Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The Real Story: P.L. Travers, Walt Disney, and the Inside Story of “Mary Poppins”

posted by Nell Minow


As “Saving Mr. Banks” shows, Walt Disney did really spend more than 20 years trying to persuade author P.L. Travers to let him make a movie from her story about the magical nanny, Mary Poppins. Many moments in the film are taken directly from the tape recordings Travers insisted on to document her disagreements with screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and the songwriting team, the Sherman Brothers (Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak). Travers did not like the movie. She would not allow a sequel and made it clear in her will that should a theatrical version be mounted, no American could control it.


Travers had a fuller and more fascinating life than this movie portrays.  She was an actress, poet, essayist, and critic.  She was enthralled by the work of the mystic G.I. Gurdjieff and studied with him and  she lived with Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo peoples to learn about their mythology and folklore. She never married.  She insisted on being called “Mrs. Travers,” as the movie shows, but Travers was her father’s first name.  In the movie, she does not answer a question about her family.  She did have romantic relationships with both men and women, and she adopted a son, selected according to the advice of her astrologer. He had a twin brother she chose not to adopt or even tell her son about until the brother came looking for him.


Her essays are collected in What the Bee Knows: Reflections on Myth, Symbol, and Story.  And her biography by Valerie Lawson is titled Out of the Sky She Came: The Life of P.L. Travers, Creator of Mary Poppins.


From a documentary about Travers:

YouTube Preview Image

For more about the Sherman brothers, see the excellent documentary about their partnership and estrangement.

YouTube Preview Image


Previous Posts

Olivia Gentile on the Best Grandparents in Movies
Olivia Gentile's terrific Grandparent Effect blog has an outstanding new list of the best movie grandparents. Some of the films are not for kids (or adults who don't like bad language) but all of them are terrific. I'd add to her list the ...

posted 11:13:22pm Dec. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Now You See Me 2
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0"] I loved the first one and can't wait to see this -- Daniel Radcliffe joins the group of magician/thieves in ...

posted 3:08:31pm Dec. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Rosa Parks Was Arrested 60 Years Ago Today
[youtube][/youtube] Today and every day we pay tribute to one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century, Rosa Parks, who would not give up her seat on the bus and fought all her life for equal ...

posted 9:23:51am Dec. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Coming to Theaters December 2015
December is always a blockbuster month at the movies, with big end-of-the-year releases opening in time for family viewing over the holidays and awards ...

posted 8:00:37am Dec. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Shepherd Frankel, Production Designer for "Ant-Man"
Shepherd Frankel is the production designer who created the world of "Ant-Man," the Marvel film about the teeny little superhero named Scott Lang and played by Paul Rudd. It will be released on DVD/Blu-Ray December 8, 2015. I loved the design of ...

posted 3:59:07pm Nov. 30, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.