades specifically on how Hollywood falsifies whatever it touches, and to that extent is more interesting than Finding Neverland. Beyond that, I also wonder if I enjoyed Saving Mr. Banks more than Finding Neverland in part because I don't care much about Mary Poppins, either literarily or cinematically, whereas I am rather attached to Peter Pan both literarily and cinematically.)

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