Part I: visual essay
1. Special thanks to Clay Steinman and Suzanne Sheber as well as the editors of Jump Cut for invaluable editing, advice and support on this project. In addition, thanks to the folks at
2. Valerie Lawson, Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1999, pp. 242-248, 254.
3. Lawson, pp. 244-255, 270-280.
4. Lawson, p. 242.
5. Jane Feuer, “The Self-Reflexive Musical and the Myth of Entertainment,” in Grant, Barry Keith, ed. Film Genre Reader II. Austin, University of Texas Press, 1995, pp. 441-455.
6. Feuer. [return to page 3]
7. A.O. Scott, “An Unbeliever in Disney World.” The New York Times, December 12, 2013.
8. Scott, “An Unbeliever.”
9. Lawson, p. 250.
10. Whereas the director of Saving Mr. Banks, John Lee Hancock, maintains that the reasons for Travers’ tears during the premiere screening are indeterminate, all the most credible sources, including co-screenwriter Kelly Marcel, agree that Travers cried because, as Marcel puts it, “she hated the film.” Sky MoviesHD, “Saving Mr. Banks Special with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson,”
11. Lawson, pp. 244-279, esp. 248, 254. [return to visual essay, p. 4]
Part II: critical essay
1. “Saving Mr. Banks (2013) Release Info.”
2. See, for example,
3. “CNN Money.”
4. Nicholas Sammond, Babes in Tomorrowland: Walt Disney and the Making of the American Child, 1930-1960. Durham, Duke University Press, 2005, p. 26.
5. A.O. Scott, “An Unbeliever in Disney World,” The New York Times, December 12, 2013.
6. James B. Stewart, DisneyWar. New York, Simon and Schuster, 2006; Brooks Barnes, “Roy E. Disney Dies at 79; Rejuvenated Animation,” The New York Times, Dec. 17, 2009.
7. Saving Mr. Banks. Dir. John Lee Hancock. Perf. Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson. Ch. 4, “All Aboard.” Disney, 2014. DVD.
8. Valerie Lawson, Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1999, esp. pp. 13-17.
9. Lawson reports that Travers often talked of an exchange in which Walt Disney claimed to know more about Mary Poppins than she did. Lawson, p. 250.
10. Sammond, esp. pp. 25-80.
11. Stewart, DisneyWar, esp. pp. 529-541.
12. Stephen M. Fjellman, Vinyl Leaves: Walt Disney World and America. Boulder, Westview Press, 1992, pp. 4-17, 25-33; Dick Hebdige, “Dis-gnosis: Disney and the Re-tooling of Knowledge, Art, Culture, Life, Etcetera.” In Mike Budd and Max Kirsch, eds. Rethinking Disney: Private Control, Public Dimensions. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2005, pp. 37-52.
13. Janet Wasko, Understanding Disney: The Manufacture of Fantasy. Cambridge, Polity, 2001, pp. 195-218.
14. The word was coined, or revived, by Stephen Colbert in the pilot episode of his satirical television program The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005.
Dick Meyer, “The Truth of Truthiness,” CBS News, December 12, 2006. Rpt. In “Truthiness,” Wikipedia.
15. Adriane Quinlan, “Wreck-It Disney? How the Animation Giant Stole Pixar’s Mojo,” The New Republic, Feb. 21, 2013.
16. Culhane, Shamus. Talking Animals and Other People: The Autobiography of a Legendary Animator. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986, pp. 113, 136, 141, 144-145, 149, 183, 236-240; Kinney, Jack. Walt Disney and Assorted Other Characters – An Unauthorized Account of the Early Years at Disney’s. New York: Harmony Books, 1998, pp. 9-42, 72, 109, 140-156, 158; Sito, Tom. Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson. The University of Kentucky Press, 2006, p. 111; Gabler, Neal. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. New York: Random House, 2006, p. 207; Norman, Floyd. Toon Tuesday: The Beatles were going to be " ... a flash in the pan"?! Or said Walt Disney. 26 September 2006.
17. Andrew Ross, No-Collar: The Humane Workplace and Its Hidden Costs. New York, Basic Books, 2003, pp. 123-160.
18. Ross, p. 144.
19. Lawrence Mishel, “The Wedges Between Productivity and Median Compensation Growth,” Issue Brief #330, Economic Policy Institute, April 26, 2012.
20. Wasko, Understanding Disney, 42.
21. Mekado Murphy, “Resurrecting His Master’s Mouse Voice: Walt Disney’s Voice Lives in New Mickey Mouse Cartoon,” The New York Times, November 26, 2013.
