However mean you think Mary Poppins was, the woman who created her gave the impression of being even meaner. And yet, to paraphrase Renoir, people always have their reasons.
Mrs. P.L. Travers, who stubbornly refused to be called by her first name, Pamela, insisted people refer to her as “Mrs. Travers,” although there was never a Mr. Travers, except for her father, whom we get glimpses of in flashbacks throughout the film. She had had enormous success with her books featuring the Mary Poppins character, and for some two decades, the entertainment tycoon, Walt Disney, had made overtures to get the rights to the story, to no avail.
Finally, in 1961, when she had little money left but her self-confidence was still remarkably sturdy, she showed the first bit of grace and left her cozy flat in London for a two-week experiment in Los Angeles, where she would decide whether or not Walt Disney would scar her vision by making it happy and sentimental. The journey would have remarkable consequences for multiple generations of moviegoers, but also for her (at least, in this film).
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(Still of Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks. Photo: © 2013 – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)