George Banks, more commonly known as "Mr. Banks", is the main anti-hero from the 1964 film Mary Poppins, portrayed by David Tomlinson. He is similar in character to George Darling from the movie Peter Pan, and was inspired by P.L. Travers' own father, himself a strict, no-nonsense banker.
George Banks is a junior officer in one of London's banks. According to dialogue, he has worked there for many years. It is also mentioned that his father (thus Jane and Michael's paternal grandfather), had worked at the same bank.
George believes that his family should be run like a bank, making the family efficient, but also making him a distant husband and father. He's not really considered to be an evil person, but he is a stern, practical man, and initially believes that his children (and all children of the time in general for that matter) should be prepared for adult life in their youth, rather than allowed to have fun, as he believe having fun is "ridiculous". He also callously dismisses the "Votes for Women" movement that his wife is involved in, as her cause makes him furious. However, after the events of the film, he changes and becomes a much more caring and devoted family man.
According to the Special Edition Soundtrack Bonus Disc, it was originally intended that the script hint in several places that Mary Poppins was George's nanny when he was a child. However, this seems to have been largely left out of the film.
Role in film
George Banks is initially seen at the beginning of the film walking home from work. He runs into Katie Nanna on his way in, but does not know she has quit. After his introductory song, which reveals his opinions on how a family of his day must be led, he realizes that Jane and Michael are missing and thus takes matters into his own hands. As he is calling the police, Constable Jones brings the children home; they had become separated from Katie Nanna while having trouble with their kite. He tells Ellen to take the children to the nursery (term used in those days to refer to the children's quarters), and declares that he intends to discuss the matter with Katie Nanna, only to find out that she had quit due to the children's seeming unruliness, enraging him.
Noting that his wife's choices for a nanny have failed for a quarter of a year, he decides that he will select the next person himself. He drafts an advertisement, calling for a strict nanny who "can give commands" and "mold the breed". Jane and Michael come with their own advertisement, calling for a kind nanny who will play with them, sing songs, be very beautiful, and give them rewards for being good. Mr. Banks politely dismisses his kids and when they are not looking; he tears up the advertisement and throws it in the house firepit before lighting the firepit for the night.
The next day, he prepares to interview the nanny applicants. However, the only applicant is Mary Poppins, who mysteriously has the advertisement that Jane and Michael had written. While Mary Poppins discusses her hiring with Mr. Banks, Mr. Banks himself is so confused about the recovery of the advertisement that he mumbles to acknowledge her as he looks in the rubble in the firepit; as a running gag everytime somebody asks him something or comes next to him he hits his head on the firepit roof. When he mumbles during his look at the firepit; he unintentionally mumbles out a "Yes" when Mary Poppins asks if she can have the job; thus unwittingly hiring her.
The next morning, Mr. Banks is puzzled by the unusual cheerfulness of the rest of the household, and is rather annoyed by it, as he expects everyone to be more practical and less noisy. He is accused of being out of sorts by his wife, which infuriates him, and he storms out the door to work. That night, he becomes worried by his children's outrageous tales of their adventures with Mary. He asks to speak to Mary Poppins, and dialogue from Ellen and Mrs. Brill suggest that he is preparing to fire her. However, Mary Poppins turns the discussion around in her and the kids' favor, and is able to make him believe that he has suggested that he take the children to the bank where he is employed. Mr. Banks is pleased with the idea, as he believes that it will help the children to be more practical.
The next morning, Mr. Banks walks with his children to the bank. On the way, the children see the Bird Woman, whom Mary Poppins had told them about the night before. They ask permission from their dad to feed the birds, but the practical Mr. Banks angrily refuses, believing it to be a waste of money and time, and he suggests what he believes to be a better way. At the bank, he introduces the children to his bosses: Mr. Dawes Sr and Jr. Alongside the other officers, Mr. Banks attempt to convince Michael to deposit his tuppence into the bank by telling them about the world of finance and what he can do with all the money he can accumulate in a bank account of his own. Michael of course refuses and says he wants to donate to the Bird Woman, but Mr. Dawes, Sr, find an opportunity, and takes the tuppence from Michael anyways. Michael's attempts to retrieve the money cause a run on the bank. In the chaos, the children run away with the tuppence as Mr. Banks tries to help the Dawes stop the chaos and stop his kids.
