Peter Pan (1924)
Article 5560 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Herbert Brenon
Featuring Betty Bronson, Ernest Torrance, George Ali
What it is: Fantasy
A flying boy who never wants to grow up meets a girl and takes her to Never Never Land to be a mother to the Lost Boys. However, Never Never Land is also a world of pirates…
I’ve never read or seen the original play by J.M. Barrie, so I can’t say how closely the various versions of the story hone to the original story. All I can say is that of the various versions I’ve seen, this one is my favorite (and, yes, that means I like it better than the Disney version). It manages to avoid feeling like a photographed stage play while retaining some of the crucial elements that would make a viewing of the stage play a magical experience; I love the fact that both Nana the dog and the crocodile are played by actors in costume. For me, the story in this one feels more complete and unified; the other versions I’ve seen feel more episodic. A couple of odd elements stand out. The movie breaks the fourth wall on one occasion by exhorting audience members to clap their hands in order to save Tinkerbell’s life (which I suspect is from the original play), and for some odd reason, there’s a streak of American patriotism in this version; given that J.M. Barrie is Scottish and this is primarily an English story, this nationalism feels a bit forced.