Monday, December 23, 2013


P.L. Travers wrote a series of books published over the period 1934 to 1988 featuring Mary Poppins, a magical nanny to the children of Mr. and Mrs. George Banks.

Emma Thompson: middle-aged author Pamela “P.L.” Travers
Ronan Vibert: her agent Diarmuid Russell
Paul Giamatti: Pamela’s LA chauffeur Ralph
Tom Hanks: filmmaker and producer Walt Disney
Bradley Whitford: screenwriter Don DaGradi
B.J. Novak: songwriter Robert Sherman
Jason Schwartzman: his brother and associate Richard
Melanic Paxson: Walt’s secretary Dolly
Kathy Baker: Walt Disney studio executive Tommie
Colin Farrell: Australian banker Travers Goff
Ruth Wilson: his wife Margaret
Annie Bucklye: their eight-year-old daughter Helen aka Ginty

Getting a first-hand look at what transpired when production of the film version of the popular Mary Poppins novel first began is insightful. As expected, Emma Thompson is terrific with Tom Hanks and Colin Farrell putting in their usual splendid effort. Although it runs a little over two hours it needs all that time to tell the background story as well. As one movie-goer was heard to say “it’s an emotional journey well worth telling”.

Great attention to detail (except for the few items noted below) adds a sense of authenticity to this “mostly-true” version of what really happened. The actual tape recording played during the final credits attest to this as well.

for thematic elements including some unsettling images.

  • When Pamela is outside the Los Angeles airport one of the signs reads Trans World Airways. The correct name for TWA was Trans World Airlines.
  • Pamela uses the remote to turn on the television in her hotel room. The upscale Beverley Hills hotel would have used the latest control in 1961 with four oval buttons not one with two square buttons introduced ten years earlier.
  • Walt tells of the time as a young lad he delivered 500 newspapers both the morning and the evening editions, sometimes with snow up to his waist: in fact it would take 5 to 6 hours to deliver that many papers in a residential area and the record snowfall ever in Kansas City where he lived was just 24” back in 1911/1912, which would be up to his knees at best.
  • This is one of my classic all-time favourite nitpicks: at the end of the telephone conversation Walt hangs up and Pamela is left listening to the dial tone. In reality the dial tone is only heard after picking up the phone before dialling. That’s why it’s called a dial tone.

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