Friday, December 23, 2005

Never Be Cross or Cruel

Caitlin Flanagan has a piece on P. L. Travers in the recent New Yorker, found (for the moment, anyway) online here. Although I have doubts about nannies "as a force in American life," a premise than can resound only in the Conde Nast building and the women's pages of Salon.com, Flanagan thankfully forgets this opening thesis and instead cobbles together an assortment of intriguing facts about Travers and the Mary Poppinses of books and film. My favorite anecdote concerns Travers buttonholing Walt Disney at a party after the film's premier, and telling him that the animation sequence had to go. "'Pamela,' he replied, 'The ship has sailed.'"

I was one of those sixties kids who adored the movie and went on to love the book, too, even recognizing their distinctions. I'm dying to see the stage musical--any reports?

3 comments:

DesignBuff said...

I saw the London production of Mary Poppins. It was, as Julie Andrews noted, 'darker than the film.' More energy and attention devoted to Mary's magical powers. Mary is less saccharine; bordering on smug and self-satisfied.

The dishware comes to life. As does the entire set; theatrical alternative to animation.

Jane said...

I found the article fascinating. I knew Pamela Travers in two roles (other than her MP writing, which I had adored as a child, a great deal due to the fact that the main Banks child is named Jane.)

I wrote a lot of pieces--mostly poetry--for the first issues of PARABOLA, the magazine she began with Joseph Campbell. Got to meet her at various parties. Imperious--yes. But very knowledgable.

She was also godmother to a friend of mine, and when she was Writer in Residence at Smith, we went to one of her At Homes. It was hardly as described in the article. She was again imperious, ran the dicussions like a martinet, bristled when one Smith student said she hadn't read the books, but had seen the MP movie. "Then you have nothing to say," was PT's reply.

However, my husband and I were there with our new infant daughter, who began to whimper to be nursed. We rose to leave and PT insisted I go into her bedroom, sat me down on her rocking chair, covered me with a laprobe, and admonished "Now you are NOT to leave till that child has been happily fed."
Mary Poppins indeed.

Life Magazine was there photographing, and if you look at the pictures, one shows PT waving something around on her finger. It is my baby's teething ring.

Jane

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