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HISTORY

The film begins with the following title cards: “A NOTE on the Acting of a Fairy Play. The difference between a Fairy Play and a realistic one is that in the former all the characters are really children with a child’s outlook on life. This applies to the so-called adults of the story as well as the young people. Pull the beard off the fairy king, and you would find the face of a child.” “This, then, is the spirit of the play. And it is necessary that all of you—no matter what age you may have individually attained—should be children. PETER PAN will laughingly blow the fairy dust in your eyes and presto! You’ll all be back in the nursery, and once more you’ll believe in fairies, and the play moves on. – J. M. Barrie.” The film ends with this title card: “And so it will go on as long as children are gay and innocent and heartless.”
       According to a 16 Feb 1924 Exhibitors Trade Review item, the Famous Players-Lasky Corp. held the film rights to James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in abeyance for several years while theater actress Maude Adams, who appeared as the title character in the original 1904 play and subsequent successful Broadway productions, decided whether or not to reprise the role on stage. Once Adams passed on the opportunity to return, Famous Players-Lasky Corp. began an extensive search for a suitable screen actress. Contemporary sources indicated that Gloria Swanson, Viola Dana, Betty Compson, May McAvoy, Marilyn Miller, and Mary Hay were among those considered. Although an 11 Mar 1924 FD item suggested Mary Pickford was also ... More Less

The film begins with the following title cards: “A NOTE on the Acting of a Fairy Play. The difference between a Fairy Play and a realistic one is that in the former all the characters are really children with a child’s outlook on life. This applies to the so-called adults of the story as well as the young people. Pull the beard off the fairy king, and you would find the face of a child.” “This, then, is the spirit of the play. And it is necessary that all of you—no matter what age you may have individually attained—should be children. PETER PAN will laughingly blow the fairy dust in your eyes and presto! You’ll all be back in the nursery, and once more you’ll believe in fairies, and the play moves on. – J. M. Barrie.” The film ends with this title card: “And so it will go on as long as children are gay and innocent and heartless.”
       According to a 16 Feb 1924 Exhibitors Trade Review item, the Famous Players-Lasky Corp. held the film rights to James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in abeyance for several years while theater actress Maude Adams, who appeared as the title character in the original 1904 play and subsequent successful Broadway productions, decided whether or not to reprise the role on stage. Once Adams passed on the opportunity to return, Famous Players-Lasky Corp. began an extensive search for a suitable screen actress. Contemporary sources indicated that Gloria Swanson, Viola Dana, Betty Compson, May McAvoy, Marilyn Miller, and Mary Hay were among those considered. Although an 11 Mar 1924 FD item suggested Mary Pickford was also interested in the project, the 15 May 1924 FD dismissed the rumors, stating Pickford had no intention to produce or appear onscreen. In Nov 1924, The Educational Screen announced that Barrie himself viewed screen tests and selected relatively unknown teenage actress Betty Bronson. The theatrical tradition of casting petite actresses as the boy Peter Pan began at the very start, with Maude Adams, because it was easier to maneuver them in harnesses around the stage.
       The 19 Feb 1924 Moving Picture World reported that Barrie made notes to producers, which included the following: "The flying must be far better and more elaborate than in the acted play, and should cover of course a far wider expanse. [Flying] should show at once that the film can do things Peter Pan which the ordinary stage cannot do. It should strike a note of wonder in the first [scene] and whet the appetite for marvels." He also added a mermaid lagoon, a fairy wedding, and a flashback of Hook losing his hand, but the studio discarded most of them.
       The 4 Oct 1924 Exhibitors Trade Review stated that production was set to begin following director Herbert Brenon’s return from England, where he conferred with the author and scenarist Willis Goldbeck. According to the 27 Dec 1924 Moving Picture World, principal photography began 15 Sep 1924 and continued until mid-Dec 1924. Although originally intended to take place at the Paramount Pictures studio in Long Island, NY, all filming was completed at the company’s West Coast facility. The Aug 1924—Jan 1925 issue of Motion Picture Magazine reported that Brenon recruited members of the Nakota, an indigenous people in Western Canada, to portray the Native inhabitants of “Neverland.” Roy Pomeroy received assistant director credit because he designed the special visual effects, including flying children and miniatures.
       According to Frederick C. Szebin in the Oct 1995 American Cinematographer, George Ali was the only actor from the stage play. From inside his "Nana" costume, he controlled the dog's eyes, ears, mouth, and tail with strings. Much of the film was shot on Catalina Island, CA. Fencing master Henri Uytennhave gave instructions and supervised the fight scenes.
       Moving Picture World announced that the picture opened nationally in 250 theaters on 28 Dec 1924. According to Szebin, the film earned over $2 million during its first weekend.
       The Jun 1924 The Educational Screen listed Peter Pan as one of “The Ten Best [Films] for 1924-25.”
       For many years it was thought that, like so many other silent films, Peter Pan was lost. However, a 35mm print turned up at George Eastman House in the 1950s. The copy has since been restored by Martin Scorsese's The Film Foundation and released on DVD. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Oct 1995.
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
16 Feb 1924
p. 4.
Exhibitors Trade Review
4 Oct 1924
p. 19.
Exhibitors Trade Review
10 Jan 1925
p. 46.
Film Daily
11 Mar 1924.
---
Film Daily
15 May 1924.
---
Film Daily
11 Jan 1925.
---
Motion Picture Magazine
Aug 1924--Jan 1925
p. 78.
Motion Picture Magazine
Aug 1924--Jan 1925
p. 90.
Moving Picture World
19 Feb 1924.
---
Moving Picture World
27 Dec 1924
p. 856.
Moving Picture World
10 Jan 1925
p. 136.
New York Times
29 Dec 1924
p. 11.
Photoplay
Jul--Dec 1924
p. 97.
Photoplay
Mar 1925
p. 44.
Picture-Play Magazine
Mar--Aug 1924
p. 32.
The Educational Screen
Nov 1924
p. 354.
The Educational Screen
Jun 1925
p. 358.
Variety
31 Dec 1924
p. 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Adolph Zukor and Jesse L. Lasky Present
J. M. Barrie's
A Herbert Brenon Production
A Paramount Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst by
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
SET DECORATOR
Settings by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Peter Pan by James M. Barrie (London, 27 Dec 1904).
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 December 1924
Production Date:
15 September--mid December 1924
Copyright Claimant:
Famous Players-Lasky Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 December 1924
Copyright Number:
LP20980
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
9,593
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At night, in London, England, George and Mrs. Darling’s three children--Wendy, John, and Michael—and dog Nana are asleep in the family nursery, when Nana wakens Michael for a bath. Mrs. Darling comes in and sees a boy outside the second story window, but he disappears. She tells the children and her husband, George Darling, that she saw the boy a week earlier inside the room, but chased him out and slammed the window on his shadow, cutting it off from him. She put the shadow in a drawer. George takes Nana to the doghouse outside, and Mrs. Darling assures the children that nothing can hurt them after she turns out the light. After she leaves, Tinker Bell, a tiny fairy, enters and flits around the room, followed by Peter Pan, who has come to retrieve his shadow. Wendy awakens and introduces herself. When Peter cannot get the shadow to stick to his feet, Wendy sews it on, and the boy dances around the room. He tells her he ran away from home on the day he was born, lived among the fairies, and never grew up. He is worried, though, because the fairies are getting old, and every time a child expresses disbelief in fairies, another one dies. As proof of their existence, Peter points to Tinker Bell, who becomes jealous as Peter kisses Wendy. He must be off to Never Never Land because the Lost Boys fear being attacked by pirates whenever he is away. However, he would like to take Wendy and her brothers with him, so that she can be everyone’s mother. He offers to show them how to fly, and after a sprinkling of pixie ... +


