Saving Mr. Banks - a love story

The year was 1964 and my family had just moved from Florida to California. (Obviously, we've been here ever since, but that's not important right now.) I was nine years old.

One of the very first things we did was visit Disneyland. It had captured our imaginations from early on and we were so excited to visit the iconic park. Of course, as you know we fell in love with all things Disney at that point and pretty much never looked back. (Read about my mom's special Disney wish, made the year I was born.)

Another thing that happened in 1964, was the release of Walt Disney Pictures' Mary Poppins. My older sisters took me to see it in a theater in Westwood, as I recall. I can still even remember where I was sitting. The impact on my young imagination was immediate and visceral. I have never in my life had a theater experience like that one. I was completely captivated.

Immediately, I started begging for the long play album. In stereo. *sigh* The Disney magic is quite a force to be reckoned with. I played it and played it and memorized every song and practically wore out the grooves on that LP. Good times.

Mary poppins lp

Recently, Lucy and I were invited to a pre-screening of the film, Saving Mr. Banks, which was being shown in the Frank G. Wells Screening Room on the Walt Disney Studios lot.

Disney pictures tower


So, to clarify...we were going to see Saving Mr. Banks, which is about the relationship between Walt Disney and the author of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers and the making of Mary Poppins on the exact same lot that both pictures were filmed. If you've seen the trailers, you already know it's a beautiful thing. (Somebody pinch me.)

Having grown up during this specific time period, I can testify to the fact that Disney got the 60's look just right. Having been a lifelong Disneyphile (<--is that a word?) I was hardly surprised by how intensely I responded to the film. Almost the same reaction I had to seeing Mary Poppins back in 1964.

My favorite part of this clip is when songwriter Richard Sherman talks about how the film makers and designers did their job so well that he felt it was like watching a home movie.

Picture me and Lucy bouncing around the studio lot (seriously - there was bouncing) going from one spot to another. "Look at this! This is where that one scene was shot! Walt's office was up there!"

We had just seen the film and our emotions were still raw and the excitement was spilling out of us.

Animation studio then and now

See what we did there?

A few days later, I was invited to the press junket for Saving Mr. Banks, which made me feel sooo accidentally cool and a bit stressed at the same time. Burning question: What does one do at a press junket? And where exactly did that word come from?

So I dragged Eric along with me to the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel where I would get to ask questions of the actors and film makers.

Beverly hills hotel

The List of People at the junket made my head spin.

  • Tom Hanks ("Walt Disney")
  • Emma Thompson ("PL Travers")
  • Colin Farrell ("Robert Goff Travers")
  • Jason Schwartzman ("Richard Sherman")
  • BJ Novak ("Robert Sherman")
  • Bradley Whitford ("Don DaGradi")
  • John Lee Hancock (Director - he also directed The Blind Side.)
  • Kelly Marcel (Writer)
  • Alison Owen (Producer)

Emma thompson and tom hanks

Seriously. Somebody pinch me.

Cast of saving mr banks

I loved being a part of this day. The cast was brilliant as they patiently answered our questions. They were also were delightfully entertaining. I especially loved this moment when Tom Hanks describes the day he took his grandaughter to Disneyland. (Please excuse the herky-jerky, grainy, potato-phone video and enjoy the story.)

When the press event was over, some of us bloggers kind of rushed Tom Hanks for photos. He was very accomodating for a few minutes, but was being called to another appointment. We are all pushing to document the moment and get on camera with Tom Hanks.

Here's how this went down...

Me: "Tom! Selfie?"

Tom Hanks (starting to lean in)

Disembodied voice: "Mr. Hanks, we have to go now."

Tom Hanks look up to respond to the voice.

Marta snaps this shot.

Selfie with Tom

I lead a charmed life, don't I?

My opinion of the film? Oscar worthy. Beautiful. Iconic. Magical. Not-Enough-Superlatives.

Emma Thompson is by turns electrifying and cringe-worthy as the fussy P.L.Travers. An amazing performance. Tom Hanks is the embodiment of Walt Disney himself. Jason Schwartzman and BJ Novak are phenomenal as the legendary songwriters, Richard and Robert Sherman. Colin Farrell breaks your heart.

Full disclosure: I cried. Not just a single tear escaping the corner of my eye, but I wept. Openly and loudly. I guess you could call it "ugly" crying. Having said that, I encourage you to go see this film. Much the same way that Mary Poppins affected me back in 1964, my imagination has been captured and so has my heart.

Also, guess what's playing on a constant loop at my house right now?

Saving mr banks soundtrack

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

See the film. And take tissues. You've been warned.

Disney's Saving Mr. Banks opens everywhere on December 20th, 2013.