#14 Peter Pan

#14 Peter Pan

He’s climbing in your windows, snatching your children up

This week’s post is on another movie in which Kathryn Beaumont plays a young girl who goes to a magical world where Bill Thompson voices the silly side character who serves the antagonist. Wow, I did not realize how similar Alice and Peter Pan were! Yep, this week is Peter Pan, the animated adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s play/novel. For those unfamiliar with the story, it’s about three siblings (Wendy, John, and Michael Darling) who get taken on an adventure to the island of Neverland by the mischievous Peter Pan, a boy who can fly and never grows up. Peter Pan was a favorite in my house when I was little and the material holds a special place in my heart as the 1998 revival of the Tony-Award winning 1954 stage musical was my very first Broadway show!

Walt had an interest in making Peter Pan since the mid-30’s and attained the animation rights in 1939. He and the team considered several different ways to adapt the play, including one in which Peter outright kidnaps Wendy?? But, Walt decided that was “too dark” and he should stick to what Barrie wrote, which, no duh. They did change other aspects of the plot from the play, such as Wendy discovering the shadow instead of her mother, Tinker Bell being tricked into giving away Peter’s hideout instead of doing it on her own cuz she’s a snitch, and having Hook bomb Peter instead of poisoning him. A major part of the the play and musical productions is when Tinker Bell dies and must be revived through the audience clapping, but Walt decided it was best to change that as well, as it would be difficult to accomplish in a film. Could you imagine sitting in a movie theater where no one clapped? Yikes.

As mentioned many times before now, the wartime era brought on production delays, and during those years the studio considered casting options, story ideas, and the other films in development (Cinderella and Alice). In the late ’40’s, once the war was over and the studio was gaining money again, production resumed. After many various story edits, a final version was decided upon. Beaumont, who voiced Alice, provided the voice of Wendy. And Bobby Driscoll voiced the titular character. If you remember Melody Time (though I wouldn’t blame you if you blocked it out) and the Pecos Bill short with all the cowboys, Bobby was the kid who didn’t like that women were a part of the story. At one point, Cary Grant (Cary freaking Grant) was in talks to play Captain Hook, and I want to know what happened there.

The film was received well, with nearly all critics commending the animation. Some noted that the film diverged from it’s source material, and while I’m usually a stickler for faithful book adaptions, it was probably for the best as Barrie’s play gets quite dark for a story about kids, pirates, and mermaids, and Disney’s film brings out the fun of Barrie’s work (as opposed to Hunchback which is a light take on a dark book that has NO fun for kids whatsoever, but we’ll get to that in 43 years). However, the film has certainly not aged gracefully, as it contains far too many scenes negatively and stereotypically depicting Native Americans. I am unable to say how much of this was Disney and how much was Barrie – I know that the Native Americans are in the play, but, as I haven’t read it, I don’t know how they are depicted. Either way, it’s cringe city.

Peter Pan is another very recognizable classic, stretching into the cultural zeitgeist beyond Disney Studios. The character of Peter is a staple in Disney parks, along with Wendy, Captain Hook, and Mr. Smee. Of course, Tinker Bell flies down after the castle fireworks shows. There’s also the ride Peter Pan’s Flight, found in several of the parks, which is very popular – seriously, it always has like an hour long wait, it’s crazy. Peter Pan is also one of the most milked Disney properties. There was the sequel Peter Pan: Return to Never Land, which follows Wendy’s daughter, Jane. Tinker Bell has her own series of movies. A live-action remake is currently in production. There have been quite a few non-Disney live-action adaptations including one in 2003, Pan in 2015, and Hook in 1991, starring the beloved Robin Williams. There was also the (infamous?) televised production of the musical with Allison Williams as Peter and Christopher Walken playing a very, um, interesting version of Captain Hook where he coughs, mumbles, and talks like Christopher Walken.

Join me in watching and get your happy thoughts ready, we’re flying to the second star on the right and straight into the movie!

