When we first meet Mary Poppins’ author P. L Travers in ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ she has fallen on hard times yet refuses to entertain the advances of Walt Disney.
“I know what he’s going to do to her. She’ll be cavorting... and twinkling!” seethes the writer.
Yet the filmmaker is persistent, telling Travers that: “Twenty years ago I made a promise to my daughters that I would make your Mary Poppins fly off the pages of your books.”
Eventually, Travers flies to America to meet Disney and his team including Don DaGradi, Richard Sherman and his brother Robert, whose twee songs fail to curry favour.
“These books do not lend themselves to prancing and chirping,” Travers rebukes.
Despite a touching friendship with her chauffeur Ralph (Paul Giamatti), Travers is unmoved by the re-imagining of her cherished text and eventually she snaps, telling Disney: “Mary Poppins is not for sale.
“I won’t have her turned into one of your silly cartoons.”
Something has to give and it is Disney who realises that if he is to win over the author, he must confront the ghosts of his own past.