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The boy who refused to grow up
JohnHowardReid17 December 2006
When Sir James M. Barrie agreed to allow Famous Players—Lasky to make a movie version of his 1904 Christmas pantomime Peter Pan, he laid down some pretty stiff terms. Not only was he to have casting approval, but the title cards were to use as far as possible the dialogue of the stage play; the plot line was to keep to the original Three-Act structure; the characters were to be those of the play—none were to be eliminated and additional characters were not to be introduced; and above all, the characters were to fly realistically. Sir James also insisted on writing a long Preface to the movie in which he made the point that Peter Pan was a pantomime and needed to be accepted as such.

Unfortunately, he was unaware of the fact that Americans do not know what a panto is, let alone what are its traditions. Luckily, this didn't really matter. The picture was a huge success anyway and catapulted eighteen-year-old Betty Bronson (whom Barrie himself had chosen for the lead) into celebrity status overnight.

So to really appreciate the picture we need first to understand what a panto is and what Barrie did to change or modify its structure and traditions.

By the turn of the century, the annual Christmas pantomime had become a very elaborate affair. In fact, every year theatre managements vied with each other to offer presentations even more spectacular than they had staged in the past. (A successful panto didn't just fill the theatre at Yuletide but would run right through Easter). Although largely (and very loosely) based on nursery rhymes and fairy tales, pantomimes had a rigid cast system. The lead role was always the Dame—a middle-aged woman, enacted by a leading funnyman, the more raucous, the better. Next in line, was the Principal Boy, always played by a very sexy young lady who wore abbreviated costumes to show off her legs. The Villain was usually billed next, and then came the specialty acts. These were vaudeville turns by jugglers, singers, magicians, etc., often used to entertain the audience while stagehands readied the spectacular main set for the next Act, but just as often actually interpolated into the panto itself. Of course, pantos always had plenty of real children milling around the stage, but the leader (who had practically all the lines) was a young adult (even though he or she might be a impersonating a character supposedly ten or twelve years younger).

Doubling was quite common in the panto. Often it was a matter of necessity, but just as often it was done deliberately. Barrie intended that Mr Darling and Captain Hook always be played by the same actor. Unfortunately, both Brenon and Paramount jibed at this idea and finally convinced Barrie that on a motion picture set, it was impractical.

The principal change (and it was a brilliant one) that Barrie made to the traditional structure was not to turn the Dame into a dog (Dames had often played comic animals in the past) or even to restrict the Dame's frolics to Two Acts (although top-billed, the Dame's role was often not all that large. In some pantos, he/she didn't even make her entrance until the Second Act). What Barrie did was absolutely startling. He made the Dame silent. He/she doesn't utter a word. The role is all pantomime, you see. Pantomime yet—in a pantomime! Brilliant!

Now we can appreciate the movie for what it is: not just a filmed pantomime but one that goes beyond the restrictions of the stage to make the spectacle more spectacular, and the special effects even more wonderful and startling.

Also we can now enjoy the way the movie is cast and played. It's a pity Hook and Darling are no longer played by the same man (though admittedly it is just as hard to imagine dull Chadwick, perfect as stuffy Darling, brandishing a villainous hook, as it is to see Ernest Torrence toning down the foam as Wendy's dad). However, super-sexy Betty Bronson makes an ideal Peter Pan (it's important that the character be lasciviously attractive yet act as if she is totally unaware of this fact—and this Miss Bronson accomplishes remarkably well, no doubt due to Brenon's meticulous direction).

Eighteen-year-old Mary Brian is also superbly cast as Wendy. Even though her stage age is around twelve or thirteen, she is not only the leader of the children, but a genuine mother figure and is supposed to look just a few years younger than the actress playing her mother, in this case twenty-two year old Esther Ralston. (You're not supposed to be mathematically minded and try to work out how a twenty-two year old can have a twelve year old daughter. Pantomimes are inevitably fanciful). The father figure is usually much older. Forty-five year old Cyril Chadwick fits the bill nicely.

