SAVING MR. BANKS is the account of Walt Disney’s twenty-year pursuit of the film rights to P.L. Travers’ popular novel, Mary Poppins, and the testy partnership the upbeat filmmaker develops with the uptight author during the project’s pre-production in 1961.
Two-time Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks will essay the role of the legendary Disney (the first time the entrepreneur has ever been depicted in a dramatic film) alongside fellow double Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson in the role of the prickly novelist. Before actually signing away the book’s rights, Travers’ demands for contractual script and character control circumvent not only Disney’s vision for the film adaptation, but also those of the creative team of screenwriter Don DaGradi and sibling composers Richard and Robert Sherman, whose original score and song (Chim-Chim-Cher-ee) would go on to win Oscars® at the 1965 ceremonies (the film won five awards of its thirteen nominations).
When Travers travels from London to Hollywood in 1961 to finally discuss Disney’s desire to bring her beloved character to the motion picture screen (a quest he began in the 1940s as a promise to his two daughters), Disney meets a prim, uncompromising septuagenarian not only suspect of the impresario’s concept for the film, but a woman struggling with her own past. During her stay in California, Travers’ reflects back on her childhood in 1906 Australia, a trying time for her family which not only molded her aspirations to write, but one that also inspired the characters in her 1934 book.
None more so than the one person whom she loved and admired more than any other - her caring father, Travers Goff, a tormented banker who, before his untimely death that same year, instills the youngster with both affection and enlightenment (and would be the muse for the story’s patriarch, Mr. Banks, the sole character that the famous nanny comes to aide). While reluctant to grant Disney the film rights, Travers comes to realize that the acclaimed Hollywood storyteller has his own motives for wanting to make the film - which, like the author, hints at the relationship he shared with his own father in the early 20th Century Midwest.
Colin Farrell co-stars as Travers’ doting dad, Goff, along with British actress Ruth Wilson as his long-suffering wife, Margaret, and a screen newcomer - 11-year-old Aussie native Annie Buckley as the young, blossoming writer.
The cast also includes Emmy winner Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing," "The Cabin in the Woods") as screenwriter Don DaGradi; Jason Schwartzman ("Rushmore," "Moonrise Kingdom") and B.J. Novak ("NBC’s "The Office," "Inglorious Basterds") as the songwriting Sherman Brothers (Richard and Robert, respectively); and Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti ("Sideways," "Cinderella Man") as Ralph, the kindly limousine driver who escorts Travers during her two-week stay in Hollywood.
SAVING MR. BANKS will be directed by John Lee Hancock from an original screenplay by British writer-producer Kelly Marcel.
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