All it takes is faith and trust…and something I forgot….dust.
Peter Pan will forever and always be one of my favorite animated Disney films. It is beautifully created – from the artwork, the script, the character development, everything. Is my real love because of my own personal “not wanting to grow up?” Perhaps. On the other hand, I have very strong memories of eating in a local restaurant when I was fiveish years old where I would pretend that the Tick-Tock Croc was around and if I put my feet down he would eat me. But you’re not here to read about my childhood. Let’s move on.
We are in our third film taken from British literature. (The Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland being our previous films.) Was it because Walt had a fascination with the Brits? Not so much.
As with Alice, Walt had experience with the story of Peter Pan since he was a young boy. In 1913, at the tender age of 12, Walt watched a touring company’s stage performance of Peter Pan, written by J.M. Barrie. You see, the original written work was a stage play, not a film nor a storybook. Eleven years later, a popular silent film version of Peter Pan was released, which Walt also saw. Once Walt’s company was booming, the idea would not leave him alone.
Peter Pan was in some sort of development since the late 1930s, around the same time Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was being made. In 1939, Walt had acquired the screen rights. The rights had to be given by a children’s hospital in London, as that is who J.M. Barrie had left them to in his will. With the rights in hand, there was no stopping Walt….except…..the war. Despite having storyboards made and a basic structure to the film, Peter Pan had to be put on hold.
In the original Disney concept for Peter Pan, Nana, the dog was to travel with Wendy, John, and Michael to Neverland. I would love to have seen that version, but alas, the company had other plans.
In other versions discussed by the Walt Disney Company, Captain Hook was killed, the children never came back, and other darker themes emerged. Eventually, they decided to go the more light-hearted route
After the war, Walt needed some financial success in the box office to keep his company afloat. It was not the time to bring back Peter. However, after the success es of both Cinderella and Alice, Walt could finally bring back his dear boy.
Fun facts about Peter Pan:
This film is the first time than Peter was played by a male. The stage Peter is traditionally played by a female.
The song, “The Second Star to the Right” was originally composed for Alice in Wonderland.
Walt Disney, himself, disliked the character of Peter Pan in his version.
It was, sadly, the last film where each of the “Nine Old Men” worked as directing animators.
It is also the last film distributed by RKO Pictures before Walt founded his own distribution company.
The Tick-Tock Croc originally had his own theme song with lyrics. While the melody can still be heard in the film, the lyrics were cut. However, you can hear the lyrics in Walt Disney World’s Hallowishes fireworks show and in some promotional material.
Blah Blah Blah….Michael Jackson’s favorite movie….Blah Blah Blah.
The original story is much much darker….almost all of the Indians die, pirates are shot all the time, there’s poison, and fairies…well, don’t say that you don’t believe.
People Involved in the Creation of Peter Pan:
Peter Pan welcomes back the lovely Kathryn Beaumont as the voice of Wendy Moira Angela Darling. She also provided the voice of Alice in Alice in Wonderland. She also provided the live action reference for Wendy.
Bobby Driscoll appears as the voice of Peter Pan. This would be his sixth film for the Disney company. Previously we’ve seen him in Melody Time. He was also in Disney’s Song of the South, Treasure Island, and So Dear to My Heart. Bobby would also be used as the film reference.
Bill Thompson, the voice of Smee, was also the voice of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, and we’ll see him again in Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats, and Sleeping Beauty.
Candy Candido, the voice of the Indian Chief, appeared in Fun and Fancy Free and will later appear in Robin Hood and The Great Mouse Detective.
A young actress by the name of Margaret Kelly (not Marilyn Monroe) provided the live action reference for Tinkerbell.
And last but not least, take some time to view some beautiful concept art by the talented and amazing Mary Blair. If you’d like to see more (and read the story of Peter Pan), check out the book which is illustrated using her concept art.
J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is in public domain and can be downloaded for free from amazon.com.
For other interpretations/versions of J.M. Barrie’s story:
As far as Disney, there is a Peter Pan sequel – Return to Neverland and a series of Tinkerbell movies. I hate all of them and wish not to discuss them.
(Also – I do believe in fairies…I do…I do!)