It's a tribute to Brenon's skillful yet sensitive direction, James Wong Howe's beautiful photography, Pomeroy's fascinating special effects and the enduring charm and cleverness of Barrie's fairy tale that the movie is just as enchanting in 2007 as it seemed to appreciative worldwide audiences in 1925.
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Notes from my introduction to a recent PETER PAN (1924) screening...
Larry41OnEbay-229 September 2009
PETER PAN was directed by Herbert Brenon with a screenplay written by Willis Goldbeck, based on the story by J.M. Barrie. In fact nearly all of the intertitles (the words on the cards that we read to ourselves) are taken directly from J. M. Barrie's dialogue from the original play around 105 years ago! James Barrie was born in 1860, the ninth child of ten. He was a small child (he only grew to 5 feet 3 inches as an adult) and he drew attention to himself with storytelling. He is best remembered for creating Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up, whom he based on his friends, the Llewelyn Davies boys. He is also credited with popularizing the name Wendy, which was very uncommon before he gave it to the heroine of Peter Pan. When he died he left the rights to this story and all it's future profits to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. This filmed version of Peter Pan, the very first (of eleven so far) opened Christmas week, 1924. Then, like one of the Lost Boys, it vanished into a Never Land of its own. Paramount, like every other studio, looked on its films as disposable product. Films were as ephemeral as the daily newspaper. Why bother to keep a print? No studio, museum or archive could find it, nor any of the private collectors, who could sometimes materialize copies that more legitimate sources could not. It was one of the most important of missing American films. For the children who saw it, nothing else ever compared. William K. Everson, one of the great silent film historians, never tired of rhapsodizing Peter Pan or its glowing star, Betty Bronson. James Card, curator at George Eastman House and one of the great heroes of film preservation, longed to see this childhood favorite with a desperate nostalgia. It was he who, as a young man working for Kodak in Rochester, discovered a fume-filled vault of decomposing nitrate films. Nitrate films are highly flammable, can spontaneously combust and even burn under water because they supply their own oxygen. Card convinced Kodak to call Iris Barry, the visionary film preservationist at the Museum of Modern Art to help save this title. This beautiful tinted print was restored from that one of a kind, surviving nitrate print. It stars beautiful blonde Esther Ralston as the mother Mrs. Darling. One of the best-liked silent movie stars both on and off the screen, Mary Brian plays Wendy. Philippe De Lacy, arguably the silent era's cutest child actors plays Michael. The exotic oriental actress Anna May Wong has a small role as Tiger Lily. And giant Ernest Torrence is evil and menacing as Captain Hook. Tinker Bell is played by an actress named, of all things, Virginia Faire. And the family's pet dog Nana was such a good actor that in real life he was called George Ali. As for the lead role of Peter Pan, it was the author James Barrie who selected Betty Bronson, then an unknown to play the coveted role after he turned down silent superstars Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson & Lillian Gish. Barrie selected Betty Bronson because she had trained for the Ballet Russe with famed choreographer Michel Fokine and her grace and innocence were unmatched. (And she could fly!) It is surprising when you see how lavish the sets, costumes and special effects are that the budget for this film was only $40,000 and I think this is much better than the 1991 version which cost $70 million dollars to make. I would like to read a quote from the New York Times, from MORDAUNT HALL, one of their toughest critics written Christmas week of 1924 – "That wonderful ecstatic laughter, tinkling and beautiful, just the laughter that Barrie loves to hear, greeted Herbert Brenon's picturized version of "Peter Pan" yesterday afternoon in the Rivoli. Again and again the silence of the audience was snapped by the ringing laugh of a single boy which was quickly followed by an outburst from dozens of others, some of whom shook in their seats in sheer Joy at what they saw upon the screen. It was laughter that reminded one of the days of long ago when one believed in a sort of Never Never Land, when the smiling sun on an early morning made one dance with joy over the dew-covered grass, when the fragrant Spring flowers sent a thrill through one's youthful soul, when one gazed at a real fish in a shallow rippling stream and expected to hook it with a bent pin, when one thought that after all it might be possible to fly. These jubilant outbursts from youthful throats even brought to mind some beautiful anthem one had heard the choir singing in a lofty cathedral. It was laughter that brought a tear of exuberant gladness to our eyes—laughter that makes grown-ups delighted to be alive." - Unquote. PETER PAN like the WIZARD OF OZ has helped remind adults of what innocence we all shared back when we were children. So when you are asked during the film to clap if you believe in fairies, you better clap or you may never feel young again!
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Peter Pan---An Enchanting Silent Film For All Ages
Cinebug19 December 1999
After watching the Kino DVD of PETER PAN, I was delighted to have this most charming of silent films finally available in a quality video release.

