Peter Pan


1h 16m 1953

Brief Synopsis

Adaptation of J. M. Barrie's story about a boy who never grew up. The three children of the Darling family receive a visit from Peter Pan, who takes them to Never Never Land where an ongoing war with the evil Pirate Captain Hook is taking place.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Feb 5, 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Walt Disney Productions
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Peter Pan by James M. Barrie (London, 27 Dec 1904).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Peter Pan, a sprite who lives in a fantastical world of Never Land and refuses to grow up, chooses to visit the Darling family of London, father George, mother Mary, daughter Wendy and sons John and Michael. In the house, the blustery Mr. Darling dismays Wendy, the oldest, with the information that soon she will have to move out of the nursery and into her own room. After embarrassing himself by tripping over the children's toys, Mr. Darling then insists that the children's nanny, a maternal Saint Bernard, be relieved of her duties and tied up outside. Before her parents leave for the night, Wendy asks her mother to leave the window open, hoping that Peter will return for his shadow, which she has stolen. Peter, with his little fairy friend Tinker Bell, are indeed awaiting the Darling parents' departure, and soon fly into the nursery, where Wendy insists on sewing Peter's shadow back to his body. Peter is at first wary of Wendy but soon warms to her maternal coddling, prompting Tinker Bell's jealousy, especially after Wendy unintentionally traps her in a drawer. Peter commands Wendy to accompany him to Never Land, where his band of Lost Boys long to hear bedtime stories. Wendy offers Peter a kiss in return, spurring Tinker Bell to free herself from the drawer and pull Peter away. The boys awaken, and upon learning of the opportunity to accompany Peter, agree to follow his orders. He soon teaches the Darlings to fly, which requires happy thoughts and a pinch of fairy dust, and spirits them away to Never Land. There, Peter's nemesis, Captain Hook, leads a band of vicious pirates, including the amiable Smee. Hook has hated Peter since the boy chopped off the pirate's hand and fed it to a crocodile, which now lusts for another taste of Hook. Luckily, the crocodile has swallowed an alarm clock, whose ticking warns Hook of the reptile's presence. Hook now plans to kidnap Tiger Lily, the daughter of the resident Indian chief, and force her to reveal the whereabouts of the Lost Boys's lair. When the pirate spots Peter approaching the island, along with the Darlings and Tinker Bell, he initiates an attack, firing cannons into the air. Peter instructs Tinker Bell to escort the children to the lair while he fights Hook, but instead she attempts to kill Wendy by waking the Lost Boys and informing them that a dangerous "Wendy Bird" is approaching. The boys shoot at Wendy until Peter returns to inform them of their mistake, and upon learning of Tinker Bell's scheme, banishes the fairy forever, or at least for a week. Peter then brings Wendy to meet the island's mermaids, leaving John to lead the Lost Boys in a raid on the Indians. The boys march across the island and soon find themselves surrounded by Indians, who lash them to a stake. Although the boys expect to be freed immediately, as usual, the chief informs them that they will all be killed unless the kidnapped Tiger Lily is returned to him by sunset. Meanwhile, Peter introduces Wendy to the mermaids, not realizing that they are in love with him. They try to drown Wendy, but Peter disciplines them. Just then, Hook sails by with Smee and the bound Tiger Lily. By impersonating the voice of a spirit, Peter tricks Hook into searching the nearby rocks, then mimics Hook's voice in order to command Smee to release Tiger Lily. Hook soon spots Peter and the two engage in a sword fight, which ends with the pirate hanging over a cliff by his hook. At that moment, the crocodile appears, terrifying the captain, who falls into its jaws. As Smee rescues Hook, Peter seizes Tiger Lily and brings her home. That night, while the boys celebrate with the Indians, Hook hears that Peter has banished Tinker Bell and resolves to trick the fairy into divulging Peter's lair. He entices Tinker Bell to the ship, where he stokes her jealousy and offers to "shanghai" Wendy if he can learn where she is staying. Tinker Bell happily shows Hook the entrance to the lair, down the trunk of Hangman's Tree, but soon finds herself imprisoned on the ship. In the lair, Peter commands the Darlings to remain with him but Wendy insists that they must return to their mother, prompting the Lost Boys to ask what a mother is. Wendy's fond recollections of mothers inspire the Boys to want to return home with her, infuriating Peter, who refuses to say goodbye. Wendy leads the boys out of the tree, but the pirates await and capture them, sending a bomb down to Peter disguised as a gift from Wendy. The children are taken to the ship and invited to become pirates, but Wendy, sure that Peter will save them, urges them all to walk the plank in rebellion. At the same time, Tinker Bell frees herself and rushes to warn Peter about the bomb, grabbing the package just as it explodes. Peter emerges from the debris unharmed, but finds Tinker Bell badly wounded. After tending to the fairy, Peter races to save Wendy from the plank and free the boys of their bonds. While Peter duels with Hook, the boys fight off the rest of the pirates. Hook tricks Peter into agreeing to fight without flying, and almost bests him, but Peter eventually triumphs. He consents to banish Hook instead of killing him, but the pirate attacks once again, and Peter pushes him into the mouth of the crocodile. While Smee and the pirates attempt to release Hook from the crocodile's jaws, Peter, with Tinker Bell, pilots the ship back to London. There, Mr. and Mrs. Darling have just returned from their evening out, and Mr. Darling has decided to allow Wendy and Nanny to remain in the nursery. Although the nursery at first looks empty, Mrs. Darling soon spots Wendy asleep by the window, and the boys appear in their beds. Wendy informs her parents that she is ready to grow up and relates the strange tales of the evening, which Mr. and Mrs. Darling dismiss as fantasy until they spot the pirate ship flying through the clouds. It is then that Mr. Darling recognizes Peter from his childhood, and the family admires the ship together.

