Most deleted scenes are superfluous or rough edges that were sacrificed for a smoother narrative. It’s the rare deleted scene from a movie that captures the entire story in a single sequence, but that’s exactly what exists for Saving Mr. Banks. Walt Disney’s decades-long courtship of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers to adapt her stories into the 1964 musical was belligerent and difficult, as Travers refused to sign over the rights for fear of seeing her heroine “cavorting and twinkling” like one of Disney’s cartoon creations. When Travers reluctantly travels to Los Angeles to meet Disney and his writers, they eventually – but barely – begin to win her over. Until she finds out about the dancing penguins.
Furious at the prospect of undignified animation, which Disney had specifically promised her would not be used, Travers (Emma Thompson) storms into Disney’s office, essentially calls him a liar, hands him the contract back – unsigned – and heads back to England. Disney ultimately follows her there for the climactic heart-to-heart… but there was another scene filmed that originally served as a bridge between these two crucial moments.
In the deleted scene, available on the Saving Mr. Banks Blu-ray, Disney (Tom Hanks) follows Travers outside, where she’s sitting on a bench waiting for her driver (Paul Giamatti) to take her home. Disney pleads for her to reconsider and help him understand why this process is so difficult for her. She chastises him again for his deception, and then blurts out, “The books weren’t written for the children. They were written for the promise breakers.”
Promise breakers, like Disney. Promise breakers, like Travers’ Aunt Ellie, who promised her everything would be okay when she came to help their crumbling family in the Australian Outback decades earlier. Promise breakers, like her beloved alcoholic father (Colin Farrell), who promised that he’d make his family proud again.
You can almost imagine the insightful scene was one of the first ones written – and the last one cut – because everything the audience needs to know is there. It captures everything. Perhaps that’s why it was nixed: the clues were ultimately deemed too concentrated in one place. Or perhaps the content and tension were too similar to the subsequent sit-down in London. Still, it’s a great scene that underscores Travers’ deep emotional attachment to her literary characters, and allows Thompson another opportunity to shine. Click below to watch:
Saving Mr. Banks arrives on Blu-ray on March 18.