At night, in London, England, George and Mrs. Darling’s three children--Wendy, John, and Michael—and dog Nana are asleep in the family nursery, when Nana wakens Michael for a bath. Mrs. Darling comes in and sees a boy outside the second story window, but he disappears. She tells the children and her husband, George Darling, that she saw the boy a week earlier inside the room, but chased him out and slammed the window on his shadow, cutting it off from him. She put the shadow in a drawer. George takes Nana to the doghouse outside, and Mrs. Darling assures the children that nothing can hurt them after she turns out the light. After she leaves, Tinker Bell, a tiny fairy, enters and flits around the room, followed by Peter Pan, who has come to retrieve his shadow. Wendy awakens and introduces herself. When Peter cannot get the shadow to stick to his feet, Wendy sews it on, and the boy dances around the room. He tells her he ran away from home on the day he was born, lived among the fairies, and never grew up. He is worried, though, because the fairies are getting old, and every time a child expresses disbelief in fairies, another one dies. As proof of their existence, Peter points to Tinker Bell, who becomes jealous as Peter kisses Wendy. He must be off to Never Never Land because the Lost Boys fear being attacked by pirates whenever he is away. However, he would like to take Wendy and her brothers with him, so that she can be everyone’s mother. He offers to show them how to fly, and after a sprinkling of pixie dust, Wendy, John, and Michael are happily flying around the room. From her doghouse, Nana sees the strange goings on, breaks her leash, and alerts the Darlings, but by the time they get to the nursery, the children are flying away above the roofs of London. Reaching Never Never Land, they fly to the Forest of Make-Believe, where the Lost Boys live. However, the jealous Tinker Bell has flown ahead and alerted one of the boys that Wendy is their enemy and he must shoot her out of the sky with an arrow. Elsewhere, Captain Hook and his pirates land on the shore, where a crocodile tries to eat him. During a sword fight some time ago, Peter Pan cut off the captain’s hand and fed it to the crocodile, and since then the reptile wants to complete the meal. To let himself know when the crocodile is near, Captain Hook tosses it a loudly ticking clock, which it swallows. Elsewhere, Wendy recovers from the fall and is unhurt because the arrow only hit the thimble that Peter had previous put around her neck. Peter gets angry at Tinker Bell for telling the lie and orders her away for at least a week. The Lost Boys adopt Wendy as their mother. Meanwhile, aboard the pirate ship moored off the coast, Captain Hook plans to attack the Lost Boys that night in their underground home. On the island, the local Indians pledge not to let the pirates harm the children. Tiger Lily, a maiden, is especially protective because she loves Peter. When Peter tells Wendy he wants to be her son, he is puzzled by her reaction, because it seems that, like Tiger Lily, the Darling girl appears to expect something else from him. Captain Hook kidnaps the children after a fierce fight with the Indians and Peter goes to the pirate ship to free them. The children fight and subdue the pirates. After Captain Hook is forced to walk the plank, Peter returns with the Darling children to their nursery. Wendy asks him to stay, but Peter refuses and returns to his home in the woods. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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