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12 Things Disney's "Mary Poppins" Got Completely Wrong

Now that Disney is releasing a new Mary Poppins biopic, let's take a look at how much they butchered the books back in 1964.

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1. Mary Poppins is cheerful.


P.L. Travers' original book, Mary Poppins, published in 1934, featured a stern and cross characterization of the title character. Less spoonfuls of sugar and way more medicine going down. Travers, who originally approved of the casting of Julie Andrews, was upset to see Disney portray her as a smiling, cheery nanny when she was meant to be a mysterious and intimidating figure.


4. Mary is pretty.


Okay, when you cast Julie Andrews you know you are getting a beautiful actress, but P.L. Travers was put out by the fact that her Mary Poppins was supposed to be really ugly, and yet, entirely vain.

5. Bert is a chimney sweep.


False. In the books he held a few jobs, including a screever and a "Matchman". The Sweep was actually a completely different character. Dick Van Dyke must have just looked really good in soot.


7. Mrs. Banks is a suffragette.


The Sherman Brothers, who wrote the score for the film, came up with the idea to make Mrs. Banks a suffragette in order to explain why she was such a neglectful, crappy mother. In fact, in the film, Mrs. Banks and Mary Poppins never speak once.

9. Mary and Bert's romantic relationship.


P.L. Travers was insistent that Disney remove any hints of a romance between Mary and Bert because they were only BFFs in the books. Thus, the song "Jolly Holiday" was written. It features explicit friendzoning lyrics. But if you actually watch the movie, you realize their romance, while subtle, is totally obvious.

10. Mary is magical for no reason.


In the film, Mary Poppins has a magic that she sort of denies. She doesn't have an origin story. In the books, it's explained that Mary is the "Great Exception," meaning she is the only adult human who has retained the magic everyone has at infancy. That's why she can talk to animals and her umbrella.


11. The missing boy servant.


In the books, there are three hired servants. In the film, only the maid and the cook appear. The missing one is a young teenage boy named Robertson Ay, who is depicted as a foolish jack of all trades. I guess lazy boy servants aren't very Disney.

When P.L. Travers saw the finished product:


Reportedly, P.L. Travers left the premiere of the film in tears, panning the film for its friendly characterization of Mary Poppins, distasteful animated scenes, and "anti-feminist" ending. She vowed never to sell the film rights to any of her books again. She never did.

But that didn't stop Disney from making a movie about the whole P.L. Travers fiasco.


Saving Mr. Banks , starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, comes out in December 2013. P.L. Travers is rolling in her grave.

Watch the full trailer here:

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