22. Sammond, p. 25.
23. Lawson, p. 252.
24. Saving Mr. Banks. Ch. 24, “End Credits”. DVD.
25. Colin Leys and Barbara Harriss-White, “Commodification: The Essence of our Time,”
28. Gary Burns, “A Typology of ‘Hooks’ in Popular Records,” Popular Music 6, 1, January 1987, pp. 1-20.
29. John Jurgenson, “’Let It Go’ and ‘Frozen’ Soundtrack Keep On Going,” Wall Street Journal,
30. “Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Blu-Ray Edition Detailed,” Blu-Ray.com.
31. Lawson, p. 250.
32. Douglas Gomery, “Disney’s Business History: A Reinterpretation.” In Eric Smoodin, Ed. Disney Discourse: Producing the Magic Kingdom. New York, Routledge, 1994, pp. 71-86, 238-240; Richard Schickel, The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968, 1985.
33. Schickel, esp. pp. 137-294.
34. Alan Bryman, Disney and His Worlds. London, Routlege, 1995.
35. Stewart, DisneyWar; Bryman, Disney and His Worlds; Devin Leonard, “How Disney Bought Lucasfilm – and Its Plans for Star Wars,” Bloomberg Businessweek, March 7, 2013.
36. Henry Giroux and Grace Pollock, The Mouse That Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence. Second Edition. Lanham, MD, Rowman and Littlefield, 2010.
37. Alan Bryman, The Disneyization of Society. London, Sage, 2004, p. 85.
38. For example, in a story about Disney’s 2013 patent applications for drones to fly over its theme parks, one local newspaper columnist writes: “But when you have drones at your command, wouldn't the next step be to link them with the MagicBands for pinpoint surveillance and targeted payload delivery?
I've got a hunch that Disney is pioneering what may end up becoming the way business is routinely conducted everywhere in the near future.
When we think of Big Brother, it's fears of an all-seeing, all-knowing big government intruding on our lives. But the real threat may actually be from Big Commerce, which has plenty to gain from keeping close tabs on our purchasing history and movements.
In a cashless world, where just a movement of a wrist band toward a sensor is all it takes for a completed purchase, it will never be easier to fall prey to the siren call of consumerism.” Frank Cerabino, “The Palm Beach Post, Florida, Frank Cerabino Column,” HispanicBusiness.com., August 26, 2014.
39. Anthony Lane, “Goings On About Town: Saving Mr. Banks,” The New Yorker, Jan. 20, 2014. http://www.newyorker.com/arts/events/
40. Anthony Lane, “Only Make Believe,” The New Yorker, Dec. 23 & 30, 2013, p. 131. Print.
41. Robbie Collin, “Saving Mr. Banks, review,” The Telegraph, Nov. 28, 2013.
42. Liam Lacey, “Saving Mr. Banks: Mary Poppins Author Gets the Disney Treatment,” The Globe and Mail, Dec. 13, 2013.
43. Stacy Warren, “Saying No to Disney: Disney’s Demise in Four American Cities,” pp. 231-260; and Lee Artz, “Monarchs, Monsters and Multiculturalism: Disney’s Menu for Global Hierarchy,” pp. 75-98, both in Budd and Kirsch, Rethinking Disney.
44. Thousand Oaks, CA, Pine Forge, 1993.
46. Manohla Dargis, “Dumped by Her Prince, So Watch Out.” The New York Times, May 29, 2014.
47. See for example Elizabeth Bell, Lynda Haas, and Laura Sells, eds., From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture. Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1995; Mia Adessa Towbin, Shelley A. Haddock, Toni Schindler Zimmerman, Lori K. Lund and Litsa Renee Tanner, “Images of Gender, Race, Age, and Sexual Orientation in Disney Feature-Length Animated Films,” Journal of Feminist Family Therapy 15, 4, 2004, pp. 19-44; Dargis, “Dumped.”
48. Rebecca Keegan, “Frozen, Get a Horse! female directors mark firsts for Disney,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 22, 2013.
49. Sean Griffin, Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out. New York: New York University Press, 2000; Sean Griffin, “Curiouser and Curiouser: Gay Days at the Disney Theme Parks,” in Budd and Kirsch, Rethinking Disney, pp. 125-150.
50. Griffin, Tinker Belles, p. 214.
51. See, for example, http://www.cracked.com/article_
52. Jason Sperb, Disney’s Most Notorious Film: Race, Convergence, and the Hidden Histories of ‘Song of the South.’ Austin, University of Texas Press, 2012. See also Christian Willis’s website:
53. Radha Jhappan and Daiva Stasiulis, “Anglophilia and the Discreet Charm of the English Voice in Disney’s Pocahontas Films,” in Budd and Kirsch, eds., Rethinking Disney, pp. 160, 170.
