Peter Pan, Paramount’s 1924 Silent Classic

Peter Pan is a 1924 silent adventure film released by Paramount Pictures, the first film adaptation of the play by J. M. Barrie. The film, which closely follows the plot of the stage play, was directed by Herbert Brenon and starred Betty Bronson as Peter Pan.

The film incorporates much of the stage dialogue in the intertitles. Added scenes include Nana the dog pouring out Michael’s medicine and giving him a bath, and Nana bursting into the home at which a party is being given, to warn Mr. and Mrs. Darling that Peter Pan and the Darling children are flying around the nursery.

Peter Pan (1924)Like the original play and several other versions, and unlike the 1953 Disney film, the 1924 version makes it clear that Wendy harbors a romantic attachment to Peter, but Peter, to Wendy’s annoyance, only thinks of her as his mother. The film omits the scene An Afterthought, which Barrie wrote after the play was staged, and in which Peter returns for Wendy, only to find that years have passed and that she is now a married woman with a daughter.

Barrie selected Bronson for the role, and wrote additional scenes for the film, but Brenon stuck largely to the stage play. Peter Pan was first released in the United States on 29 December 1924. The distributor was Paramount Pictures. In Germany, where the premiere took place in December 1925, the distributor was Ufa.

Since there was no national film archive in the United States and Paramount had no interest in a long-term distribution of the film – distributors held movies only as long in the program as they earned money – most copies of Peter Pan were destroyed over the years.

For decades, only defective copies were available. In the 1990s James Card, film restorer and curator of George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, discovered a well-preserved copy which could be restored by David Pierce at the Disney Studios. Philip C. Carli composed new film music, which was performed by the Flower City Society Orchestra. The restored version was released on 8 April 2001 at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

[Text selected from Wikipedia article.]