The picture quality, which was subtly tinted amber and blue, will disappoint no one, although it looked more like a really good 16mm print than a 35mm to me. Perhaps I'm spoiled because I've never seen the film in any gauge but 35mm. A great deal of the magic in PETER PAN was supplied by cinematographer James Wong Howe. Scenes that could have been foolish in other hands became enchantment in his.

The actors are magically believable in their parts. Betty Bronson, who convincingly plays a child although we never forget that she's really a grownup woman, gives a performance that is unusually `fey' and she seems to have fully developed every muscle in her face that can cause an adorable look to radiate to the viewer. Ernest Torrence as Captain Hook will remind everyone of their grandfather while he comically menaces Peter and the Lost Boys, but remains the perfect gentleman with Wendy------complete with courtly bowing and a flourish of his handkerchief .

The animals in Never-Never Land are children in marvelously expressive fur costumes who look like stuffed animals come to life. But the largest and most expressive of all is Nana, the canine nurse maid for the Darling Children who will amaze everyone with her anthropomorphic gestures. She (played by George Ali) is the delight of the film.

PETER PAN is filled with magical touches that never seem to go too far or become foolish. Peter's heart to heart talk with the crocodile when they conspire to "get" Captain Hook was one of my favorites, as were the mermaids on the beach. The only point that has ever bothered me is at the end when Peter actually stabs and kills two of the pirates. Somehow I thought this was out of place and brought too much realism to a light hearted fairy tale. But this is very minor nit-picking of an otherwise flawless silent film.

Phil Carli's score works perfectly and has a "turn of the century, concert in the park on a Sunday afternoon" feel to it. It wouldn't have worked with many silent films, but for PETER PAN it was marvelous------a tribute to Carli's ability to match a narrative theme with it's programmatic musical compliment.

The "value ads" are production stills from the film along with a poster and lobby card. There are also interviews with Esther Ralston (one video and three audio), who plays Mrs. Darling. The things she has to say about Louis B. Mayer are more than just interesting.

A title card at the very beginning tells the audience that the acting may seem whimsical to an adult but that "all the characters are seen with a child's outlook on life.....even to the adults in the story. Pull the beard on a pirate and you would find the face of a child." So for 102 minutes, clap your hands and pretend you believe in fairies.

Jay F.
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Very Entertaining Adaptation, & A Rather Impressive Production For Its Time
Snow Leopard14 March 2006
This is a very entertaining adaptation of the story of "Peter Pan", and the production, particularly in the visual effects, is rather impressive for its time. The cast is a good one, with a lot of enthusiasm for their roles, and the whole movie has a lively pace to go along with the interesting story and plenty of good visuals.

Betty Bronson delivers everything that you could expect as Peter, and it's easy to see why J.M. Barrie himself chose her for the role. She has plenty of energy and a believably boyish appearance. The rest of the cast is also good, and in some cases (Virginia Browne Faire and Anna May Wong) you wish you could have seen more of them. It would be hard to think of a better Captain Hook than Ernest Torrance, who gives the role just the right degree of exaggerated villainy. In what seems to have been her first screen role, Mary Brian is appealing as Wendy.

It sticks mostly to the essentials of the familiar story, which is usually appealing to children while potentially quite interesting to adults, for different reasons. Peter's desire to remain a boy, and the offbeat nature of the fantasy world, make the story much more than a whimsical daydream.

The visual effects, particularly the 'flying' sequences, work very well for their time, and they must have been very exciting for the movie's original audiences. The Tinkerbell effect also works well despite its simple means. The fantasy story is combined with just enough reality (back at the Darling home) for it to fit together nicely.

