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« WDW Construction: Cinderella Castle | Main | WDW Construction: Contemporary Resort »
Wednesday
Jul312013

"Saving Mr. Banks" vs. the 1960s

I present side-by-side photo comparisons featuring images from the "Saving Mr. Banks" trailer(right) and images of people and places that inspired scenes from the movie (left). 

I found myself more and more anxiously for the December release of "Saving Mr. Banks" starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. The film takes place during the years leading up to and including the 1964 release of "Mary Poppins". How well did movie-makers recreate the period? 

In the trailer we see a persistent Walt Disney invite a reluctant P.L. Travers (author of the Mary Poppins children novels) to come with him to Disneyland. During filming last November, reproductions of various now-extinct props were temporarily added to parts of Disneyland. The classic oval "D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D" letters were added to the turnstyle rooftops. Attraction posters were added to the wall in front of the Floral Mickey and Railroad Station. And on the Railroad Station, a Santa Fe sign covering up the current sign.

Extras wore clothing from the era. And look... No new-school snow on Sleeping Beauty Castle (like many fans have been fearing).

Here we see a very close replica of Walt's office.

Walt's office (above left) displayed the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Photo by Michael Kane.

Back when the first images of production appeared online, I created and tweeted this photo comparison. It was quickly used by hundreds of movie and news sites. But the joke's on you, Hollywood! I mistakenly used the wrong Walt portrait. I later found the correct one (below). It appears they added a photo of Tom Hanks' head onto the photo of Walt Disney, keeping the same suit and background.

Emma Thompson plays P.L. Travers and pulls off the look rather well.

Robert and Richard Sherman are played by B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman.

This black-and-white television footage of Walt Disney interacting with an animated Tinkerbell is nicely recreated with Tom Hanks.

In the original footage, Walt is elevated towards the ceiling of his studio office with Pixie Dust but then is lowered to the ground once he brushes the dust off his suit jacket. Tom Hanks is also elevated until he brushes off the Pixie Dust in the same manner.

The Hollywood premiere of "Mary Poppins" is beautifully recreated. The exterior of Graumann's Chinese Theatre has changed a bit since 1964 but the feeling the premiere is captured beautifully.

How fun is it to see Walt's wife, Lillian, in the film as well (played by Dendrie Taylor).

From what little we've seen, how well do the actors capture the personalities of the people the depict? I say quite well. How well does the film capture the period? Very well. Are there post-1964 architecture and props visible in the Disneyland shots? Yes. Pinocchio's Daring Journey (opened in 1983) can be seen behind Tom Hanks while he's on the Carousel. But really, everything in the trailer feels right, in my opinion. No views of Tomorrowland '98! Overall, was 1960s Disneyland presented well? Absolutely. Will overly-picky fans find endless fault with the film? Most-likely. Will the film present a completely accurate version of the Walt–P.L story? Not likely. Will there be some creative and/or historical license taken? Duh. It's not a documentary. Will the film offer a charming, delightful, and nostalgic "based on" account of this true story? Let's hope so.

 

Related posts:

THEN AND NOWWalt at Disneyland
That's What Walt Said
Walt's Wife Talks About EPCOT Center
THEN AND NOW Photo Collection

 

Reader Comments (22)

Good thing the trees in the hub were replaced with shorter trees a few years back. Otherwise Sleeping Beauty Castle would have to been a CGI set piece.

Justin

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

This is a great post. The photos and commentary are well done and I am definitely more excited about this movie! I'm going to re watch the trailer now haha.

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

LOVED this post!

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMyra

What a beautiful post! As for your last question, I hope so too, and I'm pretty confident that I will indeed be charmed and delighted. I was thrilled by the trailer.

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Fantastic! Thanks for doing the comparison. I'm so excited for this movie! I shared your Facebook post on my Facebook site!

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMouse Ears Mom

Thanks for doing these comparisons. I have been excited but wary about this film since I heard about it, and as news and photos of the Disneyland filming surfaced. So many of my fears were laid to rest upon seeing the trailer- WOW! If the trailer is an accurate representation of the film, they got the focus of the film just right. Mary Poppins is a truly magical film, and a deeper story than you may understand watching as a child. I love how much of a love letter this new film seems to be, not only to Walt but to Mary Poppins and what was created. It certainly may not have been Mrs. Travers vision, but it is something really magical of it's own.

If the film is good I will be able to get over that Tom Hanks' hair doesn't even appear to be parted on the same side as Walt's.

August 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric

Does anyone else see the resemblance between Tom Hanks and Hitler in some of these pictures? I cannot see him as my beloved Walt Disney.

August 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPetunia

The trailer seems to capture vividly the essence of the early 1960's, early Disneyland, and Walt Disney, and I'm hopeful that will hold true for the film as a whole. The filmmakers seem to have taken pains with the details and, at least in the bits shown in the trailer, to have captured the essence of Walt Disney and P.L. Travers and their fraught, uneasy partnership. I have no expectation that actors playing historical figures will be exact replicas, since such a thing is impossible. If they can capture the essence of the physical appearance and of the personality, then I'm impressed (think Helen Mirren as the Queen or Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain). I'm also one who, though he finds Walt Disney to be an interesting historical figure, has never made the leap into viewing him or his company in fetishistic or quasi-religious terms. I suppose that makes me the perfect audience for this film. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing it. (I do wonder how accurately they'll portray Walt Disney's chain smoking and his frequent imbibing of Scotch.)

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I was able to see a sneak-peek of this film last spring in Pasadena. Being one of those picky fans, I was rather impressed by the production, and pleased to see the depiction of Walt Disney.

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

"Saving Mr. Banks" is a Hollywood biopic/history, not a documentary.

