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Saving Mr. Disney
The Weekly Standard ^ | 1-20-14 | John Podhoretz

Posted on 01/20/2014 4:31:38 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic

The year is 1961.

A wonderful and kind and nice and glorious man named Walt Disney must convince a mean and nasty and crazy woman named P.L. Travers to allow him and his movie studio to do something really nice for his children and your children and everyone’s children. Our hero—call him Walt, everybody does, except P.L. Travers, because she’s mean and nasty and insists on “Mr. Disney”—wants to make a movie out of Travers’s book Mary Poppins, because he promised his kids he would, and a man never backs out on his promise to his kids. P.L. Travers is crazy because she doesn’t want him to do it and tries to sabotage the project by insisting he shouldn’t do it the way he knows it should be done. Unfortunately for all that is wonderful and nice and good, the crazy mean woman owns the rights because she happens to be the creator of Mary Poppins.

This is the plot of Saving Mr. Banks, starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. It is a strange plot, because we know that Disney will prevail and the classic movie we’re seeing in chrysalis will, in three years’ time, become a beautiful butterfly starring Julie Andrews—the 25th-most-successful movie ever made. The sketches we see on the wall in the Disney studio office of the songwriting Sherman brothers look exactly like the Edwardian London that would soon appear in Mary Poppins (1964). We watch the Sherman brothers conceive “A Spoonful of Sugar.” We hear one of them play the melody to “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” We are meant to swoon when they and the screenwriter dance with Travers to “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” Mary Poppins the movie is all there, including the notion of casting Dick Van Dyke as...

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TOPICS: Arts/Photography; Books/Literature; Music/Entertainment; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: hollywood; marypoppins; moviereview; pltravers; tomhanks; waltdisney
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John Podhoretz certainly must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed the day he wrote this. What a sour puss!

First of all, the movie is delightful. My husband and I loved it. My daughter and her husband loved it. My teen-aged grandchildren loved it. I'll never think of Walt Disney again without seeing Tom Hanks.

The movie also has a very serious theme about the deleterius and long-term effect alcoholism has on the alcoholic's family.

It also treats Ms. Travers very gently, considering her very strange life and persona. Look her up.

1 posted on 01/20/2014 4:31:38 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Holy moly, you are right! I usually like Podhoretz’s reviews, but this one’s like a screed. Who writes a screed against an innocuous movie like “Saving Mr. Banks”? Even if it’s all nonsense, who cares?

Evidently John Podhoretz does. This is probably the strangest movie review I’ve ever read.

I’d like to see that movie too, I love “Mary Poppins”, it’s the first movie I remember seeing and my whole family LOVED it.

2 posted on 01/20/2014 4:43:36 AM PST by jocon307
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Walt Disney was a GREAT man.....Tom Hanks is a Leftie Actor that is a HUGE Obama supporter. Why would you want to think of Tom Hanks....EVER?

The Left ALWAYS tries to bring down DECENT people......this is just another easy mark for them since he's dead.

3 posted on 01/20/2014 4:51:05 AM PST by Ann Archy (Abortion......the Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: All

WIKI Although P.L Travers was an adviser to the Disney production, she disapproved of the dilution of the harsher aspects of Mary Poppins’ character, felt ambivalent about the music, and so hated the use of animation that she ruled out any further adaptations of the later Mary Poppins novels.[12]

At the film’s star-studded première (to which she was not invited, but had to ask Walt Disney for permission to attend), she reportedly approached Disney and told him that the animated sequence had to go.[13] Disney responded by walking away, saying as he did, “Pamela, the ship has sailed.”[13]

Enraged at what she considered shabby treatment at Disney’s hands, Travers would never again agree to another Poppins/Disney adaptation, though Disney made several attempts to persuade her to change her mind.

So fervent was Travers’ dislike of the Disney adaptation and of the way she felt she had been treated during the production, that when producer Cameron Mackintosh approached her about the stage musical when she was into her 90s, she acquiesced on the condition that only English-born writers and no one from the film production were to be directly involved with creating the stage musical.

