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Saving Mr. Banks’ Anachronisms

The upcoming Disney sanctioned based-on-a-true-story movie SAVING MR. BANKS is a respectable little movie telling the somewhat interesting saga of bringing Mary Poppins to screen.

I’ve been known to be a Disneyphile of sorts, and honestly there are moments in the film that made me extremely giddy to see brought to life (especially the Sherman Brothers musical sequences).

That said, I squirmed in my seat at the number of on-screen anachronisms that even a Disney fan with a passing knowledge could pick up on.

At the risk of sounding like a mouse-eared perfectionist, here are just a few I caught…

P.L. AND THE BEAR

When P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) enters her room at the Beverly Hills hotel for her 10 day stay, she finds it filled with Disney merchandise, mostly in the form of plush character dolls.

At one point, she singles out the Winnie the Pooh doll and exclaims “poor AA Milne.”

It might have been a brilliant piece of improv by Thompson, and it certainly gets a laugh, but it was bad enough just to have the doll in the room.

The 10 days Travers stayed in Los Angeles to begin work and negotiations on the Disney Mary Poppins occurred in 1962.

Disney didn’t produce the first Winnie the Pooh cartoon until 1966.  Merchandising didn’t kick in (specifically the bear she picks up) until later.

THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS

Although there’s an impressive recreation of the original Burbank lot in the film, including this pictured sign for WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS, which was the name of the studio at the time.  Unfortunately there’s a clear shot of the current sign for THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY (as the company has been known since 1986) shown before the pan of the correct one.

NO SMOKING ALLOWED

Walt Disney smoked, but the studio doesn’t necessarily want you to see this.  They banned lit cigarettes in films in 2007, so you’ll not catch Tom Hanks chain-smoking like the real-life Uncle Walt did.

Interestingly, there is a short glimpse of Hanks’ Walt putting out a cigarette after Travers barges into his office unannounced.  Embarrassed, Disney explains that he doesn’t want children to see him smoke.  It’s somewhat true that he took caution in public.  It’s less believable in Saving Mr. Banks that he didn’t light up during scenes not involving kids.  Walt died in 1966 at 65 from lung cancer.

BABES IN FAIL-LAND


Upon arriving at Walt Disney Productions, Travers meets the creative team for Mary Poppins in front of a “closed set” scoring session for Babes in Toyland.

The scene takes place in 1962.  Babes in Toyland was released in theaters on December 14, 1961.  It’s unlikely they were still in post-production.

MARY POPPINS IN THE FUTURE

Shortly after the release of his adaptation of Mary Poppins, Walt flies out to surprise Travers in her London home.  The sequence at the end of the film is heartfelt and well written, tying together the main plot-line/back-story with a pretty bow.  It’s unlikely that it happened, however, as Travers and Disney stayed fairly at odds with each other even posthumously (exerting creative direction with Disney Theatrical Productions’ stage adaptation in the 90s).

Also at the end of the film is a nod to the next Travers Mary Poppins book.  It’s implied that the book is to be called Mary Poppins in the Kitchen, which wasn’t published until nearly 10 years later.

Of course, all of this criticism is neither here nor there, as Mary Poppins would probably say herself.

And it probably wouldn’t be fair to point these blunders out without noting that the original Mary Poppins is far from practically perfect in every way…

A ROBIN FEATHERING HIS NEST

Mary sings “a robin feathering his nest has very little time to rest…” but there are two robins feathering their nest shown, and they’re both male.  
Very progressive, Uncle Walt.
Also, check out the robin closer when it’s on her finger.  The story takes place in London, and that’s not an American Robin.  British Robins look quite different, indubitably.

SAVING MR. BANKS hits theaters this December 20th.

Look for the remastered MARY POPPINS on DVD/Blu-ray on December 10th for its 50th Anniversary.
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