Crew

Hal Ambro

Character anim

Ken Anderson

Layout

Dick Anthony

Backgrounds

Milt Banta

Story

Mary Blair

Col and styling

Sammy Cahn

Composer

Bob Carlson

Character anim

Frank Churchill

Composer

Les Clark

Director anim

Eric Cleworth

Character anim

Claude Coats

Col and styling

Tom Codrick

Layout

Jud Conlon

Vocal Arrangements

Robert O. Cook

Sound Recording

Bill Cottrell

Story

Don Da Gradi

Col and styling

Marc Davis

Director anim

Al Dempster

Backgrounds

Walt Disney

Presented By

Eyvind Earle

Backgrounds

Sammy Fain

Composer

Norm Ferguson

Director anim

Hugh Fraser

Character anim

Blaine Gibson

Effects anim

Don Griffith

Layout

Donald Halliday

Film Editor

Jerry Hathcock

Character anim

John Hench

Col and styling

Hugh Hennesy

Layout

Winston Hibler

Story

Winston Hibler

Composer

Ray Huffine

Backgrounds

Ralph Hulett

Backgrounds

Ub Iwerks

Special processes

Ollie Johnston

Director anim

Bill Justice

Character anim

Milt Kahl

Director anim

Ward Kimball

Director anim

Hal King

Character anim

Art Landy

Backgrounds

Eric Larson

Director anim

Jack Lawrence

Composer

John Lounsbery

Director anim

Don Lusk

Character anim

Brice Mack

Backgrounds

Dan Macmanus

Effects anim

Joshua Meador

Effects anim

Fred Moore

Character anim

Lance Nolley

Layout

Cliff Nordberg

Character anim

Ken O'brien

Character anim

A. Kendall O'connor

Layout

Bill Peet

Story

Erdman Penner

Composer

Erdman Penner

Story

Charles Philippi

Layout

Edward Plumb

Orchestration

Thor Putnam

Layout

Wolfgang Reitherman

Director anim

Art Riley

Backgrounds

Joe Rinaldi

Story

George Rowley

Effects anim

Ted Sears

Story

Ted Sears

Composer

C. O. Slyfield

Sound Director

Harold J. Steck

Sound Recording

Art Stevens

Character anim

Mclaren Stewart

Layout

Al Teeter

Music Editor

Frank Thomas

Director anim

Harvey Toombs

Character anim

Oliver Wallace

Composer

Oliver Wallace

Music Score

Clair Weeks

Character anim

Judge Whitaker

Character anim

Thelma Witmer

Backgrounds

Marvin Woodward

Character anim

Ralph Wright

Story

Victor Young

Composer

Al Zinnen

Layout

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Feb 5, 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Walt Disney Productions
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Peter Pan by James M. Barrie (London, 27 Dec 1904).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Frank Thomas (1912-2004)


Legendary Disney animator Frank Thomas, whose work ranged from such '30s classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to equally acclaimed modern hits like The Rescuers, died on September 8 in his home in Flintridge, California. He had been in declining health since suffering a brain hemorrhage several months ago. He was 92.

He was born on September 5, 1912 in Santa Monica, California. He showed an interest in art and drawing at a very young age, so it came as no surprise when he graduated from Stanford University in 1934 with a degree in art. Soon after, he began work for Walt Disney Studios and did his first animation for the short Mickey's Elephant in 1936, and was one of the key animators for the studios' first, feature-length animated picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). His memorable creations of the seven dwarfs offered an emotional sweep and humorous detail to animated characters that audiences had never experienced before, and his career was set.