That night, Mr. Banks angrily returns home, to find Mary Poppins, Bert, and a swarm of chimney sweeps partying in his home. Bert sends the sweeps away and hires himself as the family chimney sweep in a similar manner to Mary Poppins' hiring. Mr. Banks strictly finally asks Mary Poppins what is going on in her career with the family; she refuses to tell him. Bert talks to Mr. Banks while he is gathering his brooms. Mr. Banks recounts his belief that Mary Poppins had tricked him into the bank outing in order to embarrass him. Bert sympathizes, but hints that Mr. Banks has become so consumed by work, that he has failed to be a loving father to his children, and a loving husband to his wife. After Bert leaves, the children come (dressed now in their nightclothes) and Michael gives his father the tuppence, innocently believing that that will fix everything. Mr. Banks, slowly changing his heart, gently accepts the offering and politely asks his kids to go to bed for the night.
Mr. Banks is called back to the bank. There, the bank's senior officers hold him responsible for causing the bank run, which has been the bank's greatest money loss "since we financed that tea shipment to the American Colonies that got ruined by those rebels" (The Boston Tea Party). As punishment, Mr. Banks is fired, by being cashiered, in which his bowler hat is torn and his umbrella is pulled inside out. Momentarily somber, George, then feels happy and wears the smashed bowler with pride and uses the destroyed umbrella like a walking stick. When asked if he had anything to say, he remembers and for the first time correctly pronounces Mary Poppins's special word, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". Laughing, because the word serves to make him feel better, he leaves in a better mood, even stopping to tell a joke to the senior Mr. Dawes. Notably, the joke was one that Michael had told him earlier, but one that George had shrugged off at the time. Soon after Mr. Banks leaves, Mr. Dawes Sr. raspily laughs his guts out and his lifeless body flies in the air (He dies laughing).
The next morning, it is revealed that he had spent the night in the basement, fixing Jane and Michael's broken kite. He then takes his entire family kite-flying, having apparently resolved to be a better father and husband. While kite-flying, he is met by the junior Mr. Dawes, who informs Banks that the senior Mr. Dawes has died laughing the night before. Mr. Banks expresses his condolences, but Mr. Dawes, Jr, notes that his father had died happier than ever in his life as a result of hearing Mr. Banks's joke. In gratitude, the junior Mr. Dawes (who has now taken over the bank) promotes George to a partner to fill the vacancy that was left by him taking over the bank. At the film's close, Mr. Banks is seen happily flying kites with his family.
Mary Poppins (musical)
Like the film, the musical depicts George as a stern, practical man, who is somewhat out of touch with his family. But rather than being fired for indirectly causing a bank run, George is shown having to choose accounts for the bank to invest in. He chooses a middle class man's factory over a rich man's Ponzi scheme, which appears to harm the bank. As a result, he is suspended and he takes his anger out on his wife and children.
The second act reveals that George had a very harsh nanny (named Mrs. Andrews) growing up, whom he describes as a holy terror after Winifred hires her in an attempt to please him. Later on, George hides in the park, depressed about his lack of achievements. Winfred discovers him, and learns how he suffered at the hands of Mrs. Andrews. After returning home, he receives a telegram requesting his presence at the bank. He worries that he is to be fired, and decides to sell the family heirloom. However it is accidentally broken by Mrs. Brill, who had been cleaning it. As he is cleaning up the pieces, he finds some gingerbread stars from his childhood.
He briefly reflects, and then goes to meet the Bank Chairman. At the bank, he is amazed to learn that the bank considers him a hero, as his previous investment has made a fortune for the bank. He gives Mary Poppins's word as the word of success. He apologizes to Winifred, who had come to the bank to defend him, for his treatment of her. George then returns home, happily waltzing with his wife, as his children look on.
- He shares a similairty to Sheldon Cooper from the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. They both have compulsive personalities and cannot tolerate changes to their routine.
- He is one of four Disney fathers who have serious personalities the others being Simba, George Darling and Robert Philip.
- George is similar to Ebenezer Scrooge as both men are cold hearted but reform in the end and become happier and more generous.
- George is similar in appearnce to the famous actor Charlie Chaplin including his moustache, suit and bowler hat.
Mary Poppins (film) | Soundtrack | Mary Poppins (musical) | House of Mouse
Characters: Mary Poppins (character) | Bert | George Banks | Winifred Banks | Jane Banks | Michael Banks | Penguin Waiters | Fox | Admiral Boom and Mr. Binnacle | Uncle Albert | Mr. Dawes Sr. | Katie Nanna | Mrs. Brill | Ellen | Mr. Dawes Jr.
Locations: London, England
Songs: Chim Chim Cher-ee | Sister Suffragette | The Life I Lead | The Perfect Nanny | A Spoonful of Sugar | Jolly Holiday | Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious | Stay Awake | I Love to Laugh | Fidelity Fiduciary Bank | Feed the Birds | Step in Time | A Man Has Dreams | Let's Go Fly a Kite | The Chimpanzoo | A British Bank