"Peter Pan" is a movie and stage perennial, so there is no shortage of versions to choose from. But this one is very enjoyable, and it is certainly recommended for anyone interested in seeing a silent movie version of the story.
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come away, come away....
the-1118 May 2000
I really didn´t know about that there is a silent movie PETER PAN. The only version I´ve ever seen was the Disney version which I always loved. Here in Germany we have a culture-channel on TV. There was a theme evening about PETER PAN. A biography about James Mathew Barrie and after that they showed the silent movie from 1924. I was blown away ! There is magic in it and the tragical side of Peter is deep in it. My english isn´t good enough to describe all I want to, bit this is one of my absolutely favourites. I voted "10".
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David Jeffers for
rdjeffers5 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A Thing of Beauty and A Boy Forever

Sunday January 28, 12:30 & 4:00pm, The Rose Theater, Port Townsend

Paramount chose A Kiss for Cinderella (1925) as their second production with playwright Sir James M. Barrie, director Herbert Brenon and young star Betty Bronson. William K. Everson considered the film a masterpiece. "Few films, perhaps only Jean Cocteau's 1947 La Belle et la Bete, have caught the genuine flavor of fairytale magic as beautifully as this one." Sadly, the only surviving print, which Everson described as " … richly toned, crystal-clear…" and " … a thing of beauty itself…" was allowed to deteriorate badly before it was preserved. Only a splotchy, hypo-stained, black and white print survives today, and much of the film is obscured, leaving only a hint of its original beauty.

The first Barrie, Brenon and Bronson project, Peter Pan (1924) was nearly lost altogether. In his book, Seductive Cinema: The Art of Silent Film, James Card recounts a tale of clandestine, late night meetings in the bowels of Rochester's Eastman Theater, " … three long black cars", and a burglary attempt to rescue one hundred reels of irreplaceable nitrate film.

Employed by Eastman Kodak after World War II, Card discovered existing prints of several features previously considered lost, among them Paramount's Peter Pan, stored across the hall from " … the old screening room for student organists." A chubby, perpetually smiling sound technician named 'Chum', who preferred the abandoned screening room to his digs at the YMCA, had been showing the films at parties. Card was certain word of these gatherings would get out, and the instant it became known that a large quantity of volatile nitrate film stock was stored in the building, it would be removed and destroyed. Despite the failed burglary, after desperate pleas and some mild coercion, the bulk of the films held in long forgotten storage were sent to The Museum of Modern Art for eventual preservation.

Throughout Hollywood's early years, competition for talent was fierce. Paramount sought the bigger, more exotic stars, of literature and the stage. When they signed opera legend Geraldine Farrar, her contract included a private rail car for the long trips between New York and California, and a fully staffed private villa for her stays on the coast. Farrar, and others, brought the prestige of legitimate theater to films. Scottish playwright Sir James Barrie was the biggest feather in Adolph Zukor and Jesse Lasky's cap. Once the studio and Barrie came to terms, work began on Honorable Crichton, re-titled Male and Female (1918), and Cecil B. DeMille directed no less than Gloria Swanson.

Paramount began its search for the lead in Barrie's Peter Pan (1924), with a casting call of epic proportions. The prize of young actresses since its 1904 premiere (due largely to the technical demands of stage flight), everyone wanted the part. Swanson was interested. She traveled to England and met with Barrie. Mary Pickford made her own tests, in costume. Barrie's contract gave him final cast approval, so audition films were shipped to England where surprisingly, his choice was not a star at all. Betty Bronson was a gangly young dancer who, as James Card observed, had a " … seventeen-year-old, unactressy face."

