When I went out to the Disney Studios last month, the folks there had a huge surprise for us. While we were there, they were able to get us in to see a private museum display that they’d created about Walt Disney’s quest to make Mary Poppins into a movie which was chronicled in the film Saving Mr. Banks. They also brought us into the Disney archives to hear actual recordings of P. L. Travers (who wrote Mary Poppins) herself discussing the film with the Sherman brothers (who wrote the music for the film). I’ll write up a report about that in detail later this week.
Meanwhile, I want to point out that Saving Mr. Banks is going to be released on Blu-Ray and home video tomorrow, March 18. Disney sent me an early copy of the film to check it out, and it’s fantastic stuff. If you’re a fan of writers and Hollywood at all, you’ll love this film. Tom Hanks is fantastic as Walt Disney, who promised his daughters he’d make a movie out of Mary Poppins, a book they adored. Emma Thompson shines as P. L. Travers, who initially outright refused to consider a film adaptation, for reasons that become clear later in this tale.
The amount of work that went into the details of the film was phenomenal. They even shut down part of Disneyland for a while and redecorated it in the style of the early ’60s—which they reproduced from photographs of the era. They recreated Walt’s office to a T, again using old photographs as the basis for handcrafting replacements for the many toys and models he kept in his place.
A group of outside filmmakers originally developed the film on their own, but they eventually took the project to show it to Disney, partly to see if they would be bothered enough about the film to try to keep them from making it. Instead, the Disney execs loved it, and they decided to put the company’s full weight behind it. That love shines through.
The Blu-Ray package contains deleted scenes, plus a heartwarming rendition of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” dedicated to Richard Sherman, who’s still making people smile at 85. Also, John Lee Hancock, who directed Saving Mr. Banks, appears in a featurette called “Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to the Present.” In this, he gives a tour of the studios and shows how much the place has changed over the years, and how much it’s stayed the same.
No Disney-phile should be without this.