Here’s a welcome new addition to the HD silent film club. The 1924 version of Peter Pan has been a longtime crowdpleaser.
As always, thanks to Kino Lorber for the review copy!
This edition is marked for regions A, B and C so viewers outside of North America should be able to play the disc with no issues. It was released on July 9, 2019 and can be ordered here.
The score is the same Philip C. Carli orchestral music that was found on Kino’s DVD release and it sounds as great as ever. We also get a commentary from historian Kat Ellinger, a booklet essay by Frederick C. Szebin and an interview with Esther Ralston, who played Mrs. Darling.
This isn’t a review of the film itself, just the disc, but I do want to note that the cast of this picture is part of the reason why it is so beloved: Betty Bronson, Mary Brian, Ernest Torrence, Anna May Wong… pretty much the best of Paramount.
As always, I have cropped the pillar boxes but have not altered the screencaps in any way.
As you can see, this looks pretty darn gorgeous. If you already have the Kino DVD, this will be a definite image upgrade. And considering the quality of the imagery and special effects, you will want those extra pixels. (Tinkerbell looks particularly nice in HD.)
Fans are excited about this one for a reason and it’s also worth celebrating as a recovered film. All copies were thought lost until two prints emerged. Hurray for us!
To me, here in Peter Pan, Betty Bronson looks a lot like Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”). She’s a cutie!
This was definitely her breakout role.
It’s good to see this again. I’m always a bit afraid that of the orchestral work I’ve done for films, this is the only one that will be remembered (as if that really matters very much, or at all). I still love the film, though; it was through my playing it on piano at the National Film Theatre in London at Christmastime that I received the commission, and I’d never written a piece of music lasting more than eight minutes before. It’s interesting that although you mention the cast as being “the best of Paramount”, with which I agree, at the time it was regarded by the studio as being just north of a “B” cast. All the players were young or supporting actors, none were stars _per se_ (the closest being Ernest Torrence), and because of Brenon’s and Barrie’s commitment to the project it became very much an ensemble piece. And it was very appropriate that it was Paramount’s Christmas release because the original 1904 stage play was something of a sophisticated Christmas pantomime, down to having a “Principal Boy” (the trouser role of Peter) and audience participation (in Tinker Bell’s poisoning and recovery). Unfortunately, that tradition wasn’t prevalent in the US, and the film actually did not make much money going into early 1925, though the children who _did_ see it were enchanted (I met a lady in her 90s in Indianapolis who was inspired by it as a five-year old to run away to Never-Never Land; she got as far as her grandmother’s down the street to say good-bye and then fell asleep in front of the fireplace).
Congratulations on the new release to a new audience, in any case! I hadn’t seen the film in quite a stretch and enjoyed the music very much.
This picture is definitely one that seems to have built its audience slowly. It’s not Metropolis-level popular but just about everyone who sees it likes it, has a good time and wants to see it again and what more can you ask for? Well, not so many Never-Never Land runaways perhaps? 😉
In any case, I’m glad your work was featured again for this release because it really does deserve a special score.
For the first time in long while I ran my Kino tape a year or so ago, planning then to discard it along with most of my other VHS’s. I kept it solely because of your superb score & am pleased to have this additional background–I had no idea it was your first long commission. Great to see it now in a superior format & I’m hoping your “Volga Boatman” may also soon be available, another VHS that survived the cut.
I just watched it for the first time last week and was blown away with this version and how well everything from the cast, story, to the excellent score, and the lengthy informative interview with Esther Ralston included as an extra which talked about her time at Paramount, MGM, and her work abroad.
It’s a very nice package of content.
It looks grand, and have ordered! D.P. on Peter Pan was the indomitable James Wong Howe whose career spanned decades up to and including the Paul Newman film Hud (a personal favorite for its stunning black and white photography), and beyond. He shot his last film in 1975. Wrote a term paper on Howe long ago at U. of Toronto. He was quite a guy.
He was indeed!
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