Saving Mr. Banks
Saving Mr. Banks poster
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Produced by Alison Owen
Ian Collie
Philip Steuer
Written by Kelly Marcel
Sue Smith

Emma Thompson
Tom Hanks
Paul Giamatti
Jason Schwartzman
Bradley Whitford
Colin Farrell

Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography John Schwartzman
Editing by Mark Livolsi
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release November 29, 2013
Running time 125 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $35 million
Gross revenue

Saving Mr. Banks is a 2013 American-British-Australian biographical comedy-drama film directed by John Lee Hancock from a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Centered on the production of the 1964 Walt Disney Studios film, Mary Poppins, the film stars Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks with supporting roles from Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, and Colin Farrell.

Taking its title from the patriarchal character of the same name, the film depicts author P. L. Travers (Thompson) and her two-week briefing in Los Angeles as she is persuaded by filmmaker Walt Disney (Hanks), in his attempts to obtain the screen rights to her novel.

Produced by Alison Owen for Walt Disney Pictures, in association with BBC Films and Essential Media, Saving Mr. Banks will be released theatrically in the United States on December 13, 2013 in limited release and in wide release on December 20.


In London in 1961, financially struggling author Pamela "P. L." Travers (Emma Thompson) reluctantly agrees to travel to Los Angeles to meet with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) at the urging of her agent Diarmuid Russell (Ronan Vibert). Disney has been courting Travers for 20 years, seeking to acquire the film rights to her Mary Poppins stories, on account of his daughters' request to make a film based on the character. Travers, however, has been extremely hesitant to allow Disney to adapt her creation to the screen because he is known primarily as a producer of animated films, which Travers openly disdains.

Her youth in Allora, Queensland in 1906 is depicted through flashbacks, and is shown to be the inspiration for much of Mary Poppins. Travers was very close to her handsome and charismatic father Travers Robert Goff (Colin Farrell), who fought a losing battle against alcoholism.

Upon her arrival in Los Angeles, Travers is disgusted by what she feels is the city’s unreality, as well as by the naïve optimism and intrusive friendliness of its inhabitants, personified by her assigned limo driver, Ralph (Paul Giamatti).

At the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Travers begins collaborating with the creative team assigned to develop Mary Poppins for the screen, screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), and music composers Richard and Robert Sherman (Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak respectively). She finds their presumptions and casual manners as highly improper, a view she also reciprocates on the jocular Disney upon meeting him in person.

Travers’ working relationship with the creative team is difficult from the outset, with her insistence that Mary Poppins is the enemy of sentiment and whimsy. Disney and his associates are puzzled by Travers’ disdain for fantasy, given the fantastical nature of the Mary Poppins story, as well as Travers’ own richly imaginative childhood existence. Travers has particular trouble with the team’s depiction of George Banks. Travers describes Banks’ characterization as completely off-base and leaves a session distraught. The team begins to grasp how deeply personal the Mary Poppins stories are to Travers, and how many of the work’s characters are directly inspired by Travers’ own past.

Travers' collaboration with the team continues, although she is increasingly disengaged as painful memories from her past numb her in the present. Seeking to find out what’s troubling her, Disney invites Travers to Disneyland, which—along with her progressive friendship with Ralph, the creative team’s revisions to George Banks, and the insertion of a new song to close the film—help to soften Travers. Her imagination begins to reawaken, and she engages enthusiastically with the creative team.

This progress is upended, however, when Travers discovers that an animation sequence is being planned for the film, a decision that she has been adamantly against accepting. She confronts and denounces a protesting Disney, angrily declaring that she will not sign over the film rights and returns to London. Disney discovers that Travers is writing under a pen name; her real name being Helen Goff. Equipped with new insight, he departs for London, determined to salvage the film. Appearing unexpectedly at Travers’ residence, Disney opens up—describing his own less-than-ideal childhood, while stressing the healing value of his art—and urges her to shed her deeply rooted disappointment with the world. Travers relents and grants him the film rights.

Three years later, in 1964, Mary Poppins is nearing its world premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Travers has not been invited because Disney fears that she will give the film negative publicity. Goaded by her agent, Travers returns to Los Angeles, showing up uninvited in Disney’s office, and finagles an invitation to the premiere. She watches Mary Poppins initially with scorn, reacting with particular dismay to the animated sequence. She slowly warms to the film, however, and is ultimately surprised to find herself overcome by emotion, touched by the depiction of George Banks’ redemption, which clearly possesses a powerful personal significance for her.


  • Emma Thompson as Pamela "P.L." Travers
  • Tom Hanks as Walt Disney
  • Paul Giamatti as Ralph, Travers
  • Jason Schwartzman as Richard M. Sherman
  • B. J. Novak as Robert B. Sherman
  • Bradley Whitford as Don DaGradi
  • Colin Farrell as Travers Robert Goff
  • Ruth Wilson as Margaret Goff
  • Melanie Paxson as Dolores Voght Scott-Dolly
  • Victoria Summer as Julie Andrews
  • Kristopher Kyer as Dick Van Dyke
  • Kathy Baker as Tommie
  • Rachel Griffiths as Aunt Ellie, Margaret's sister
  • Dendrie Taylor as Lillian Disney
  • Kimberly D'Armond as Nanny Katie, young Travers' childhood nanny

External links

Tom Hanks films

Forrest Gump (1994)  · Toy Story (1995)  · Saving Private Ryan (1998)  · You've Got Mail (1998)  · Toy Story 2 (1999)  · Toy Story 3 (2010)  · Captain Phillips (2013)  · Saving Mr. Banks (2013)  · Bridge of Spies (2015)  · Sully (2016)  ·

Emma Thompson films

Junior (1994)  · Love Actually (2003)  · Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)  · Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)  · Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)  · Men in Black 3 (2012)  · Brave (2012)  · Beautiful Creatures (2013)  · Saving Mr. Banks (2013)  · Men, Women & Children (2014)  · A Walk in the Woods (2015)  ·

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