BANK RUNS AND THE 1964 MOVIE “MARY POPPINS”

September 1, 2011 at 12:59 am | Posted in Art, Economics, Film, Financial, Globalization, History, United Kingdom | Leave a comment

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Walt Disney‘s 1964 film Mary Poppins

The movie opens in 1910

Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in the movie

“Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” is a song from Walt Disney‘s film Mary Poppins, and it is composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.

Written in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan, it is a song sung by the stodgy old bankers, led by the “Elder Mr. Dawes” (Dick Van Dyke), to the two children Jane and Michael, in the bank. It is sung in an attempt to get Michael Banks to invest his tuppence in the bank. As the song continues the pressure is on Michael and Jane’s father, a junior clerk at the bank, to sway Michael. When Michael refuses to give the Elder Mr. Dawes the tuppence, Dawes takes it from him. Michael protests very loudly, which causes panic and mayhem. A run on the bank ensues.

The song is not present in the stage musical version of the score.

A verse which Mr. Banks sings in an attempt to convince Michael to invest his money goes like this:

Railways through Africa
Dams across the Nile
Fleets of ocean greyhounds
Majestic, self-amortizing canals
Plantations of ripening tea

has as its origins an essay by C. C. Turner titled ‘Money London’ in the book edited by G. R. Sims called Living London (London: 1903):

It is not possible to realize without much thought the industrial power that is wrapped up in money London. Railways through Africa, dams across the Nile, fleets of ocean greyhounds, great canals, leagues of ripening corn – London holds the key to all of these, and who can reckon up what beside.

Literary sources

The Dawes, Tomes, Mousely, Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank

In the fine musical Mary Poppins, Mr Dawes, the elderly banker who employs the children’s father, optimistically attempts to persuade young Michael to put his money in the bank on the grounds that “If you invest your tuppence/Wisely in the bank/ Safe and sound/ Soon that tuppence/ Will compound.”

Not only will the lad get a slice of the action in “railways through Africa, dams across the Nile, majestic self- amortising canals and plantations of ripening tea”, promises Mr Dawes, but he will “achieve that sense of stature/ as your influence expands/ To the high financial strata/ that established credit now commands”.

Michael, understandably reluctant to entrust his precious tuppence-worth of pocket money to a baritone banker with full backing orchestra, protests, prompting the other customers in the bank to take fright and frantically begin withdrawing their lives’ savings. This in turn forces the Dawes, Tomes, Mousely, Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank to temporarily suspend trading. The children’s unfortunate father, who – perhaps tellingly – is called Mr Banks, faces disciplinary action and is eventually fired for triggering the first run on the bank since 1773. The enduring popularity of this film might be seen as evidence of a popular lack of confidence in the banking system.

Railways through Africa
Dams across the Nile
Fleets of ocean greyhounds
Majestic, self-amortizing canals
Plantations of ripening tea

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