The very fact that there is an extended sequence where Walt and Travers go to Disneyland together (this, of course, never happened) is a big clue to the tenor of the story's authenticity. It appears to be a handsome, well-produced, and highly-fictionalized film "inspired by the true story." (Think of it as a Disney version of "My Week with Marilyn.")

It rests on a fully fictional premise that the notion of the George Banks character being given the actual "lead role" in "Mary Poppins" (he is the only character with a story arc) is brought to Walt and the Disney team, after tortured creative conflict, by Pamela Travers. Those who have studied the history of this project know that it was the Sherman Brothers who realized that the "absent father" was the core of the story and, with Don DaGradi, used that idea to create a narrative through-line where none existed in the original, highly-anecdotal book.

Disney fans should go, and enjoy, what looks to be a highly-entertaining film, but on the merits of a creative fiction or docudrama--not a documentary.

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Kurtti

Even documentaries are, to a large degree, fiction. This is not a documentary yet... the Disney archive tapes of the time the Shermans spent with Travers evidently, repeatedly, point to her defense of the (her) father as a good man. Argo was amiss with major changes and inaccuracies and yet was a good film and was rewarded.

For what it's worth.

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterstingaree

Like Jeff Kurtti, I feel that interested viewers should be aware that the structure of the film Mary Poppins was not influenced by anything to do with Travers' own father and – in "saving Mr Banks" (curiously, a non-Sherman Bros lyric from the stage musical) – Walt & Co were never intending to help PLT 'save' her father in memory. No one involved with the film – and only a handful of people who knew her for the remainder of her long life – were aware of anything about her childhood or, indeed, many (if any) accurate details about her family and private life.

"The film of Mary Poppins," PLT once wrote to me, "with all its glamour and splendours and the devoted energy of its cast, has been a tremendous success. But if we are comparing book and film, the sea-change is also tremendous." Inevitably, the same can no doubt be said when comparing this movie with history...

One question: with so much evident attention to detail, where did Tom Hank's accent come from? Surely not that same rouge dialect coach who schooled Dick Van Dyke in Cockney?!

And one curious thing (just to show that I can nit-pick with the best of them): how come in recreating the famous publicity of photo of Walt against the montage of Disney character heads, did Tom H's hair get parted on the wrong side....?

August 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Sibley

Tom looks like Mr. Banks instead of Walt. If there were a reboot of Mary Poppins, he should be cast as Mr. Banks. Anyway, I'll watch Saving Mr. Banks because it looks intriguing.

August 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShantel

I guess it's the typical Hollywood practice -- a story is created where none existed before in order to create entertainment and intrigue. There's nothing wrong with artistic license, (it made Mary Poppins into a very successful film), though I can understand one's reservations applying it to real people. Perhaps the real story here is not Tom Hanks, er... Walt Disney, or P.L. Travers but the creative world that surrounded Walt Disney and his talented staff during that era. It's that aspect that seems to show through in the trailers and I think it is that snapshot of a special time that is going to resonate with viewers.

August 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOmnispace

Great article Mitch! When I first heard about this movie, I admit I got really nervous. Mary Poppins is at the top of my list of the greatest full length films Walt Disney ever created mostly because of its powerful message often missed by viewers. And Tom Hanks as Walt Disney? I was nervous.

However, I admit after watching the preview I am now really intrigued. While they clearly took some serious liberties here, the FEELING of this new movie seems to match the message of the 1964 Mary Poppins film. It all comes down to feeding the birds, right? And how it often only takes tuppence (very little) to care for the most important people of our lives if we will only take the time to notice. If people walk away from Saving Mr Banks with a better understanding of one of my favorite films, I think I will be happy. So, yes, I'll be seeing it opening night.

What I'm really wondering about is if they are going to portray Julie Andrews' role in helping the Sherman brothers understand Mary Poppins and her message, since in my mind she really played a major role and even gracefully cut one of the Sherman brothers' songs from the film since it did not fit who Mary Poppins was very well. And the jury is out on how Victoria Summer will do as Julie Andrews, although she looks a lot like her. I also really hope they throw in the story about using Jane Darwell as the bird woman, but I think my expectations are already getting a little too high. :)

August 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLilly

Is it just me or does Tom Hanks look more like Hitler in those shots than he does Walt Disney?

August 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin Englesmith

Am I the only one a little frightened by the recreation of the 1960s era character costumes in the premier scene? Theres just something unnatural about them...

August 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTommyHagen

No actor is ever going to capture the look, sound, and physicality of an individual like Walt Disney perfectly, at least not without coming dangerously close to parody. From what I've seen, it looks like Hanks is going to do a good job representing what Walt represented in the world of Hollywood storytelling at the time, and I think I'm going to enjoy watching him do it.

August 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Well, before I saw Michael Barrier's post - quoting Floyd Norman - I was not feeling good about this. But take a look:
http://www.michaelbarrier.com/index.html
Now I'm actually looking forward to this movie (although Hanks' dialect still bugs me).

August 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn R.

Interesting very much. The film can to have nominations and awards in category art direction and costume. Also the actors of course. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are an excellent couple of talent.

August 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

Oooh, how wonderful. Loved, loved the photos. I have always been fascinated by the story of this picture being made, so I'm looking forward to this movie.

August 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I had to revisit this post now that I've seen the film. All I can say was that it was fantastic. Terrific performances. Oscar-worthy. I'm not sure any other actor could have portrayed Walt as well as Tom Hanks did. The film did a great job of transporting me back to the 60's, and brought up many fond memories of Walt Disney on TV and the memories of seeing Mary Poppins on the big screen for the first time. Well Done.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark D

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