This specifically excluded the Sherman Brothers from writing additional songs for the production, even though they were still very prolific. However, original songs and other aspects from the 1964 film were allowed to be incorporated into the production. These points were stipulated in her last will and testament.

4 posted on 01/20/2014 4:54:30 AM PST by Liz
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To: Ann Archy

I am aware that Hanks is a lefty, and I have vowed to never see his films again several times. BUT, you have to admit that he is a terrific actor and able to portray a wide range of different characters believably, unlike many in Hollyweird who just play the same character over and over again. Hanks is outstanding in this particular film. You come away very sympathetic for the long-suffering Disney in his negotiations with Travers.

As a ‘lefty’, Hanks could have made Disney look like a right wing jerk, or worse, in subtle ways as the left loves to portray WD. Instead, you come away loving Disney and appreciating him as a hero.

5 posted on 01/20/2014 5:01:15 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Liz

Oh, do quote some of the other, more salacious, details of Travers’ life from Wiki. She was a very odd woman whose life was airbrushed in the film.

6 posted on 01/20/2014 5:05:13 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

I thought the movie was excellent, and a wonderful recreation of 1961 LA, using the original locations (a triumph in ever-changing LA). Hate to disagree with him in this one review.

7 posted on 01/20/2014 5:08:32 AM PST by Moonmad27 ("I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way." Jessica Rabbit)
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To: jocon307
I was surprised to see that Podhoretz wrote this review. I generally enjoy, agree with or at least respect his political opinions, but haven't previously read a movie review that he'd written.

For what it's worth, I've not seen either movie. Mary Poppins may be a classic, beloved film, but it just doesn't appeal to me. Could be that I'd love it, but I have no desire to invest the time to find out. On the other hand, my wife and I have been planning to see Saving Mr. Banks, despite our disappointment with Mr HANKS' liberal delusions.

One thing that stood out in the review was Mr. Podhoretz's slam on Disney movies of that era. Was he judging them in the context of the times, or comparing them with more modern movies? I saw quite a few Disney movies as a kid, and usually found them entertaining and/or just as well-made as anything else of the era.

Knocking The Shaggy Dog or The Absent-Minded Professor? Heck, even Old Yeller and Bambi taught me that it was ok to cry

Lighten up, John Podhoretz!

8 posted on 01/20/2014 5:08:45 AM PST by DJ Frisat ((optional, printed after my name on post))
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To: afraidfortherepublic
The studio’s forays into live-action filmmaking before Mary Poppins were mostly labored, obvious, and embarrassing: They included such cringe-inducing fare as Swiss Family Robinson (1960), The Shaggy Dog (1959), and The Absent-Minded Professor (1961).

I see John Podhoretz wasn't born until 1961, so he can't have seen those movies when they came out. I was a little kid, and remember going to all of those, and loved them. They were supposed to be silly, they were kids movies for God's sake, and they were commercially successful. To hear John tell it, Disney never did anything good before or after Mary Poppins. But Disney also dominated early television every Sunday night with The Wonderful World of Disney.

9 posted on 01/20/2014 5:09:19 AM PST by Hugin
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To: Moonmad27

I wish that the reviews would stop portraying this film as some light-hearted depiction of Disney films. It had a much more serious, poignent theme — the effect of alcoholism on innocent members of the family and others. And how it continues through the generations.

I read up on P.L. Travers who ended up having a very unhappy life. She basically disinherited her only child and left her money to to her daughter in law with a fixed allowance for her son.

It was only because of the grace, generosity, and perserverance of Mr. Disney that she had any money to leave at all.

10 posted on 01/20/2014 5:16:43 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Delightful is the word. Saw it yesterday afternoon and it was beautifully uncomfortable, resolving just as you would hope it would. Podhoretz is a curmudgeon.

11 posted on 01/20/2014 5:26:17 AM PST by jagusafr (the American Trinity (Liberty, In G0D We Trust, E Pluribus Unum))
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To: DJ Frisat

His review totally ignores the film’s powerful portrayal of her alcoholic father, It explain s much about her personality,

12 posted on 01/20/2014 5:36:19 AM PST by Dansong
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To: afraidfortherepublic

I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago. It is an example of superb movie making.

An excellent movie in every respect.

