One of the best silent films for the whole family, this magical production of Peter Pan is true to both letter and spirit of Barrie’s nursery tale.
Largely retaining theatrical trappings from the author’s own stage-play version of the story, the film incorporates some location shooting and charming special effects, bringing Neverland to to the screen in a unique way.
Continuing a stage convention that would extend to subsequent film versions, Pan is played by a petite woman, teenaged Betty Bronson (hand-picked by Barrie himself), who brings tomboyish energy and dash to the role. Ernest Torrence sneers with foppish malevolence as Captain Hook, and Mary Brian makes a charming Wendy. The stage flying effects work just as well onscreen, and George Ali reprises his delightful costumed animal performances from the stage as Nana and the crocodile.
Going beyond stagebound productions, this Peter Pan includes the flying Jolly Roger, closeups of Tinker Bell, and a unique scene in which materials for a house gathered the Lost Boys magically assemble themselves around the unconscious Wendy. (One curiosity is Hollywood’s unabashed Americanization of Barrie’s British sentiment, including changing phrases such as "English gentlemen" to "American gentlemen" and replacing the Union Jack with the stars and stripes!)
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.