An author's participation in performing arts brings with it a sense of authenticity. Happenstance may also draw elements together with unpredictably wonderful results. In 1924, Peter Pan had both these factors working in its favor. Paramount employed the best technicians and performers available and consistently produced films of the highest quality. The casting, in addition to Bronson, was brilliant. Ernest Torrence (Streamboat Bill Jr, 1928) was chosen to play Captain Hook, fresh from his performance as the tough but likable scout in The Covered Wagon (1923). His imposing, yet buffoonish performance made Hook a likable villain. Anna May Wong (The Thief of Bagdad 1924, Piccadilly 1929), played the mischievous wild little Indian, Tiger Lily, while twenty-three-year-old Esther Ralston, was an image of serene motherhood as Mrs. Darling. Broadway veteran George Ali, who specialized in animal parts, played Nana, family dog and nurse to the Darling children. Though uncredited, Ali almost certainly played the lion and crocodile also. Mary Brian in her first screen role as Wendy, was smitten with Peter, the object of Tinker Belle's ire, and mother to the Lost Boys. Philippe De Lacey (Rosita 1923, Don Juan 1926), played the littlest Darling, Michael, " I flewed! I flewed!"

The production design was charmingly whimsical, owing, as Card observed, to the legacy of Georges Méliès. The cinematography of James Wong Howe, at the start of his long career, captured beautiful and inventive images of tiny fairies and flying pirate ships that entice the eye with exquisite detail. Audiences still gasp at Virginia Brown Faire, as Tinker Belle, tugging at the enormous dresser drawer where Peter's shadow is kept, while her delicate costume and long hair fly in the breeze.

So many images from this film have appeared in later versions of Barrie's play. None have surpassed the magic and artistry of the original. While the Darlings dine, Nana escapes the banishment of her doghouse to warn them, just in time to see the children and Peter fly in circles, and out the nursery window. Beneath the Forest of Make-Believe, safe from the animals, pirates and indians, the Lost Boys live in a cave, with jack-o-lantern lights and a Murphy bed made of leaves. Mermaids lie sunning on the beach (Catalina Island), while Hook feeds a clock to the crocodile, and the indians hunt a lion.

Although a more complex treatment was developed, Paramount wisely remained close to the play, using Barrie's original text for the inter-titles, with only minor changes made to 'Americanize' the characters. Bronson's boyish posturing and subtle, reactive performance personifies Barrie's joyful celebration of eternal youth.
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Traditional Story Before Disney, Better Defined Tale
DKosty1239 December 2006
This film has a very stagy feel & it should because it was taken from the show as it was running on the stage in 1924 & filmed for the most part. There is only a sequence on the ocean which is an early example of how pirate films made much later would be like. While the sets are much the same on the ocean, the fantasy is left intact with children conquering bitter pirates.

The real fantasy of this film is how George Ali, in his only film role, makes a costumed dog seem so realistic. The special effects with the fairy, etc. are very obviously borrowed from the stage play. To me, the story here & the moral are more defined than the later Walt Disney animated version of the same story.

If you want to make a great home movie night, watch this film, then watch "Finding Neverland" starring Johnny Depp made years later. This silent is so well done, it makes the later film seem even better. The silent film actually enhances the enjoyment of Neverland as this film prefaces it very well.