My thoughts on Peter Pan:

  • “This time it happened in London” so does Peter have friends in other cities?
  • Hmm Wendy’s voice sounds familiar
  • Sort of looks familiar, too
  • “she was the supreme authority on Peter Pan and all his marvelous adventures” Wendy was the OG Stan
  • WAIT their stories are like OG fanfiction!!
  • Now all they need is some fanart and a Tumblr page dedicated to Peter Pan photo edits
  • As an adult I still don’t get what tonic is
  • Nana is such a good dog
  • This big old house and these kids don’t have paper?
  • Michael is so precious
  • If Wendy didn’t even know her brother’s used their dads shirtfront as a map, why is it her fault?? She didn’t TELL them to do that
  • And didn’t the mom tell the stories to Wendy? By his logic, he should be mad at her
  • Oh my gosh they are all HORRIFIED at the eldest child and only girl getting her own room?!
  • This is so funny, the quick cuts to their reactions, like it’s a horror movie
  • Wendy you can still go into your brothers room can’t you? It’s not like you’re moving houses…
  • Also why wouldn’t you want your own room?? I think anyone with (a) sibling(s) would agree that no matter how much they love them, they want their own room
  • “Poor Nana” and everyone rushes to the dog instead of the dad after that fall – that’s the 100% CORRECT reaction
  • I love everyone in this family except George
  • Noo!! Nana!!!
  • Nana being put outside should have the same reaction as Wendy moving rooms
  • George, maybe your kids and wife would care about you more if you weren’t, ya know, a raging jerk over small problems and bedtime stories
  • She’s a good mom, I like that she’s comforting and validating
  • “the buwied tweasure” Michael, you are the cutest
  • I understand the mom not believing the shadow story, but wouldn’t you still want to lock the window? Especially since they’ll be home alone for hours?
  • What if a real burglar comes climbing through your kids window?
  • But George and Mom (she needs a name gosh darn it) the kids aren’t even being left alone WITH Nana cuz Nana’s out back and if someone sneaks in the front door or window, she’ll never know!
  • “There must have been someone” good point Mom, a real, dangerous stranger could have been at your kids window. All the more reason you should have LOCKED THE WINDOW
  • Peter looks suupper creepy up on the roof
  • Is Tink looking up her own dress?
  • Oh good, the tiny pixie is worried about her weight
  • Oohhh my gosh Wendy can you take a breath
  • “Get on with it girl” EXCUSE YOU
  • “Wendy’s enough” blech
  • Stab him with the needle wendy
  • This movie makes a strong case for “never meet your heroes”
  • Can’t Wendy tell her brothers stories literally any time of the day? Why is this bedroom change the end of the world?
  • So, he just wants Wendy so that she can talk about him forever?
  • He doesn’t want to take her brothers???
  • I don’t remember Peter being so … selfish
  • As a kid I thought he wanted to bring all the darlings on a fun adventure
  • “She says you’re a big ugly girl” First of all, Peter, it’s called lying for the sake of politeness. Second of all, STOP BEING RUDE TO WENDY
  • Every time she says “oh” in that sad voice, my heart breaks for her
  • “I think she’s lovely” good on you Wendy for being the bigger person
  • Dang Peter doesn’t even want to take her brother’s now that they’re awake
  • “Any happy little thought”
  • And say expecto patronum
  • Hahaha I love that they all fall at first
  • I always wanted to fly!!
  • You Can Fly is one of my favorite classic Disney songs
  • Michael is trying to help Nana to go with them! This kid is my favorite
  • Aww poor Nana gets left behind
  • The last time I was in London, the Peter Pan statue took me FOREVER to find

Does anyone in London ever look up?

