Peter PanPeter Pan (1953) Feature Length Theatrical Animated Film by Dave Koch
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- Walt Disney Studios
- Animated Characters: Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy, John, Michael, George Darling, Mary Darling, Nana, Captain J. Hook, Mr. Smee, Pirates (Turk, Black Murphy, Mullins, Starkey, Skylights, Bill Jukes), The Lost Boys (Foxy, Rabbit, Raccoon, Twins, Chubby, Skunk), Tiger Lily, Indian Chief, Crocodile.
- Originally Released in 1953.
- Production Number: 2074
- Running Time: 76 minutes.
Cartoon Production Information:
The film featured Kathryn Beaumont- who had just starred as Alice in Disney's previous feature film- as Wendy. Disney regular Bobby Driscoll, who had previously appeared in Song Of The South and So Dear To My Heart was brought in as Peter's voice and close-up model; this would be Driscoll's last work at the studio. Sadly, he would die penniless and addicted to drugs in the back alleys of New York fifteen years later. He was buried as John Doe in Potter's Field, and it would be two years before he is identified by his fingerprints from the morgue.
One famous fallacy regarding this film is that Marilyn Monroe was the life model for Tinker Bell. As nice as it would be if that were true, it just isn't. Just look at Tink- she has a rather squat body- not Marilyn's hourglass. Actually it was Margaret Kerry who is the basis for Tinker Bell. She posed for reference film shots on a sound stage; the footage was later used by supervising Tinker Bell animator Marc Davis. Interestingly, Kerry also provided the voice of the redheaded mermaid in the film.
Another voice fact worth noting is that both George Darling and Captain Hook were voiced by the same man: Hans Conried.
When originally released, the film was a commercial success, earning $7 million against its budget of $4 million. It was the highest-grossing film of 1953.
This was the 14th film in the official Disney list of animated films.
Soon after, Walt reportedly played Peter Pan in a school play Sir James Barrie's 1904 play, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up was a perpetually performed hit from the moment of its premiere. Barrie himself adapted the play into the book Peter and Wendy in 1911. In shaping his adaptation of the classic play, Walt Disney used Barrie's original play notations, prompt notes, and scribbled stage directions to gain insight into what Barrie had in mind beyond dialog and scene descriptions.
Walt Disney acquired the film rights to Peter Pan from the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London (also known as the Hospital for Sick Children) in 1939. (A previous silent version of the stage play, made by Paramount Pictures with Betty Bronson playing Peter Pan, had been a hit in 1924-25.) Although the story was developed at Disney off and on over the next decade, it wasn't until 1949 that serious production began. As had been the case with Cinderella (1950) and Alice in Wonderland, much of Peter Pan's action was filmed with live actors as an aid to structural development and as a reference for movement.
Much as with Alice in Wonderland, the basis of Peter Pan in a time-honored popular classic left Disney wide-open to criticism, but few really found fault with the finished film. Its bright straightforwardness and fidelity to its origins keep Peter Pan a timeless adaptation to this day.
In its many stage incarnations, the androgynous quality of Peter Pan was heightened by the fact that the character was usually played by a woman. Walt Disney understood this as a stage convention but wanted Peter represented as a sprightly and mischievous boy. The elfin character design and limber character animation of Peter heighten his adolescent masculine qualities. Disney child actor Bobby Driscoll (Song of the South, Treasure Island) was the voice of Peter.
In the original play, Tinker Bell was never shown except as a projected beam of light. Animation legend Marc Davis created the feminine pixie seen in the Disney version, and although firmly established in legend, the figure of Tinker Bell is not based on Marilyn Monroe. The shapely pixie originated in the "pin-up girls" of World War II, Betty Grable among them, but Monroe was still a supporting actor and relative unknown at the time that Tinker Bell was developed. Margaret Kerry was the live-action reference model for Tinker Bell. Tinker Bell continued her Disney career as the introductory icon on decades of Disney television programs, as well as introducing spectacular fireworks displays at Disney theme parks.
For the live-action reference film used by the animation team, Hans Conried played Captain Hook (Conried provided the character's voice as well), dancer Roland Dupree was Peter Pan, and Margaret Kerry, Connie Hilton and June Foray (the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Witch Hazel) played mermaids. Don Barclay, who would later play Mr. Binnacle in Mary Poppins (1964), was the live model for Captain Hook's first mate Mr. Smee.
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