54. On Disney’s aggressive property development, see Warren, “Saying No to Disney,” in Budd and Kirsch, pp. 231-260. On Disney’s approach to copyright and the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, also known derisively as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, see Lawrence Lessig, “Copyright’s First Amendment,” 48 UCLA L. Rev. 1057, 1065, 2001; Martha Buskirk, “Commodification as Censor: Copyrights and Fair Use,” October 60, Spring 1992, pp. 82-109; Timothy B. Lee, “15 Years Ago, Congress Kept Mickey Mouse out of the public domain. Will they do it again?” October 25, 2013.
55. National Labor Committee, “An Appeal to Walt Disney,” in Andrew Ross, ed. No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade, and the Rights of Garment Workers. New York, Verso, 1997, pp. 95-112.
56. Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, “Wal-Mart and Disney Toys from Hell: Blocked Fire Exits in Another Dangerous Fire Trap,” Dec. 17, 2012.
57. Bruce Nissen, Eric Schutz, and Yue Zhang, “Walt Disney World’s Hidden Costs: The Impact of Disney’s Wage Structure on the Greater Orlando Area,” Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy, Center for Labor Research and Studies, Florida International University, Miami, 2007.
58. Nissen, Schutz and Zhang, p. 4.
59. Nissen, Schutz and Zhang, p. 2.
60. Nissen, Schutz and Zhang, pp. 10-12.
61. Reuters, “Disney World workers say they rely on handouts,” Moneycontrol.com, Dec. 1, 2010.
62. Liz Dwyer, “Homelessness in the Happiest Place on Earth: Disney World Workers Sleep in Motels,” Takepart, April 26, 2014.
63. David Damron and Aaron Deslatte, “Scott blocks paid sick-time vote in Orange, statewide,” The Orlando Sentinel, June 14, 2013.
64. Bennett Marcus, “Meryl Streep Slams Walt Disney, Celebrates Emma Thompson as a ‘Rabid, Man-Eating Feminist,’” Vanity Fair, January 8, 2014.
66. Gabler, esp. pp. 450-458; Watts, The Magic Kingdom; Marc Eliot, Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince. New York, Birch Lane Press, 1993.
67. Ramin Setoodeh, “Meryl Streep Blasts Walt Disney at National Board of Review Dinner,” Variety, Jan. 8, 2014.
68. Scott Feinberg, “Walt Disney’s Grandniece Agrees with Meryl Streep: He was ‘Racist,’” The Hollywood Reporter, Jan. 15, 2014.
71. Kirthana Ramisetti, “Tom Hanks, Carol Burnett, and Morgan Freeman top Forbes’ list of 2014’s Most Trustworthy Celebs,” New York Daily News, Feb. 12, 2014.
72. Regina A. Corso, “He Was Both Captain Phillips and Walt Disney and Tom Hanks is Also America’s Favorite Movie Star,” Jan. 10, 2014.
73. Colin Dwyer and Serri Graslie, “Break Out The Hanky: Tom’s Got It Out For Your Tearducts,” NPR Special Series: Men in America, August 4, 2014.
74. Fred Pfeil, “Getting up there with Tom: The politics of American ‘Nice,’” Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory: New Directions. New York, Columbia University Press, 2002, pp. 90-118.
75. Pfeil, p. 105.
76. However, when asked about his formula for success, Disney replied, “I suppose my formula might be: dream, diversify -- and never miss an angle.” M. Gordon, “Walt’s profit formula: dream, diversify, and never miss an angle.” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 4, 1958, pp. 1, 12.
77. Pfeil, 105-110.
78. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism. New York, Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 2-3.
79. Adam Liptak, “Justices, 5-4, Reject Campaign Spending Limit,” The New York Times, January 21, 2010.
80. For a sample of the legal and other commentary on the issue of corporate personhood, see “Corporate Personhood” on the website “Reclaim Democracy! Restoring Citizen Authority over Corporations.”
81. Editorial, “The Rights of Corporations,” The New York Times, September 21, 2009.
82. Philip Rucker, “Mitt Romney says ‘corporations are people’ at Iowa State Fair,” Washington Post, August 11, 2011.
83. David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson, The Classical Narrative Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
84. Bordwell, Staiger, and Thompson.
85. Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White, The Film Experience, An Introduction. Third Edition. Boston, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012, pp. 144-151.