  • Neverland!
  • Is it fun to be a pirate in Neverland? Do they get a lot of other boats to plunder?
  • Okay, so the pirates are bored and murder hungry, good to know
  • Gee, Smee sounds familiar too!
  • Neverland is small, HOW has Hook not found the hideout?
  • Oh man, this guy is just trying to keep the crew entertained with some tunes
  • Casual murder! Hahaha what fun for children
  • Did Smee just say cutting his hand off was a childish prank?
  • Smee’s way to fight off a crocodile is to say “shame on you, shoo” ….
  • He really thinks he took Hook’s head off
  • WHY is Smee the first mate?
  • Author’s Note: Smee makes a remark later in the film about the first mate so he is NOT the first mate. I guess he’s just…Hook’s assistant? Though he doesn’t seem competent at that role either…
  • Tink is shady af, speeding off like that
  • Why don’t her wings flutter when she flies?
  • But doesn’t she think Peter will be mad if Wendy dies?
  • Tink dgaf I guess
  • Tink has a lot of confidence for someone who could be stepped on
  • If I were Wendy, I’d be throwing hands
  • Though, she’s so small, probably would only need to throw fingers
  • The lost boys are human, the pirates are humans, the Native Americans are human, WHY wouldn’t they recognize another human and think Wendy is a strange bird?
  • Michael and John float to the ground – how does flying work? Do you think of getting lower? Do you think mediocre thoughts?
  • Does the pixie dust wear off at any point?
  • Haha Tink has that “I can’t read” Mariah Carey energy
  • Oof big YIKES
  • I’m not repeating the exact quote, but they’ve decided to capture some Native Americans, because that’s fun for kids?
  • Why would you go out and try to capture another person?
  • Hook said before they have their own area of the island so just leave them be
  • Good, I’m glad these little brats got captured. Stay in your lane
  • OOF BIG YIKES at this depiction
  • Hmm…apparently it’s all a game? I guess it’s…less problematic?
  • Man all these mermaids are thirsty for Peter
  • He leaves Wendy behind? I don’t remember him being so mean to her ohmygosh
  • And then laughs as she gets attacked by mermaids!
  • Poor Wendy was so excited to see mermaids this poor child
  • “If you dare to come near me again” I love it!
  • Wendy Moira Angela Darling you’re the true hero of this movie
  • “We were only trying to drown her” everyone in these movies is savage

