Los Angeles -- It certainly goes without saying that Walt Disney was a true American treasure, the likes of which we will never see. Not only did he have the vision and drive to move the boundaries of our imagination to new levels of excellence hitherto unprecedented in the arts, but also his business acumen coupled with a unique understanding of human nature refashioned the standard of American and world entertainment of which we are the direct beneficiary to this day.
Much of what we see today can be traced in some way to the Disney dream machine and magic, from the uncompromising higher standards of production, to the technical innovations like the multi-plane camera system that made it possible to project animation in a 3 dimensional sense, to the development of stereophonic sound and animatronics (motorized puppetry), the early phase of cybernetics, were among the many Disney innovations in the quest for the premiere family entertainment venue. But the real legacy of Disney lies in the inspiration that he seeded to others whether directly or in directly that are the hallmark of our current state of entertainment production and exhibition.
There is so much more that if continue to review the checklist of Disney's accomplishments I am afraid we will venture away from the subject matter of our discussion, "Mary Poppins", and the movie that tells the back story of one of Walt Disney's most lucrative films, possibly rivaling his first feature animation "Snow White".
"Saving Mr. Banks" is a momentary glimpse back in time during the latter years of Walt Disney, in the early 1960's, and his dream machine the Disney Studios in Burbank, CA, as he worked some of that Disney magic to convince Mary Poppins' fictional creator P.L. Travers to sell the film rights of her children's book. of the same name.
For Disney it was more than just optioning a book to make into a movie. He had made a promise to his daughters, die in the wool fans of the book, 20 years earlier that he would make Mary Poppins into a movie. It took 20 years to get her to sign on the dotted line.
Travers' royalties were dwindling and she needed money so she agreed to work with Disney and his team to bring her book to the screen. To say she was uncooperative is a mild assumption. She was very demanding and controlling and so was Uncle Walt. He had the money and the means to make it happen. She had the story and the will power. And that is where the movie begins.
A final note. "Mary Poppins" was a very special movie for me. The Disney technique and style is what brought me into the love and interest of working in the movies. I saw "Mary Poppins" in its original release in the theater. While others looked at the screen I was glancing at the projector trying to figure out how they could take a series of still images and make magic out of them on a two story wide screen. I wanted to be a part of that magic and I have never looked back since being a part of the process.
Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews would go on to established film careers, she being cast as Maria von Trapp in the "Sound of Music" and he as Caractacus Potts in the Ian Flemming (of James Bond fame) novel "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show". P.L. Travers got paid $100,000 for her creative objections, $750,000 in today's currency valuation.
"Mary Poppins would go on to win five Oscars(R), including two—Best Song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”) and Best Music, Original Score—for the Sherman brothers.
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