Letter to the Editor: Walt Disney would never have made ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

OPINION LETTER TO THE EDITOR – Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen Saving Mr. Banks, you might not want to read this review and perspective.

First, I found the movie “Saving Mr. Banks,” produced by the Walt Disney Company and BBC Films, delightful; but also a travesty.

The making of this movie, especially by the Walt Disney Company, is further evidence of our society’s loss of ethical and moral behavior by our modern capitalistic corporate society.

The original movie, “Marry Poppins,” was released just five years before the death of Walt Disney, who died in 1966. Walt spent over twenty years in obtaining the rights to this book, and personally negotiated a hard fought deal with P. L. Travers; the author of several books associated with that character. Walt spent a fortune gaining those rights, because of a promise he made to his daughter.

During Walt’s difficult and extensive negotiation with Travers, as portrayed in Savings Mr. Banks, he promised that her father would be portrayed in his film only as the mythical wonderful gentleman as she had portrayed in her books. This was the “smoking gun” for the rights of bringing Marry Poppins to the movie screen; and in the Movie, is the key scene portrayed in the final capitulation by Travers to release the literary rights to Walt.

In less than fifty years after the death of Walt Disney, and only eighteen years after Travers’ passing, the Walt Disney Company threw out all moral and ethical considerations, and produced a movie that portrays her father as an alcoholic worthless dying bum, as the subtitle to portraying the negotiation.

I believe if Walt Disney was alive today, the film “Saving Mr. Banks” would have never been made; because of his commitment and respect for P. L. Travers. I believe Travers would be mortified at the portrayal of her family, which she strived so hard to keep hidden.

This begs the question; do we always want to see behind the curtain, at any costs? Are commitments of our past generations, worth any moral or ethical value today? Does this behavior teach the next generation, a new distractive code of ethics acceptable in America?

I did not know the background of this movie before viewing it; and now wish I had not contributed my tuppence to the profits of the Walt Disney Company. Whenever I think of the Mary Poppins movie in the future, I will always have an opposing view of the whimsical emotions I once felt as a child of such an epic production. I also now carry a negative view of the Walt Disney Company, contrary to the traditions I’m sure Walt wanted passed down in his legacy. My own spoon full of sugar is a little bitter towards the contemporary Disney brand.

The Walt Disney Company isn’t the first to transform a great heritage. One only needs look at the dynasty left by Sam Walton, who wanted American Made products sold in his store at the lowest possible price. Today, it’s estimated over ninety percent of Wal-Mart’s goods are now made in foreign countries, not by the hands and machinery of Americans. But Americans are ecstatic at the even lower prices; much like our thrill for the entertainment value watching “Savings Mr. Banks.”

The Millennial generation might laugh and scoff at such an analysis, but what would our forefathers think? How would Sam Walton, Walt Disney, and P. L. Travers view the legacy they built, judged by the morals and ethical values their inheritor’s live by today? I don’t believe they would see this as progress, but rather a walkway from the honest and truthful core values they exemplified.

By David E Whipple 1-18-2014

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Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.


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  • Maudie Fricker January 19, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Alcoholic, yes. Worthless, no. Look what he inspired his daughter to do. That was his worth.

  • Dan Lester January 19, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Ahhhh, yes, I wish everything was still the same as when I was a kid in the 40s. Snore
    But this is the real world.

  • Sue January 19, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Unfortunately you missed the point of the whole movie. She never tried to keep her past hidden. She blamed herself for everything that happened in her youth. She was inspired by her father and that inspired her books. It was not until she released the book rights to Walt Disney and the movie was made that she was able to forgive herself for not being able to save her father. You might want to look a little deeper within the story instead of making a superficial erroneous assessment.

  • skip2maloo January 19, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Sad to learn that Mr. Whipple has lost his innocence because of a movie about another movie that, apparently til now, had sustained it. Maybe try to reconcile the two, a process commonly known as growing up.

  • fred January 19, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Might want to check your facts.

    Mary (not “Marry”) Poppins was released in 1964. Two years before Disney’s death. Not five.

    • San January 20, 2014 at 8:45 am

      I had the same thought! If you are going to rant, rant with spellcheck. 🙂

      Also a note about Walt Disney, just an observation from the cheap seats…he didn’t produce movies that showed women as empowered. In EVERY single iconic Disney cartoon, the mother figure is inexplicably gone or has been killed off. The women are subjected to disrespect and hatred (Snow White), imprisonment (Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast) or are portrayed as sadistic villains (Snow White, Cinderella, Dalmatians). Walt Disney did not like women. JMHO

      • woody January 20, 2014 at 11:13 am

        San get your facts right before you say Walt Disney didn’t like women. He love the women in his life. Mary Blair and Alice Davis are just two he loved and I can name more. As far as in his movies he didn’t disrespect women. I think your looking into it too deep. I have spoke to people who knew Walt Disney and he loved women.

  • Tracie January 19, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Yeah, who wants a movie that portrays people as the flawed, imperfect beings we all actually are?

    This movie isn’t about Travers’ father. It’s about Travers and Disney. It’s about the love and dedication Travers had for her father, and Disney’s need to fulfill his promise to his daughters– that he bring Mary Poppins to the big screen. Seems like a good lesson in dedication to one’s loved ones to me.

    This movie doesn’t diminish them in any way by it’s portrayals. To me it’s much more dishonest and unethical to portray people as flawless when certainly no one is.

  • chris January 19, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    We must have been watching different movies. I did not see her father portrayed as an “alcoholic worthless dying bum”. I saw a sweet loving man, with an awful sickness, who fought to overcome it, (in a time where alcoholism was not understood). She LOVED her father, flawed or not, and I felt THAT was the moral of the story. I saw this a a story about family. The driver and his little girl Jane, Walt and his daughters, and of course Ms Travers and her parents (AND Mary Poppins!!). This was not about cashing in on the great movie Mary Poppins, but telling a great background story.

  • Casey January 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    I am not sure what interaction with or personal knowledge of Mr. Disney that Mr. Whipper might have. As a former member of the Disney animation staff, I am confident that Mr. Disney would be delighted that the film made by the studio has brought joy, discussion, speculation and a bit of controversy to those who have seen it…

    • Paul Jensen January 19, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      Mr. Disney? I thought everyone who worked for him knew him as Walt and that he was never called Mr. Disney.

  • bub January 19, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Times be a changin’ old timer.

  • Susan January 19, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Wow … Did we watch the same movie? It was a great film!

  • taylor January 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Did you even watch the movie? Also.. this is 2014 not 1940. We do not stick our collective heads in the sand and pretend everything is like a Mary Poppins movie. I believe that this movie gives us viewers a wide eyed perspective of what it was truely like. I think Walt Disney and the like would be fairly impressed especially with the cast. Perhaps the narrow mindedness is typical for you to slam a movie with a one sided and long winded narrative of everything everyone else has done wrong. Everything. Grow some perspective while you are at it get out a little more.

  • woody January 20, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Wow you must have watched a different movie. Her father loved her and worked hard for her is what I saw. Was he perfect? No, he had struggles like all of us, his just happened to be alcohol. You can’t ever say what Walt would have done. He’s not here and times change. I thought it was a great movie. It showed how if you work hard you can accomplish much. Plus all the facts in the movie were not correct, but it was a movie. Walt Disney was not even in town while Travers was at the studios. He was in New York. It was a fun movie!

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