Mermaid: We were only trying to drown her


  • Basically, Wonderland/Neverland/Anyland is full of violent jerks
  • Wendy starts to chew Peter out but he stops her because Tiger Lily is in danger and while I’m glad he helps Tiger Lily, I do wish Wendy could have continued to put him in his place
  • I’m not gonna request yet another Peter Pan remake/movie, I’m just gonna say I wish there was ONE where Wendy threw hands
  • If I was Wendy I would simply NOT  follow the boy who keeps putting me in dangerous situations to a place called Skull Rock
  • So, do you only need pixie dust the first time you fly?
  • Tiger Lily is very noble, keeping the secret. Pan is not worthy of that nobility, but kudos to her nonetheless
  • Okay, this Hook impersonation is pretty funny
  • Ooh that shot of Hook’s shadow sneaking up behind Peter is a good one
  • That croc is pretty easy to get out of
  • Why does Hook even take Smee with him as his right hand? He’s not very good at it…none of the other pirates are good? They seemed at least tough
  • Where is Tiger Lily though all this???
  • “What about Tiger Lily” Oh, thanks Wendy
  • Wendy really is the only reason everyone makes it out of this movie alive, huh?
  • And she gets left behind again
  • Jeez Smee just gave Hook a concussion
  • Honestly, just leave Smee and Hook alone for a little bit and Hook will probably end up dead by some accident, Peter doesn’t need to lift a finger
  • How do the pirates got the hot goss on Pan and Tink???
  • “a jealous woman can be tricked into anything” wow this movie has the best lines….
  • Oh here we go with the big yikes again
  • Sure, Peter chased away Hook, but if it weren’t for Wendy, he would have forgotten Tiger Lily and left her to drown
  • Oh dear this song, again I say Yikes
  • I tempted to make the tagline of this post “Yikes: The Movie”
  • I never realized how much tobacco was in these early kids movies my gosh
  • I know smoking wasn’t seen as a health hazard yet, but wasn’t it still bad for kids??
  • Why would the girl who helped save Tiger Lily have to go get firewood?
  • Wendy is fed up and she has every right!!
  • Good for her for leaving
  • I want Wendy and Tinker Bell to become friends and team up to take down Peter Pan a la Elle Woods and Vivian in Legally Blonde
  • Why would Tink think Hook would want to help Peter???
  • Why did she have to travel all around the map, if the location was marked on the map already? Just land on the tree?
  • Oh Tink, look what ya did
  • Wendy doesn’t want to grow up but she is ok with being a mother??
  • Peter pan is really a sad story with all these orphans
  • I like in Hook that they get adopted
  • Aww this mother song is so emotional
  • hahaha the pirates crying, too
  • Wendy is sweet to bring the lost boys home with her, but does she really think her house can fit all those kids?
  • HAHAHA the pirates are literally doing a dance routine around the kids, how intimidating
  • “We shall scare the children into joining us with rousing group choreography”
  • Look at that footwork
  • They turned on Peter fast, shows what kind of leader he was
  • Wendy is awfully confident in the boy who has let her down multiple times this movie
  • How is Peter okay? He was only like a foot away from the bomb. Just bc he didn’t open it, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t get hurt, they felt the effects all the way at the ship
  • “You mean more to me than anything in this whole world” it would have been nice if we had seen this, but he didn’t seem to care even before she was banished
  • The ship is so close to shore though lol can’t she just swim to the beach
  • Wendy is a tough lady
  • time to fight!!!
  • haha Smee is ready to get outta there
  • Yes, Michael with the Teddy!!
  • I like how the crocodile is just waiting
  • This normal sword fight is more exciting to me than Pan just flying by Hook every now and then
  • Captain Hook can’t even take a child when he can’t fly smh
  • Why is he a fearsome pirate?
  • Hook, you have a HOOK, you can’t tear out of the flag?
  • “I’m a codfish” All the children: “Hooray!!” hahahaha
  • Wow this crocodile is bad at eating
  • This chase segment is pretty entertaining
  • Aww Peter’s gonna take them home
  • I feel like that bomb explosion changed Peter’s character for the better
  • So will they live on the boat now?
  • Ooh the ship looks so pretty all gold
  • Do they have to think EXTRA happy thoughts to get it to fly?
  • They let Nana back in!! Hooray!!!
  • Poor Wendy’s like “I’ve had enough tomfoolery, give me my own room”
  • “He was the most wonderful of all” was he though???
  • I feel like a lot of redemption happened on the ship ride home
  • Good for you, Mary
  • Did Peter know Wendy’s parents?? Does Peter take a new group of children every night??
  • Should I read the play/book?
  • “Bye Wendy, see ya in 20 years to pick up your bratty kid!”

It pains me to say this because (as I mentioned in the intro) Peter Pan was a fave when I was growing up, but I wasn’t crazy about this film watching as an adult. I can’t remember the last time I watched this movie, could easily be decades, and I either forgot a lot of the negative stuff (like how rude and selfish Peter is) or just didn’t realize as a kid how bad things were (specifically with the Native Americans). There were definitely still fun parts and I just can’t help feeling like a kid again while watching – it takes me back to the days where I truly believed that there were fairies and mermaids out there to discover, and that one day I would get to fly.

I did really like Wendy in this watch. As a kid, I found her kind of boring (sorry, Wendy!) but she’s strong-willed, tries to speak up for herself, and is caring towards her brothers. I also liked that she was polite to Tinker Bell, even though Tinker Bell was terrible towards her; she was able to be the bigger person. And, I gotta say, Wendy grabbing a shell for a weapon, totally prepared to throw down with the rude mermaids, is one of my favorite Disney moments. I stan self defense. I wish that Peter had been nicer, but the film was true to the mischievous character from the original play, so I can’t blame Disney much there. I also wish that Neverland was a more positive and fun place – I didn’t realize as a kid how bad things were, like, everywhere. The mermaids are mean and the pirates are murderous. Honestly, I have no idea why anyone would even WANT to stay there, besides the whole “you get to stay young forever” thing. Nevertheless, I can still honestly say I enjoyed the movie and you can be damn sure I do believe in fairies *insert aggressive clapping here*.

Next week, we say goodbye British children, and hello puppies! It’s Lady and the Tramp!

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