Opera House Series To Screen ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

FREDONIA – The 1891 Fredonia Opera House Cinema Series will present “Saving Mr. Banks,” the Oscar-nominated film starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson as Walt Disney and “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers, on Saturday, Feb. 1, and Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m.

Oscar-nominated for Best Original Score, “Saving Mr. Banks” tells the extraordinary, untold back-story of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen. When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise – one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep.

In his quest to obtain the rights, Disney comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the book stops selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation. For those two short weeks in 1961, Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt Travers, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.

Steven Rea, in the Philadelphia Inquirer, calls the film “smart and delightful.” Claudia Puig, in USA Today, calls it “an entertaining, affecting, deftly acted saga, interspersed with illustrative flashbacks from Travers’ childhood.” Moira MacDonald, in the Seattle Times, says “nobody plays huffy like Thompson, who seems to sniff with her entire body; she’s wonderfully funny against Hanks’ effusive Disney.” Scott Foundas, in Variety, says “somewhere, Uncle Walt is smiling.” Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including some unsettling images, “Saving Mr. Banks” runs 125 minutes.

The Opera House Cinema Series is sponsored by Lake Shore Savings Bank. Tickets are available at the door for $7 (adults), $6.50 (seniors and Opera House members) and $5 (students) the night of each screening. A book of 10 movie passes is available for $60 at the door or online at www.fredopera.org. For more information, call the Opera House Box Office at 679-1891. The series continues with the Oscar-nominated “American Hustle” on Feb. 8 and Feb. 11.

The 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported nonprofit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.fredopera.org.