Peter Pan (1924 film)
original film poster
|Directed by||Herbert Brenon|
|Produced by||Famous Players-Lasky|
|Written by||J.M. Barrie (play)
Willis Goldbeck (screenplay)
Virginia Browne Faire
|Cinematography||James Wong Howe|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
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.
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 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, the film was thought to be lost. In the 1950s James Card, film restorer and curator of George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, discovered a well-preserved copy in a vault at the Eastman School of Music, and made a preservation of that source. Film historian David Pierce discovered an additional and hitherto unknown 16mm copy at the Disney Studios which had been made when the company acquired the rights to the property in 1938. A new restoration was undertaken by the George Eastman House combining the two sources in 1994, and Philip C. Carli composed new film music for it, which was premiered by the Flower City Society Orchestra at the 1996 Pordenone Silent Film Festival.
- 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.
The role of Tiger Lily, that was played by Anna May Wong a Chinese-American movie star as a stereotypical Native American princess, has become controversial over the years.
- The House That Shadows Built (1931 promotional film by Paramount with excerpt of this film)
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