Peter Pan – 1924 Silent Movie

July 5, 2019 @ 7:30 pm
Historic Ironwood Theatre
Peter Pan - 1924 Silent Movie @ Historic Ironwood Theatre
                     Admission Free but donations encouraged
Peter Pan is a 1924 silent adventure film released by Paramount Pictures, the first film adaptation of the play by J. M. Barrie. It was directed by Herbert Brenon and starred Betty Bronson as Peter Pan and Mary Brian as Wendy Darling. It also featured Ernest Torrence as Captain Hook, Virginia Browne Faire as Tinker Bell, and groundbreaking Chinese American actress Anna May Wong, as the Indian princess Tiger Lily.

The film was celebrated at the time of its release for its innovative use of special effects (mainly to show Tinker Bell and the flying sequences). In 2000, the United States Library of Congress deemed it “culturally significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Although Barrie wrote a screenplay with additional scenes to take advantage of the greater freedom which the medium of film would allow, director Brenon used a screenplay by Willis Goldbeck based largely on the stageplay, using bits of original stage dialogue in the intertitles.

Anticipating that UK audiences would object to the film being Americanized, but that American audiences would respond better with some yankee touches, some scenes were shot with two versions. For example, when the Lost Boys take command of the Jolly Roger, they raise the Union Jack in the UK version, and the Stars and Stripes in the US version. Similarly there are lines in the US version referring to the boys as “American gentlemen” and whether or not Peter would grow up to be “president”.

Like so many silent-era films, for many years it was believed lost. A copy was discovered in the collection of a film buff who preserved and watched the films for his own entertainment at a disused cinema. Although filmed in black and white, the prints were tinted: most scenes were in warm sepia, but a few outdoor nighttime scenes were tinted bluish to suggest moonlight.

Tim Mesun, will accompany the film on the Barton Organ with his own original score, developed specifically for this screening. He recently graduated (magna cum laude) from NMU with a degree in piano performance and received the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award for Special Achievement in the Music Department. He wrote original compositions which were performed by the NMU Jazz Band, NMU Jazz Combo, and NMU String Quartet. He performed Rhapsody in Blue for senior recital.

Tim is well known around Ironwood for his numerous benefit concerts in aid of various local charities. Tim has frequently been involved with local theatre, including as a band member and rehearsal pianist for Theatre North’s various musical productions, where has also created original music for a number of shows. Tim performs Barton organ preludes before most shows at HIT.