Thomas' work from this point on would be nothing short of the high watermarks in Disney animation that is justly cherished the world over: the title character in Pinocchio, (1940); Thumper teaching Bambi to skate in Bambi (1941); the wicked stepmother in Cinderella (1950), the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (1951), the terrific fight sequence between Captain Hook and Peter Pan in Peter Pan (1953); the Lady and Rover falling in love over a dish of spaghetti and meatballs in Lady and the Tramp (1955); the three good fairies in Sleeping Beauty (1959); Baloo, Mowgli and Kaa in The Jungle Book (1967); and his final work of Bernard and Bianca in the underrated The Rescuers (1977).

Thomas retired from Disney in early 1978, ending a near 44-year relationship with the studio. With longtime friend, and fellow Disney collaborator Ollie Johnston, they went on to author many fine books about the art of animation, most notably Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life (Hyperian Press, 1978) and The Disney Villain (Hyperion Press, 1993). He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jeanette; sons Thomas, Doug and Gregg; daughter Ann Ayers; and three grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole
Frank Thomas (1912-2004)

Frank Thomas (1912-2004)

Legendary Disney animator Frank Thomas, whose work ranged from such '30s classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to equally acclaimed modern hits like The Rescuers, died on September 8 in his home in Flintridge, California. He had been in declining health since suffering a brain hemorrhage several months ago. He was 92. He was born on September 5, 1912 in Santa Monica, California. He showed an interest in art and drawing at a very young age, so it came as no surprise when he graduated from Stanford University in 1934 with a degree in art. Soon after, he began work for Walt Disney Studios and did his first animation for the short Mickey's Elephant in 1936, and was one of the key animators for the studios' first, feature-length animated picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). His memorable creations of the seven dwarfs offered an emotional sweep and humorous detail to animated characters that audiences had never experienced before, and his career was set. Thomas' work from this point on would be nothing short of the high watermarks in Disney animation that is justly cherished the world over: the title character in Pinocchio, (1940); Thumper teaching Bambi to skate in Bambi (1941); the wicked stepmother in Cinderella (1950), the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (1951), the terrific fight sequence between Captain Hook and Peter Pan in Peter Pan (1953); the Lady and Rover falling in love over a dish of spaghetti and meatballs in Lady and the Tramp (1955); the three good fairies in Sleeping Beauty (1959); Baloo, Mowgli and Kaa in The Jungle Book (1967); and his final work of Bernard and Bianca in the underrated The Rescuers (1977). Thomas retired from Disney in early 1978, ending a near 44-year relationship with the studio. With longtime friend, and fellow Disney collaborator Ollie Johnston, they went on to author many fine books about the art of animation, most notably Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life (Hyperian Press, 1978) and The Disney Villain (Hyperion Press, 1993). He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jeanette; sons Thomas, Doug and Gregg; daughter Ann Ayers; and three grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

But Peter, how do we get to Never Land?
- Wendy
Fly, of course.
- Peter Pan
Fly?
- Wendy
It's easy! All you have to do is to... is to... huh, that's funny.
- Peter Pan
What's the matter? Don't you know?
- Wendy
I say captain, do you hear something?
- Peter Pan
Captain!
- Smee
Why, captain. Shooting a man in the middle of his stanza? That's just not good form.
- Smee
Good form, Mr. Smee?
- Hook
Blast good form! Did Peter Pan show good form when he did this to me?
- Hook
What a pity Mr. Smee, I'm afraid we lost the dear captain,
- Peter Pan

Trivia

22 year-old Margaret Kerry (who measured 35-25-36) was the real-life model for Tinker Bell.

Although original author J.M. Barrie is credited, this is the only major film version of "Peter Pan" which does not use any of his original dialogue. Even the live-action musical versions use Barrie's original dialogue.

Kathryn Beaumont, who provided 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.

In compliance with the tradition of the stage version, the same actor, Hans Conried, performed the roles of both Mr. Darling and Captain Hook.

The melody for "The Second Star to the Right" was originally written for Alice in Wonderland (1951) for a song that was to be called "Beyond the Laughing Sky".