86. Esther Leslie, Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant-Garde. New York, Verso, 2002, esp. pp. 200-218, 289-300; Richard Neupert, “Painting a Plausible World: Disney’s Color Prototypes,” in Eric Smoodin, ed., Disney Discourse: Producing the Magic Kingdom. New York, Routledge, 1994, pp. 106-117, 240-241.
87. These developments are relevant to recent reconsiderations of basic assumptions in film theory resulting from the technological change from photographic film to digital processes. Perhaps distinguishing live action as cinema from “alternatives” such as animation, documentary and experimental film needs to be rethought; perhaps animation is less marginal to cinema history than previously imagined. See Karen Beckman, “Animating Film Theory: An Introduction,” in Animating Film Theory. Durham, Duke University Press, 2014, pp. 1-22; Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MIT Press, 2002.
88. Sammond, esp. pp. 25-80.
89. In a more disciplined and aggressive way than other powerful corporations, Disney has consistently used access to its private archives to gain manuscript approval from authors and publishers, especially about works on Walt Disney:
Jon Wiener, “Murdered Ink,” The Nation, May 1, 1993, 743-750.
90. Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. New York, Free Press, 2005; The Corporation. Dir. Jennifer Abbott and Mark Achbar. Zeitgeist, 2005. DVD.
91. Lawson; Caitlin Flanagan, “Becoming Mary Poppins: P.L. Travers, Walt Disney, and the making of a myth,” The New Yorker, Dec. 19, 2005.
92. Gabler, 596.
93. Jeff Goldsmith, “Saving Mr. Banks Q&A [with Kelly Marcel],” The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith. December 24, 2013. App. minute 30:00.
94. Goldsmith, Q&A (with Marcel), app. minute 49:30.
95. For example, Marcel says, “I was relieved when [the script] sold to Disney, but also scared they would sanitize it.” Goldsmith, Q&A. App. minute 38:50.
98. Lawson, 85-139.
99. Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own. New York, Harcourt Brace & Co., 1989, p. 4.
100. Margy Rochlin, “Not Quite All Spoonfuls of Sugar: Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson Discuss Saving Mr. Banks.” The New York Times. Jan. 3, 2014.
101. Schickel, 349-351.
102. “Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.” Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” in Hannah Arendt, ed. Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York, Schocken, 1969, 255. [return to page 5 of critical essay]
103. “Saving Mr. Banks (2013) Release Info.”
104. The concept of structuring absence seems to have originated in the psychoanalytic work of Jacques Lacan. It was taken up by the Marxist theorist Louis Althusser, and then entered film studies through the influential study of the film Young Mr. Lincoln by the editors of the French film journal Cahiers du Cinema (Cinema Notebooks), published in English as A Collective Text by the Editors of Cahiers du Cinema, “John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln,” Screen 13, Autumn 1972, pp. 5-44.
Chuck Kleinhans, “Young Mr. Lincoln and ideological analysis: a reconsideration (with many asides),” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media. 55, Fall 2013, p. 2.
105. Lawson, 242-248, 254.
106. Eliot, 258; Lawson, 242.
109. Flanagan; Lawson, 272-276; Marcel confirms that, rather than having a cathartic experience at the premiere of Disney’s Mary Poppins, Travers “hated the film.” Jeff Goldsmith (2013), “Saving Mr. Banks Q&A [with Kelly Marcel],” The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith. December 24, 2013. (Approximately minute 45:00).
110. For further documentation of the extensive differences between Saving Mr. Banks and the best historical accounts, see “Saving Mr. Banks: Production: Historical Accuracy,” Wikipedia.
111. Lawson, 276.
112. Flanagan; Lawson, 269-280.
116. Ben Brantley, “Meddler on the Roof,” The New York Times, Nov. 17, 2006.
117. Lawson, 242, 244.
122. Goldsmith, Q&A (with Marcel), app. minute 12.
123. Goldsmith, Q&A (with Marcel), app. minute 26:20.
124. Goldsmith, Q&A (with Marcel), app. minute 39:00.
125. Scott, “An Unbeliever.”
126. And who is more likeable, who more able to manage the structural contradictions of Saving Mr. Banks, than Tom Hanks? In this odd interview response, he makes it sound like the Walt Disney Company was virtually forced to make the film. What he calls “straightforward” sounds on reflection like anything but straightforward.
127. Goldsmith, Q&A (with Marcel), app. minute 23:30.
128. Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, Duke University Press, 1991, pp. 1-54.
129. Jane Feuer, “The Self-Reflexive Musical and the Myth of Entertainment,” in Grant, Barry Keith, ed. Film Genre Reader II. Austin, University of Texas Press, 1995, pp. 441-455.