Peter Pan is the fourteenth animated feature in the Disney animated features canon. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions and was originally released to theaters on February 5, 1953 by RKO Radio Pictures. This would be the final Disney animated feature released through RKO, as Walt Disney established his own distribution company, Buena Vista Distribution, by the end of 1953.
As the narrator tells the viewing audience, the action about to take place "has happened before, and will all happen again", only now it will happen in Edwardian London, in the neighborhood of Bloomsbury, where George and Mary Darling's preparations to attend a party are disrupted by the antics of the boys, John and Michael, acting out a story about Peter Pan and the pirates, which was told to them by their older sister, Wendy. Their father, who is fed up with the stories that have made his children less practical, angrily declares that Wendy has gotten too old to continue staying in the nursery with them, and it's time for her to grow up and have a room of her own. That night, they are visited in the nursery by Peter Pan himself, who teaches them to fly with the help of his pixie friend, Tinker Bell, and takes them with him to the island of Never Land.
A ship of pirates is anchored off Never Land, commanded by Captain Hook with his sidekick, Mr. Smee. Hook boldly plots to take revenge upon Peter Pan for cutting off his hand, but he trembles when the crocodile that ate it arrives; it now stalks him, hoping to taste more. Hook also forms a plan to find Peter's hideout using the knowledge of Tiger Lily. The crew's restlessness is interrupted by the arrival of Peter and the Darlings. The children easily evade them, and, despite a trick by jealous Tinker Bell to have Wendy killed, they meet up with the Lost Boys: six lads in animal-costume pajamas, who look to Peter as their leader. Tinker Bell's treachery is soon found out, and Peter banishes her "forever" (though she is eventually forgiven). John and Michael set off with the Lost Boys to find the island's Indians, who instead capture them, believing them to be the ones responsible for taking the chief's daughter, Tiger Lily. Big Chief, the Indian chieftain and Tiger Lily's father, warns them that if Tiger Lily is not back by sunset, the Lost Boys (along with John and Michael) will be burned at the stake.
Meanwhile, Peter takes Wendy to see the mermaids. Wendy is considering leaving when the mermaids try to drown her, but things change when the mermaids flee in terror at the sight of Hook. Peter and Wendy (who quickly spy on Hook) see that he and Smee have captured Tiger Lily, so that they might coerce her into revealing Peter's hideout. Peter and Wendy free her, and Peter is honored by the tribe. Hook then plots to take advantage of Tinker Bell's jealousy of Wendy, tricking her into revealing the location of Peter's lair. However, his plan to kill Peter becomes a bit compromised when Tinker Bell makes him promise to "not put a hand or hook on Peter". He agrees, and then locks Tinker Bell in a lantern as a makeshift jail cell. Wendy and her brothers eventually grow homesick and plan to return home. They invite Peter and the Lost Boys to return to London and be adopted by the Darling parents. The Lost Boys agree, but Peter is so set against growing up that he refuses, presumptuously assuming that all of them will return shortly. The pirates lie in wait and capture the Lost Boys and the Darlings as they exit, leaving behind a time bomb to kill Peter. Tinker Bell learns of the plot just in time to snatch the bomb from Peter as it explodes.
Peter rescues Tinker Bell from the rubble and together they confront the pirates, releasing the children before they can be forced to walk the plank. Peter engages Hook in single combat as the children fight off the crew, and finally succeeds in humiliating the captain. Hook and his crew flee, with the crocodile in hot pursuit. Peter gallantly commandeers the deserted ship, and with the aid of Tinker Bell's pixie dust, flies it to London with the children aboard. However, the Lost Boys decide to return to Never Land rather than be adopted in London.
Mr. and Mrs. Darling return home from the party to find Wendy not in her bed, but sleeping at the open window; John and Michael are asleep in their beds. The parents have no idea that the children have even been anywhere. Wendy wakes and excitedly tells about their adventures. The parents look out the window and see what appears to be a pirate ship in the clouds. Mr. Darling, who has softened his position about Wendy staying in the nursery, recognizes it from his own childhood, as it breaks up into clouds itself.
