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Peter Pan Movie Review

voice disney darling story

1953 – Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske –

James M. Barrie's story of the boy who refuses to grow up has been told in a variety of forms, from his own exceptionally popular stage play to his novelization, then later to a successful television musical with Mary Martin and Walt Disney's animated version. Barrie loyalists prefer the live stage version, but many children know the story only through the cartoon feature. It contains many of the elements of the original. First is the transformation of the grumpy father, Mr. Darling, into the nefarious Captain Hook. The animated version retains only the same voice, while the stage show uses the same actor for both roles, so the parallel is not so obvious in the movie. Second is the magic of flight, rendered much more believably through animation, since there are no wires or tracks to limit the actors. The movie also indulges Barrie's sweetly sentimental emphasis on mothers, both Wendy's own understanding mother and Wendy's attempt to nurture the Lost Boys.

Finally, the Disney version has the important ingredient of play. Play is a complex issue in the story. It sometimes makes modern audiences wince in embarrassment when the stereotypical Indians break into the song “What Makes the Red Man Red?” But these are not real Native Americans, any more than Neverland is a real place. Neverland is an elaborate playground, with mermaids and Indians and pirates all rubbing elbows together. Fights never last, no one is really hurt—even the youngest viewer knows that Captain Hook will elude the ravenous crocodile to fight another day. The movie is an extension of the nursery; we must all grow up and leave it, but as even Mr. Darling comes to realize, our memories of that childhood time are always there within us.

By the time of the making of Peter Pan, Walt Disney had become involved in live-action films and the design of a revolutionary kind of theme park, so this is the first animated feature that has little of Walt's own direction. He still attended story meetings and gave advice on small details like the expression of the crocodile. While many worried about the fate of such a feature without Disney's direct supervision, Peter Pan was a much bigger box-office success than the previous movie, Alice in Wonderland.

Cast: Bobby Driscoll (voice of Peter Pan), Kathryn Beaumont (voice of Wendy), Hans Conried (voice of Captain Hook and Mr. Darling), Bill Thompson (voice of Smee), Heather Angel (voice of Mrs. Darling), Paul Collins (voice of John), Tommy Luske (voice of Michael), Candy Candido (voice of Indian Chief), Tom Conway (Narrator) Screenwriter: Milt Banta, William Cottrell, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet Composer: Sammy Cahn, Frank Churchill Producer: Walt Disney Running Time: 77 minutes Format: VHS, LV.

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