All the acting in this silent is well done. This is an epic silent film.
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A Piece of Magic
Mike-76424 August 2004
The story of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, who comes to the Darling house searching for his shadow and meets the three children (Wendy, Michael, & John) and takes them back to Never Never Land and to the Lost Boys. Captain Hook, who wants revenge against Peter for the loss of his right hand to an alligator, leads his band of pirates on a raid of the woods, kidnapping everyone, save Peter who must travel to Hook's ship for the rescue. This film has such a childlike magic charm that gives it a different appeal to the Disney & Mary Martin versions of the story. Director Brenon uses a stationary approach to the camerawork, giving the film the appearance of a stage production. Betty Bronson made full use of her ballerina skills and puts so much energy in her role. Torrence hams up his role of Hook like any actor would. Probably the best performance I felt was George Ali as Nana, the dog, putting so much life into the character. Only problem I felt, was the film lost some of its magic after Peter and the children left the Darling house. A touching and perfect film still for all ages and probably the one silent film to start the youngsters off with. Rating, 9.
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Absolute enchantment!
David-24011 April 2000
This is a magical must-see, with some eye-popping special effects (Tinkerbell's home is just marvellous) and brilliant cinematography. It sweeps you away with its charm and elegance. I would like to add that Esther Ralston, as Mrs Darling, is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen on film. I love this film and think it deserves a theatrical revival. And congratulations to KINO for a superb video restoration.
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Amazing for its time
MartinHafer23 July 2006
When it comes to pure entertainment, there are very few silent movies that come close to PETER PAN. This whimsical story is also exceptional because I think that adults would enjoy the film at least as much as kids. Why does the film deserve such praise? Well, the biggest reason is that for a movie made in 1924, it was amazingly modern for its time and it appears as if Paramount Studios spared little expense in bringing this J. M. Barrie story to the screen. One example are the flying sequences. In almost every instance, you could see no wires and the kids really looked like they were flying! Second, when they showed the home of Peter and the Lost Boys, it was a magical and wonderful place with giant mushrooms for chairs, glowing jack-o-lanterns as lights and the coolest beds I've ever seen. The place was a magical lair in every sense. Another example was when Hook's boat began to fly--it was a great scene. In fact, the more I think about it, there were many more wonderful scenes--too many to list here. The story just looked wonderful and had among the best set designs and stunts of any silent films and I would rank it among best best of the age, such as THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, FAUST or WINGS. This was a top production in every sense--well, every sense but one. While I liked it, it was kind of silly to make Nana the dog and the crocodile people in costumes. Some might really think this is cheesy, but I really thought it was charming.

As for the story itself, it was super entertaining. The only problem I noticed and reason the movie does not earn a 10 were the embarrassing and unnecessary pro-USA comments throughout the film. While I am very happy and proud to be an American, this film was inappropriate in making everyone gung ho Americans--even though in the original, they were English. Four different times in the movie they made reference to this--such as the Lost Boys singing patriotic American songs when they were caught and another time when Wendy told her brothers to "act like proper American gentlemen". You would almost think the movie had been made during the war due to all these references, but it wasn't. Still, apart from this minor problem, it was a heck of a wonderful film.

This video was released by KINO International. The print was absolutely pristine and the accompanying music exceptional.
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Very little to complain about ...
SHADO5725 December 2004
Having just watched PETER PAN I must say I was very impressed: The quality of this print was just gorgeous!! The idea of giving it a sepia tone was inspired, since it "antiqued" the film just right.

My only complaint with this film (as it is with so many other silents): please run the film at the correct speed. It is running about 20% faster than it should. The labs that convert these films to video have the equipment to do this properly. Running the film too fast spoils the rhythm of the action, and can ruin scenes because of the increase in speed of the action. Apparently not too many people care about this fast action, or the labs would correct this. Well, one can only hope.
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The one that defines all the others: Disney, Spielberg, and awful Deep (web)
leplatypus1 July 2018
As often (KIng Kong, Snow White), the 1st try is the better for ever: so Peter Pan visual magic doesn't come from Disney but from this old, silent, BW one! A bit like next year Phantom, i'm amazed by the fantastic sets, so real and so poetic and nothing done with CGI :) : the bedroom, the lost boys island, the mermaids, the beach, the pirates ship! The story is really about child fantasy: adventures and parental love and for sure, the cast is amazing: it was good to meet again Mary Brian and that was a surprise to find a girl as Peter! But this Betty is really enthusiastic and i understand why the 2 became friends for life! The animals characters are also great because their suits are so cool: So this movie is just a must-see fantasy and it's clear that there is a visionary at the helm (the author himself) and not a bunch of cupid producers...
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Wonderful, faithful adapation
john_siv3 February 2018
This is arguably the best translation of 'Peter Pan' to the big screen, and I say this almost 100 years after its release!

The story is as true to the original stage play as any other version filmed, with the dialogue on the inter-titles being particularly accurate, and acting performances are tender, sincere and all strike just the right note.