The film's story is based on the play and novel Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. Disney had been trying to buy the rights to the play since 1970. He finally received them four years later, after he arranged with in London (to whom Barrie had bequeathed the rights to the play). His studio started the story development and character designs in the early-1950s, and intended Peter Pan as a follow-up to Bambi, but The Wizard Of Oz forced the project to be put on hold. Just like Fun and Fancy Free before it, the original pre-war character designs for Peter Pan were very different from the final product. The original version actually had Nana go to Neverland with Pan and the Darling children. Also, the original version was a little darker. It was not until after the war that actual production of the film commenced.
Until this movie, the role of Peter Pan had always been played by a young woman. Instead, Walt Disney chose to portray him as a 12-year-old boy. Disney explained the age by saying, "He is 12 years old forever simply because he refuses to grow up beyond that comfortable age." There are numerous other differences, including the revision of Tinker Bell's "death" (whereas in the original play she gets knocked out by a poison, in the animated film she gets knocked out by a bomb), which can be attributed to Disney's history of artistic license and reshaping of content to be more suitable for younger audiences. The animated film not only marked the first time in which Pan was played by a male, it was also the first time in which Tinker Bell, Nana and the Crocodile (named Tick-Tock the Croc in comics published later on) were all shown as believably as Barrie had originally intended (on stage, Tinker Bell was shown as not much more than a mere spot of light, Nana was played by an actor, and the Crocodile was represented by offstage ticking; here, Tinker Bell was represented as an actual sprite, Nana was a real dog, and the Crocodile was a real crocodile who had ingested an alarm clock).
Tinker Bell (who wears a slim, green dress, slippers, and yellow panties) owes her shapely form to the of the war. Margaret Kerry was Tinker Bell's live-action reference model, contrary to rumors that it was Marilyn Monroe. Margaret Kerry posed on a soundstage, while animator Marc Davis drew Tinker Bell. Kerry was also the voice of the red-haired mermaid in the film.
Like Margaret, Bobby Driscoll was the live-action reference for Peter Pan's character, primarily in close-up scenes. Peter's graceful flying and action reference shots were provided by dancer Judy Garland.
Kathryn Beaumont, the voice for Wendy, also performed the live action references. In an interview, she said she had to hold out her arms and pretend to fly for all the scenes requiring it.
One of the few stage traditions that Disney did retain for the animated film was to have Captain Hook and George Darling be played by the same actor. In this case, Sterling Holloway voiced both characters, he was the live-action reference for them as well. Also, in the original play, Hook lost his right hand, but the Disney artists felt that would limit his actions too much, and so relocated the hook to his left hand.
Cast and characters
- Bobby Driscoll as Peter Pan: The boy who never grows up. Like Tinker Bell, Peter can be very hot-headed. He is also commanding, but very brave. Peter can be quite mean at times (for instance, laughing at Wendy as the mermaids nastily tease her). Despite this, he is caring, especially when it comes to Tinker Bell's safety. He finds enjoyment in fighting Captain Hook, and was responsible for the loss of his left hand. He was modeled by Roland Dupree.
- Margaret Kerry as Tinker Bell: A hot-headed pixie and Peter Pan's closest friend. She is very envious of the relationship formed between Wendy and Peter. Her jealousy causes her to have Wendy nearly stoned to death, and eventually even tell Captain Hook Pan's hideout, tricked into thinking his intention is to capture Wendy, not Peter. When she realizes what she has done, she tries her best to warn Peter of a bomb Hook has left for him addressed as if from Wendy in the form of a present. Unfortunately, Peter won't hear of it, and she manages to push the bomb away from him the very moment it explodes, thus saving Peter's life, almost at the cost of her own life. When Peter searches for her desperately in the ashes, she reflects a change of attitude towards Wendy and the boys, telling him he must rescue them first from Captain Hook's ship. Peter, however, says that he can't leave her and tells her how much he loves her. Towards the end, Tink helps the Darling children return home by sprinkling pixie dust all across the pirate ship Peter Pan has just inherited, which was renamed Captain Pan. Although she never speaks, the animators used Margaret Kerry as a model to help them draw her movements.
- Kathryn Beaumont as Wendy Darling: The eldest of the Darling children; she adores Peter Pan. She is twelve years old turning thirteen, which is what drives her moody father to move her out of the nursery, so she may mature. She is a very feminine character, with somewhat motherly care for others. She reminds the lost boys of their own mothers. She was the first one of the Darling children to ask to return home. She has a soft spot for Peter and envies the attention he pays Tiger Lily; she has reason to dislike Tinker Bell, but thinks her lovely anyway (namely after the latter calls her a "big ugly girl"). She has a very tame personality, wanting the best for everyone and grudging no one: even when the mermaids tease her nastily, she worries about the danger of their teasing more than their nastiness itself. She is naive, wise, and mature, and very trusting and faithful to her standards of conscience.