I like Podhoretz, but he’s off the mark here.

13 posted on 01/20/2014 5:40:13 AM PST by Skooz (Gabba Gabba we accept you we accept you one of us Gabba Gabba we accept you we accept you one of us)
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To: DJ Frisat
"could be that I'd love it"

I thought I might like it too when it appeared on tv a month or so ago. I hated it. And I used to like Disney flicks. Travers was right to protest the ruining of her book.

14 posted on 01/20/2014 5:42:04 AM PST by driftless2
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Is it ok to say that John Podhoretz is Jewish?

Without belaboring the obvious, this is the reason for this hit piece. Can’t blame him. But it is not an honest review, it is colored with Mr Podhoretz hatred for things antisemitic.

15 posted on 01/20/2014 5:46:28 AM PST by Vaquero (Don't pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Podhoretz has never had any business being a film reviewer. He’s completely incompetent at this job. And it’s not just because I, too, enjoyed this movie. He’s a bum of a movie critic. He’s just lucky hat he rode into journalism on the tailcoats of his father, Norman.

Having been to the Disney Studios (a relative worked there), I can tell you that is WAS heaven on earth. Every corridor is lined with the original art work of Disney and his genius artists. The grounds are gorgeous - and the canteen!

The 60s were a wonderful time for Disney entertainment. How dare he make fun of the Flubber movies! It was those movies that made Paul Lynde’s career (before he went off the rails, he was an hilarious actor). Disney brought British actors like Patrick McGoohan, Peter McEnery, Hayley Mills and Susan Hampshire to the American public in the 1960s.

He made Julie Andrews a star when another studio passed her over in favor of the wonderful but miscast Audrey Hepburn.

Mary Poppins, Pollyanna, the Flubber movies, The Jungle Book, 100 and 1 Dalmations! All created in the 60s.

This guy should be fired.

16 posted on 01/20/2014 5:47:35 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Vaquero

I know what you’re saying, Vaquero. I don’t know anything about Disney’s anti-Semitism (and how deep it was or how it affected anything in America) but he was an extraordinary artist and visionary who should be praised not destroyed.

I expect Meryl Streep will next step up to the plate. Gee, I guess we should be happy she wasn’t cast as PL Travers. Another opportunity for this actress to show her only real talent - mimicry.

17 posted on 01/20/2014 5:58:23 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Liz

Liz: did you know that Barnes & Noble stores will not sell PL Travers? This is because the returns of the books are enormous. Parents buy them thinking that they are just like the movie and then discover how unpleasant Ms. Poppins is! My parents bought me the books after I saw the movie - and I hated them, lol!

18 posted on 01/20/2014 6:01:50 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Walt Disney had more talent in his little finger than John Podhoretz will ever have. I have not seen the Saving Mr. Banks, but growing up almost every movie my parents took me to was a Disney movie. And I loved them.

I remember as a young boy seeing 101 Dalmatians, Swiss Family Robinson and The Absent Minded Professor at the movies and I loved them. I remember watching the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday night and loving that too. Disney's animation set the standard. His movies such as Fantasia are truly masterpieces.

In fact, I even liked Mary Poppins which my mom took me to see in the movies one afternoon. My wife used to kid me and say I must have been a real nerd to have liked Mary Poppins.

Walt Disney made great movies for kids. That was his talent. Just before and after his death, the studio he founded almost went bankrupt without Walt's guidance. For someone like John Podhoretz to call Walt Disney mediocre is ridiculous.

19 posted on 01/20/2014 6:12:16 AM PST by detective
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To: miss marmelstein

Like I said, I can’t blame the author. I am not in his position so I can only empathize from afar.
I use to shoot in matches with a friend who was a black conservative (he has since past). I emailed a ‘hit piece article’ to all my shooting club against the current _resident when he was running for office in ‘08. I got an EFFF YOU reply from him. He was not going to take anybody bad mouthing and preventing a black president from getting elected no mater if he was a MARXIST POS.

I understood from afar why he needed to vote for the guy. I still do. But it is no reason to vote for someone.

20 posted on 01/20/2014 6:15:31 AM PST by Vaquero (Don't pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.)
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