This film would be a fantastic introduction to silent cinema for anyone interested in getting a taste of it; and definitely one that would captivate the children. Highly recommended!
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I say it holds up!
ericstevenson30 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This very early version of "Peter Pan" which happens to be the first feature length version may in fact be the best version out there. I appreciate how faithfully it tells the story. Then again, there are some pretty weird problems. The animal costumes are quite bad and you can easily tell it's just someone in a costume. I mean, a dog is an animal very easy to train, so why do you even need someone to dress up as one? I admit it was also pretty odd how Peter Pan was played by a woman. I mean, his entire character is that he's one of the Lost Boys.

Still, this movie still had a lot going for it. I actually think the ending is the best part because they actually have the parents adopt the Lost Boys! Peter Pan still leaves to be with the fairies, though. I don't think that was in the original book version. I read a watered down version of it once. Although before sound pictures, there's one point where Captain Hook and his men yell out "Whoo! Whoo!". It certainly seems as though it's the actual actors making the sounds. The drum beat seems authentic too. It's nice how a lot holds up. ***
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A 'tour de force' by George Ali
AnimatronicBear17 January 2002
The wonderful performance by 'Animal Actor' George Ali as both Nana and the Croc has been a career inspiration to me as a physical actor. George pulls off this film performance while in his 50's- surely a suggestion that we are never too old to do a thing if our heart is in it!
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a theatrical experience
ricedanielle7 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This film is unlike any peter pan film I have seen. It is like watching The very first Peter Pan theater show on the big screen. The special effects and costumes are different then other films I have seen that were made during this time period.

One of the scenes that is truly captivating is when Tinkerbell attempts to find Peters Shadow. Instead of having a small light created by a mirror as they would have used in the play sets were created to make the actress who plays the fairy to be the size of a human thumb. The sets look as though they were made for a giant. As the character leans up against the drawer her costumes flows slowly with the breeze. With these characteristics and the soft lighting a magical image is created.

The costumes in this film are also an unique part of the film especially those of the animals. the animals in this film are human beings in large animal suits crawling on all four limbs. There are lion, wolf, crocodile, bear and dog costumes; the dog costume being the most detailed. Nana ( the house nanny) is a character who helps around the home and takes care of the children. The costume used by the actor has details that allow him to use the characters description to its full potential. With a mouth that allows him to grab items of a bed and a tail that wags this costume adds the illusion of having a real dog on stage.

For those who enjoy theater this is a great film to watch. It grants you the opportunity to watch the creations of J.M Barrie through his own work.
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far better than the Disney cartoon
mjneu5926 December 2010
The mind of a child can be a strange and fascinating place, and this early silent adaptation of Sir James Barrie's famous play looks at times almost as if it were written and directed by a team of precocious kids. Rarely seen today (after being unfairly eclipsed by the animated Disney version), the film imagines Never Never Land as a strictly pre-adolescent dream world filled with innocent childhood fears and longings: friendly Indians, evil pirates, hungry alligators, all saturated in a sort of mock Freudian surrealism, with even the vicious pirates pining for mommy. Adding to the oddness is the sexual ambiguity of the title character, played by a sprightly Betty Bronson (looking more like a tomboy than a young lad refusing to grow up), and some wonderfully fervent Victorian patriotism (caught by Captain Hook, the children begin defiantly singing 'My Country, 'Tis of Thee'). The film was clever for its own time, but even today shows enough sophistication to still be a source of considerable enjoyment.
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Simply loved it. A treat from 88 yrs ago !!!
max_in_md21 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
A wonderful treat from a bygone era of silent movies. 58 yrs old George Ali was amazing as Nana the dog but probably as crocodile.

Betty was good as Peter Pan but why couldn't they have got a sweet looking boy instead of a girl.

Our girls were bit ewed by girls kissing each other so much, wonder if the kids 88 yrs ago felt the same.

Perhaps those kids were lot more innocent and believed into her being a boy.

We had a lady playing harp live during the movie and had a QA session after the movie which was great for kids as they had so many questions.

All in all absolutely a delight and a MUST WATCH for ALL.
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Creepy kissing
gkeith_122 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I am a fan of Maude Adams, the first American (1905) to play Peter Pan on the stage. In this movie (1924), Betty as Peter had athletic legs and thighs. Resting back on her haunches, and folding her arms, reminded me of how Maude must have looked. They were both women playing a boy's part.