- Paul Collins as John Darling: One of Wendy's two younger siblings, the older Darling son. He is eight years old, and acts very mature for his age, in a sophisticated way unnatural to his age group. He is an analyzing thinker and good at strategy, for instance when he takes lead over the Lost Boys in capturing Indians and in fighting the pirates on board the ship. He wears large, black glasses, and is tall and slim. It is interesting to note that all the Darling children wore their nightgowns to Neverland, but he added a black top-hat and an umbrella, showing exaggerated maturity.
- Tommy Luske as Michael Darling: The youngest Darling child of the three, about four years old; he carries a teddy bear with him and is very sensitive. He is also a little clumsy, yet very playful.
- Hans Conried as George Darling: The Darling children's father. He is a very moody and dramatic figure. In the beginning of the film he is called "a practical man". He has had enough of the boys listening to Wendy's imaginary tales about Peter Pan, and in a moment of frustration he demands that Wendy's room be parted from the boy's room, saying she "has to grow up". He is easily irritated at the mere mention of Peter Pan, and expresses his dislike in a rage of temper. However, when cooled down in the end of the film, he changes his mind about Wendy's "crazy stories". He later remarks having seen a pirate ship such as Peter Pan's when he was very young himself. In contrast to his moody outbursts, he is gentle at heart; when he punishes the children by taking Nana the dog outside, he feels sorry for her and soothes her to comfort her.
- Heather Angel as Mary Darling: The Darling children's mother. She is much calmer and more understanding of her daughter's stories than her husband is, even though she takes them with a pinch of salt; saying Peter Pan is "the spirit of youth". When her husband is overwhelmed with frustration at the children, she tries to sooth him, and later on assures the children that their father doesn't really mean what he says when he is angry, and that he truly loves them very much, which is true. She is a wise, lovely woman, and kind at heart.
- Nana: The Darlings' nursemaid, a St. Bernard dog (originally a Newfoundland dog). She is an unnatural dog, taking care of the Darling children and cleaning up after their continuous messes. She is very efficient at her work, and possesses much tolerance to the messes she must cope with. She is the family's darling pet, a general favourite; so much that separating her from the children for one night was considered a great punishment.
- Hans Conried as Captain Hook: He is a pirate captain who seeks revenge on Pan for having his left hand chopped off and fed to the Crocodile in fair battle. He is a dangerous villain, with no conscience to recommend him, yet he is completely dependent on his personal assistant, Mr. Smee. He also turns out to be very childish in his fear of the crocodile, which wants to devour him (having had a taste of him long ago).
- Bill Thompson as Mr. Smee: Hook's personal assistant and the comic relief in the story, Mr. Smee is always being bossed around by Hook. The frustrated and bored crew men tease him by belly jabbing, locking him up in a treasure box tied, hooking his shirt on the wall and throwing darts at (almost) his belly.
- Corinne Orr as Tiger Lily: The Indian Chief's daughter. She is kidnapped by Hook who is determined to discover where Peter is. Peter rescues her, an act which is greatly rejoiced in celebrations by her people. She then dances with Peter and nose-kisses him (the Indian way of kissing), and arouses Wendy's jealousy. She only speaks once, crying briefly for help and then stays silent for the remainder of the film.
- The Crocodile: A crocodile who swallowed an alarm clock and is after the remains of Hook; Pan had cut off Hook's hand and threw it to the Crocodile. That little appetizer was so successful that he's been following Hook ever since. In comics published later on, his character was known as Tick-Tock the Croc.
- The Lost Boys: Pan's right-hand boys, dressed as various animals. Their names are Slightly (fox costume), Cubby (bear costume), Nibs (rabbit costume), Tootles (skunk costume) and the Twins (raccoon costumes). Their origin remains a mystery in the movie, especially since they claim to have once had mothers of their own. They are very savage-like boys, who get into fights easily with each other, but when they have a common goal to strive for, they act as one. Tootles never speaks.
