Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reel People: Tom Hanks is Walt Disney

The film is Saving Mr. Banks. Saving Mr. Banks is directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blindside), with a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith.

Walter Elias Disney

Walter Elias Disney was born December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. Walt was the fourth son of Elias and Flora Call Disney. His parents would have their fifth child, a daughter named Ruth. Ruth was born the day after Walt turned two.

In 1906, Walt's family moved to Marceline, Missouri where the family had purchased farm land. Four years later, in 1911, Walt would move with his family to Kansas City. Interested in art he would take Saturday courses at the Kansas City Art Institute.

In 1917, Walt's father Elias moved his family back to Chicago. He took art classes from the University of Chicago and wrote political cartoons for the school newspaper for a short while before dropping out of high school to try to join the Army during World War I. The army rejected Walter due to his age and instead he and a friend joined the Red Cross where he was sent to France and was an ambulance driver.

After the army, Walt returned to Kansas City instead of Chicago where his parents lived. His brother Roy worked at a local bank and helped connected Walter to a client who worked for an ad agency, Posman-Rubin. Walt would at this time meet Ub Iwerks, a commercial artist. That would briefly have their own company Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artist, which would last only about a month before he moved to the Kansas City Film Ad Company.

Walt Disney recruited Fred Harman and the two began making animated films at Disney's new studio Laugh-o-gram which aired in the Kansas City area. He started the company in 1921 and brought on a number of animators, but the company would go bankrupt in 1923. Disney decided to move to Hollywood, California with the money he made from the sale of his video camera.

Walt Disney and Roy Disney pooled their money together to an animation studio in Hollywood, with there first product being a short-series called the Alice Comedies. The company was founded as the Disney Brother Studios in 1923.

In 1925 Walt Disney would marry, Lillian Disney a secretary in the ink and paint department at Disney Studios.

As the Disney Brother's Studios expanded they were able to rehire much of the Kansas City staff and yet ran into a challenge after creating a successful character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 1927. Universal Studios maintained distribution rights for Oswald, and although Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created the character, Universal cut the rate Disney was paid and pulled many of the Disney Borhter's Studio employees to be a part of the Universal staff.

Losing the rights to Oswald, Iwerks and Disney created Mickey Mouse (originally Mortimer Mouse). Iwerks did all the drawing and Disney provided the voice of the character (through 1947). In addition to the early Mickey Mouse films, they would also create Silly Symphonies in 1929. Silly Symphonies was not as successful as Mickey Mouse, but there was a lot of competition in the industry and the studios were quick to sign and drop deals.

In 1932 Walt Disney would earn a special academy award for his creation of Mickey Mouse.

During the 1930s Walt and Lillian would have a child, Diane Marie Disney (born in 1933), and adopt Sharon Mae Disney (born New Year's Eve 1936). The Mickey Mouse cartoons would also add supporting characters, Donald, Goofy and Pluto as well as add color to the series. Disney's biggest competition during this time was Max Fletcher who's Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons were very popular.

Walt Disney began an imbitious project during this time to make the first feature length animated film which nearly bankrupt the Disney Brother's studios, but resulted in the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by RKO in 1938. Incredibly popular, Snow White became the highest grossing film of 1938. For his work, Disney also one an honory Oscar (actually 1 big Oscar and seven miniature Oscars).

With the revenue from Snow White, Walt Disney Studios would open up a new site in Burbank and release Pinnochio, Fantasia, and Dumbo. Non which had the same success as Snow White. They continued to make short cartoons, as well as educational work at Disney, and post-war saved up enough money to produce Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.

In the late 1940s Walt Disney began drawing sketches for Disneyland. Disneyland would eventually open July 17, 1955 with a live TV preview co-hosted by Ronald Reagan, Bob Cummings and Art Linkletter.

Also during this time, Disney began producing live-action films. There first was Treasure Island in 1950, and would be followed up with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 1954. They also began airing specials on ABC with the TV show Disneyland, which would later change it's name to a series of other names including Walt Disney Presents, and The Wonderful World of Disney. The Mickey Mouse Club House began in 1955 where Walt Disney returned to be the voice in the series.

The 1960s offered a continued successful rise for Disney and his studio, including Walt Disney as the head of pageantry at the 1960 Olympics, the acquisition of P.L. Traver's Mary Poppins and the successful release of the film.

In 1965 Disney released his vision for the Magic Kingdom featuring the Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow (EPCOT).  

In the fall of 1966 was scheduled to undergo a surgery from a neck injury, but pre-operative x-rays showed a tumor on his left lung. The lung was removed, but on December 15, Walt Disney died of accute circulatory collapse caused by the lung cancer.

Roy Disney would continue the Florida project and rename it Walt Disney World in his brother's honor.

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is the firm biographical film to portray Walt Disney and focuses on the production of the 1964 film Mary Poppins, include P.L Travers life in Queensland Australia and the 1961 negotiations.

In addition to Tom Hanks playing the part of Walt Disney, the film co-stars Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. Paul Giamatti plays Ralph (Traver's chauffer), Jason Schwartzman & B.J Novak play composer brothers  Richard and Robert B. Sherman, Colin Farrel plays Taver's father, with Ruth Wilson playing the part of her mother. Other cast includes Kathy Bates, Bradley Whitford, Victoria Summer, and Rachel Griffiths.

Will two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks receive another nomination, perhaps even a third Oscar win for his performance as this multiple-Oscar winning Reel (Real) Person?

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