Top positive review
Under-rated Disney Classic, offers big entertainment for any age group
on March 20, 2013
I first saw 'Peter Pan' in the 1960's, during one of its period re-releases by Disney; and remembered it a a pretty good "...kid's film..."
I recently re-visited this movie, under the prodding of my 11 year-old daughter; and, I am grateful to her for pushing me into it. 'Peter Pan' features beautiful animation, well-choreographed scenes of fight and flight, inspired voice-acting and memorable songs. All of this supports a surprisingly funny and insightful tale of the dangers of either never growing up...or, growing up too much.
Katherine Beaumont ('Alice In Wonderland') is beguiling as teenage Wendy Darling; whose childhood infatuation with tales of Peter Pan develop into a relatable (if very 1950's) teen crush. Bobby Driscoll, who was a well-known Disney child star, turns in a completely winning performance as Peter Pan. He captures all the bravado, hubris, good humor, pettiness, generosity and pure sense-of-fun that run chock-a-block through all teenage boys. The characterization of Tinkerbell (insanely jealous of Wendy and possessive of Peter) creates a very believable teen-age triangle; and, some welcome pungency to offset Disney's penchant for treacle. However, the prize goes to Hans Conried in the twin roles of Mr. Darling (Wendy's veddy, veddy British father), and Peter's nemesis: Captain James Hook. As Hook, Conried creates a truly great villain: charming, scheming, ferocious, vengeful, cunning and (where the hungry crocodile is concerned) hysterically nervous.
Comments about the 'Indian' scenes are justified...but, not to the extent that Politically Correct critics condemn. The song: "What makes the red man, red" is classic (i.e. insensitive and stereotypical) Hollywood 'injun' stuff. That said, Candy Candido's floor-scraping vocals as 'Big Chief' are a pure hoot; and, should be taken in that spirit.
Bottom line: 'Peter Pan' is one of Disney's most completely realized and satisfying movies. Its fun, insightful, exciting, speaks equally well to kids, teens and adults and does so without the sugary wallowing that came to epitomize subsequent Disney animation. Watch it, and smile.