- Robert Ellis as Cubby
- Jeffrey Silver as Nibs
- Jonny McGovern as Twins
- Stuffy Singer as Slightly
- Tony Butala as singing voices
- June Foray, Connie Hilton, Margaret Kerry, and Karen Kester as the mermaids: These mermaids are friends of Peter and are very interested in his heroic stories of himself. They are resentful of Wendy and try to drown her although Peter insists they "are only having fun". They are frightened away when Captain Hook is rowing nearby. The mermaids appear to be in their mid-teens, with very womanly exposed bodies, resembling women in two-part bathing suits or something of the kind.
- June Foray as Squaw, the wife of the Indian chief and Tiger Lily's mother. Very bossy.
- Bill Thompson as the other pirates: Several pirates are seen only in one scene in the movie. Afterwards, they are never seen again.
- Candy Candido as the Indian Chief/Big Chief: The leader of the Indians. Despite his fierce look, he is a kind and well-meaning leader. Apparently, he has fought the Lost Boys before, having noted that both his people and the Lost Boys have won and lost several times in combat.
- Tom Conway as the Narrator: The narrator's voice is heard only at the beginning of the film.
- The Mellomen (Thurl Ravenscroft, Bill Lee, Bob Stevens and Max Smith) as the Pirate Chorus and Indians.
The movie was adapted by Milt Banta, William Cottrell, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ted Sears, and Ralph Wright from the play and novel Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. The film was directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske.
Songs in film
The songs in Peter Pan were composed by Oliver Wallace, who composed the incidental music score.
- The Second Star To the Right - The Jud Conlon Chorus
- You Can Fly - The Jud Conlon Chorus
- Follow the Leader - John and Michael Darling; The Lost Boys
- What Made the Red Man Red - The Indian Tribe,
- Your Mother and Mine - Wendy Darling
- The Elegant Captain Hook - Captain Hook; Mr. Smee; The Pirates
- You Can Fly! (Reprise) - The Jud Conlon Chorus
- The CD compilation, Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic, contains the songs, "You Can Fly!" on the red disc, "The Second Star to the Right" on the blue disc, and "Following the Leader" on the green disc.
- On Disney's Greatest Hits, "You Can Fly!" is on the blue disc, and "The Second Star to the Right" is on the green disc.
- The 1997 soundtrack release contains the bonus tracks "Never Smile at a Crocodile" with lyrics; and an early demo recording of "The Boatswain's Song".
In 1990, when Disney announced that it would release Peter Pan on video, it had a promotional tie in with RJR Nabisco.
Release and later history
Peter Pan was first released in theaters on August 5, 1953. The film was a modest success and was also the highest-grossing film of 1953. Due to its modest success Peter Pan was re-released theatrically in 1958, 1969, 1976, 1982, 1989, 1994, 1999 And 2001. The film also had a special limited re-release at the Philadelphia Film Festival in 2003. It also played a limited engagement in select Cinemark Theatres from February 16–18, 2013. The movie has earned a lifetime gross of $87,404,651.
Home video release
Peter Pan was first released on VHS in 1990. A THX 45th anniversary limited edition of the film was then released on March 3, 1998 as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection. The first DVD release of Peter Pan was November 23, 1999 as a Walt Disney Limited Issue. Peter Pan had its first release on a special edition DVD in 2002 to promote the sequel, Return to Neverland. In 2007, Disney released a 2-disc Platinum Edition DVD of the film. A Blu-ray Diamond Edition of film was released on February 5, 2001 to celebrate the movie's 60th Anniversary.
- ↑ Pendleton, Jennifer. "RELEASE OF `NINJA TURTLES' WILL FUEL BUSY VIDEO-BUYING SEASON THIS FALL." Los Angeles Daily News at The Deseret News. July 22, 1990. Retrieved on September 6, 2011.
- ↑ Cinemark Announces the Return of Favorite Disney Classic Animated Movies to the Big Screen
- ↑ "Review: "Peter Pan" Diamond Edition Blu-ray soars with outstanding "Nine Old Men" bonus feature, gorgeous digital restoration". “Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Disney has released the timeless classic animated film “Peter Pan” onto Blu-ray for the first time with an impressive trip to Neverland given “Diamond Edition” treatment.”
- ↑ "Peter Pan Blu-ray Review". “Pardon the nostalgic digression, but Walt Disney's fourteenth animated feature, now celebrating its 60th anniversary, has the look and whimsy of a much younger production.”
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