Almost 50 years after Mary Poppins first charmed cinema audiences, Robert Stevenson’s magical film continues to cast a spell with its lively characters, heart-warming sentiment and hummable tunes.
Yet the colour-saturated fantasy, which won five Oscars, almost never materialised on the big screen.
Australian-born British novelist PL Travers, who penned the books, famously rebuffed Walt Disney’s efforts to purchase the rights for more than 20 years.
When she finally relented in 1961, Travers was granted script approval, and recordings of the meetings between the author, screenwriter Don DaGradi and songwriter brothers Richard and Robert Sherman reveal her resistance.
That infamous tug-of-war between the writer and Hollywood filmmaker is recreated in Saving Mr Banks, an elegant and witty comedy emboldened by tour-de-force performances from Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks.
When we first meet Travers (Thompson), she refuses to entertain the advances of Disney (Hanks).
Eventually, Travers flies to America but is unmoved by the re-imagining of her cherished text.
Something has to give and it is Disney who realises that if he is to win over the author, he must confront the ghosts of his own past.