Notes

The film's voice-cast list is preceded by the phrase "With the talents of." The picture opens with an offscreen narrator describing the Darling family, whom "Peter Pan" chose to visit because they believed in him. The opening credits include the written statement: "Walt Disney Productions is grateful to the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London, to which Sir James M. Barrie gave his copyright of Peter Pan." Barrie's story about a boy who refused to grow up originated as nursery tales he told to the five grandsons (including Peter and Michael) of novelist George du Maurier. Peter Pan opened in London in December 1904, and Barrie's novelization, entitled Peter and Wendy, was first published in 1911.
       According to studio press materials, Disney considered producing an animated version of Barrie's play as early as 1935, and in 1939 arranged to secure screen rights from the hospital. A November 13, 1940 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that the film was beginning production, while a May 15, 1942 Hollywood Reporter article reported that the studio "was nearing completion" of preliminary work. At that point, however, a few months after the United States's entry into World War II, Disney shelved all fiction efforts in order to focus on the production of war films for the government.
       Production on Peter Pan resumed in early May 1949, at which point Daily Variety reported that the studio planned to release the film in 1951. The studio produced a live-action version of the story, or a working model, for the use of the animators. This version, as discussed in an August 1952 Los Angeles Times article, featured the actors and actresses who were the models for each character, including Margaret Kerry as "Tinker Bell" and a mermaid, Roland Dupree as Peter Pan, and June Foray and Connie Hilton as mermaids. Although some contemporary sources, including the February 1953 New Yorker review, assumed that Tinker Bell was modeled after Marilyn Monroe, studio materials refute this. In a February 2002 Los Angeles Times article, Kerry stated that the resemblance to Monroe arose from animator Marc Davis' decision to depict the bottom half of Tinker Bell as "womanly" while maintaining a more girlish appearance to the upper half. Tinker Bell has since become an iconographic symbol for the studio as well as part of the animated logo that introduces Disney's television program, The Wonderful World of Disney.
       In a June 1952 Los Angeles Examiner article, Disney asserted that he had taken pains to stay true to Barrie's play while making the story more cinematic. Disney retained many of the stage traditions, including casting the same the actor as both "Mr. Darling" and "Captain Hook." Most changes were received favorably by critics, particularly the fairy-girl appearance of Tinker Bell, who had always been represented by a beam of light in staged versions of the play. In addition, in the past Peter Pan had always been played by a female actor. Many critics expressed disappointment, however, with the omission of the scene in the play in which audience members save Tinker Bell by clapping if they believe in fairies.
       Although Disney stated in the June 1952 Los Angeles Examiner article that the film cost $3 million, all other sources estimate the final cost at $4 million. According to studio press materials, the final film used 500,000 separate drawings. On June 14, 1951, Hollywood Reporter asserted that the picture would be released for Christmas 1952, and on October 24, 1951, Daily Variety reported that CBS and NBC were in discussions with Disney for the rights to show portions of the touring stage show, which starred Veronica Lake and Lawrence Tibbett, on their Christmas day broadcast. At the time of Peter Pan's release, in February 1953, the reviews were universally laudatory.
       According to an April 8, 1953 Daily Variety news item, the studio prepared a radio version of the film to be broadcast in Korea and China, with original songs and dialogue to be dubbed into each country's languages. Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a version of the film on December 21, 1953, starring Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont and John Carradine. In October 1955, as noted in a August 3, 1955 Daily Variety news item, Disney's in-house distribution arm, Buena Vista, officially took over distribution of the film from RKO. The article also stated that the film had earned $7 million at that point. After six theatrical re-releases, the studio made Peter Pan available on videotape in May 1990, at which point The Wall Street Journal reported the picture's profits as $145 million.
       A staging of Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard, opened on Broadway on October 20, 1954. That version was filmed for broadcast on NBC on March 1955, and was re-broadcast annually for many years after. Other film adaptations of Peter Pan include the 1925 Paramount feature Peter Pan, directed by Herbert Brenon and starring Betty Bronson (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30), and a 2002 Disney straight-to-video sequel to the feature, entitled Return to Never Land. Animators for that film, according to a February 19, 2002 Los Angeles Times article, used the original Peter Pan working model to illustrate characters. Steven Spielberg directed a 1991 version for TriStar Pictures called Hook, which envisioned Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, as an adult. Universal, Columbia and Revolution produced a live-action version of Peter Pan in 2003, directed by P. J. Hogan and starring Jeremy Sumpter and Jason Isaacs. In 2004's biographical feature film Finding Neverland, Johnny Depp portrayed Barrie during the years in which he conceived and wrote Peter Pan. That film received several Academy Award nominations, including Best Film and Best Actor, and won the Oscar for Best Original Score (Jan A. P. Kaczmarek).

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter February 5, 1953

Re-released in United States July 14, 1989

Released in United States on Video September 21, 1990

Released in United States March 1985

Released in United States Winter February 5, 1953

Re-released in United States July 14, 1989

Released in United States on Video September 21, 1990

Released in United States March 1985 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Fabulous Fifty-Hour Filmex Fantasy Marathon) March 14-31, 1985.)