Betty looked quite masculine, but I had to remember that she was female when she kissed the women on the lips. Do I remember right? Did she kiss Wendy and Mrs. Darling? They weren't full blown romantic kisses, and were just little pecks, but directly on the lips and lingering a little too long. It was just a little smarmy for my comfort level. Couldn't the kisses have been on the cheek? Wasn't Peter supposed to hate human emotion, and anything remotely masquerading as sexuality? It was quite creepy.

The Captain Hook in this movie was wonderful. Nana had just the right amount of head wiggling, and communicatively funny nuances. The dad was right-on stuffy, with his becoming more human at the end when he welcomes the Lost Boys into his home. Mrs. Darling was just beautiful. Tinker Belle was awesome when she tried to open the dresser drawer, with her headband reminding me of Wonder Woman. Her flowing gown in the wind, with her long hair, as she struggled with the drawer handle, were just divine. The shadow was well done, and Betty's efforts to use it, after Wendy sewed it on, were just balletically flawless. The pirates were great, and so was Princess Tiger Lily. Using "Indians" as characters seems today quite racist, however. I did feel a strangeness when I saw them pursuing a lion, which we usually see in jungle movies.

I kept looking in the credits to find the same actor portraying Mr. Darling and Captain Hook, which I thought was the tradition, but it was not to be.

I have seen several other Peter Pan movies, including "Peter Pan 2003", "Hook" and "Finding Neverland". I have also seen PP both as a stage play and as a beautiful ballet. In the ballet, Hook danced an hilarious waltz with the upright crocodile, drifting across the stage. It was wonderful. The ballet Peter was played by an adult male.

For finally being able to see "Peter Pan 1924" (silent movie, with sepia coloring and beautiful music), I am totally fascinated. There were excellent acting and special effects in this movie. I am giving it a 15/10 for overall excellence.
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Ethereal And Whimisical Silent Movie Fantasy
johnstonjames14 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
one of the first versions of this in film that i know of. and still magical and charming to this day. i own this on DVD. it's a must own for any fan of Barrie's children's classic and for anyone who loves silent movies. i love both.

this film is funny and amusing both intentionally and, often, unintentionally. many of the effects are impressive even by todays standards. illusions, like the close ups of the fairy Tinkerbell, are sort of breath-taking. other effects like people in furry animal suits and clumsy mermaid tales seeming tortured and uncomfortable, are pretty funny. that isn't to say that circus clown George Ali wasn't freaky running around on all fours in a big, gluey, hot, furry dog suit. i've never seen anyone on all fours move and jump around like that. kinda freaky, but i was definitely impressed.

todays audience are bound to crack a few snide jokes about the numerous scenes of actress Betty Bronson as Peter, kissing and snuggling the other female performers. i know on stage that Peter is traditionally played by a woman, but these scenes do make you smirk a little and think, "lez be gay".

it's also fun to get a chance to view the legendary, but seldom known these days, Ana may Wong as Tiger Lilly.

the only real problem with this delightful classic is the Americanization of it. jeez. i thought Disney Americanized this material but this film actually changes the country from England to the United States. no offense to America, but this is a English story and to Americanize it and have the children sing "my country 'tis a thee..", is all wrong for the English 'Peter Pan'.

still, this is a wonderful adaptation and even for a silent movie, amusingly quaint. it might seem too outdated for the average kid these days, but who wants to be average anyway. there's plenty here for any adult viewer who is sentimental and nostalgic about Barrie's 'Peter Pan' and loves old, archival cinema. Merry Christmas 12/14/10.
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randirobot28 October 2005
i am a huge fan of peter pan and when i got this DVD for Christmas i freaked out. i now own every peter pan film ever and this one is really one of my favorites. i love the fact that it is a silent film with the subtitles and cheap effects. it was practically right on the button of jm barrie's play and book, not the adapted for little kids story. if you're into the peter pan movies, this one is a must see. you can see the true story of peter pan and experience what it was like to make a movie back in the 1920s. plus, peter pan was played by a female, which is true for most productions of peter pan. definitely pick this up, it's worth it!
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