Peter Pan (1924 film)
original movie poster
|Directed by||Herbert Brenon|
|Produced by||Famous Players-Lasky
Fred Niblo
|Written by||J.M. Barrie (play)
Willis Goldbeck (screenplay)
Virginia Browne Faire
|Cinematography||James Wong Howe|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date(s)||December 29, 1924|
|Running time||105 minutes|
Peter Pan is a 1924 silent adventure film released by Paramount Pictures, the first film adaptation of the play by J. M. Barrie. It was directed by Herbert Brenon and starred Betty Bronson as Peter Pan, Ernest Torrence as Captain Hook, Mary Brian as Wendy, and Virginia Browne Faire as Tinker Bell. Anna May Wong, a groundbreaking Chinese-American actress, played the Indian princess Tiger Lily.
In the story, Peter Pan, a magical boy who refuses to grow up, brings the Darling children (Wendy, John, and Michael) from London to Neverland, where they have adventures that include a confrontation with the pirate Captain Hook and his crew. Later, the children feel homesick and wish to go home. Wendy invites Peter and the Lost Boys to come with them so they can be adopted. The Lost Boys are eager to do so, but Peter refuses because he does not wish to grow up. Wendy and her brothers and the Lost Boys are captured by the pirates, but rescued by Peter, who forces Captain Hook to walk the plank and be eaten by the crocodile who once ate his hand. Wendy and the boys return to the Darling home, where Mrs. Darling meets Peter for the first time and offers to adopt him, but he refuses for the same reason that he refused to go back with Wendy and the boys - he has no intention of growing up. Peter asks Wendy to return to Neverland with him, and Mrs. Darling agrees to allow Wendy to go back once a year to help Peter with his spring cleaning.
Production background 
The film closely follows the plot of the original play, and even goes so far as to incorporate much of its original stage dialogue in the intertitles. Added scenes include Nana the dog pouring out Michael's medicine and giving him a bath, and Nana bursting into the home at which a party is being given, to warn Mr. and Mrs. Darling that Peter Pan and the Darling children are flying around the nursery.
Like the original play and several other versions, and unlike the 1953 Disney film, the 1924 version makes it clear that Wendy harbors a romantic attachment to Peter, but Peter, to Wendy's annoyance, only thinks of her as his mother. The film omits the scene An Afterthought, which Barrie wrote after the play was staged, and in which Peter returns for Wendy, only to find that years have passed and that she is now a married woman with a daughter.
Barrie selected Bronson for the role, and wrote additional scenes for the film, but Brenon stuck largely to the stageplay.
Release and restoration 
Peter Pan was first released in the United States on 29 December 1924. The distributor was Paramount Pictures. In Germany, where the premiere took place in December 1925, the distributor was Ufa.
Since there was no national film archive in the United States and Paramount had no interest in a long-term distribution of the film – distributors held movies only as long in the program as they earned money – most copies of Peter Pan were destroyed over the years.
For decades, only defective copies were available. In the 1990s James Card, film restorer and curator of George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, discovered a well-preserved copy which could be restored by David Pierce at the Disney Studios. Philip C. Carli composed new film music, which was performed by the Flower City Society Orchestra. The restored version was released on 8 April 2001 at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.
- Betty Bronson as Peter Pan
- Ernest Torrence as Captain Hook
- Mary Brian as Wendy Darling
- Jack Murphy as John Darling
- Philippe De Lacy as Michael Darling
- Virginia Browne Faire as Tinker Bell
- George Ali as Nana the dog and Crocodile
- Esther Ralston as Mrs. Darling
- Cyril Chadwick as Mr. Darling
- Anna May Wong as Tiger Lily
- Maurice Murphy as Tootles
- Mickey McBan as Slightly
- George Crane Jr. as Curly
- Winston Doty as 1st Twin
- Weston Doty as 2nd Twin
- Terence McMillan as Nibs
- Louis Morrison as Gentleman Starkey
- Edward Kipling as Smee
The film was celebrated at the time for its innovative use of special effects (mainly to show Tinker Bell) according to Disney's 45th anniversary video of their adaptation of Peter Pan. In 2000, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
See also 
- The House That Shadows Built (1931 promotional film by Paramount with excerpt of this film)
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