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As I was growing up, this film always had a special place in my heart next
to The Wizard of Oz; it was shown live in 1955 and 1960. The 1960
production was preserved on kinescope and then shown once or twice in 1961
or 1962 and never again until 1991 or so. During those years that it was
forgotten by the networks, there wasn't a baby-boomer out there that had
truly forgotten it. It was one of those magical shows that we all talked
about and wished they'd run again. Now, it's finally available on tape and
on DVD; the DVD version is very well done and the picture is colorful,
bright and clear, even though it's from the only kinescope copy of the live
show. It's very much a filmed stage play, and the sets reflect this. It
was preserved in color, which is a miracle considering there were virtually
no color sets in existence then.
Mary Martin is great as Peter (she was 47 years old when she did this very acrobatic role!), but Cyril Ritchard pretty much steals the production from her with his Hook. He and his pirates are so over the top that the other actors are hard put to keep up. Watch his face and his body during the singing and dancing scenes; he's just a delight. The songs are all wonderful, too. This is a film that probably won't be very popular with the children of the 90's, but my guess is that it was really meant for those of us who loved it when we were kids, because I purchased the DVD the minute it came out. Buy it while it's still available, and enjoy the memories.
It should be clarified that the wonderful Mary Martin actually did "Peter Pan" on television three different times, and I'm relatively sure that only the last version is available on home video. The 1955 broadcast was done on bona-fide live television, as a chapter in the PRODUCER'S SHOWCASE anthology a few years before videotape- and I imagine must've been a sight to see. It was re-staged all over again, live, the following year, and I suspect that this version is on kinescope- but is probably only viewable at the MT&R in New York or L.A. (There are production stills of all the performances, and Martin's costume and hair color are slightly different each time.) It was finally videotaped, in 'living color,' in 1960, and if you are as old as I am, you may remember the network re-broadcasts always being preceded by the blooming NBC peacock. The tape is now a DVD, and still includes the original network cards, but sadly, not the peacock. It holds up quite nicely, although the heavy stage makeup and flying wires are now painfully obvious. But it is a marvelous time capsule of an earlier, gentler, period of TV entertainment.
This thread has some confusing information in it. I think I can add
The 1955 version of Peter Pan was done live from NY and then redone the following year. That version was preserved on Kinescope, but not videotape.
In 1960, NBC re-staged the production and videotaped it in their wonderful old Brooklyn studios - by the way, I believe that The Cosby Show in the '80s was produced at the same NBC Brooklyn Studios.
The 1960 production was videotaped and rebroadcast a number of times, and may be available on VHS now.
As the 4-year old son of an NBC publicity flack, I had the wonderful privilege of attending the taping of the show and I have a magnificent b&w photograph of me, in a gray flannel suit - in gray shorts no less - with Mary Martin in full costume.
It is one of the treasures of my childhood and Peter Pan has always been a favorite of mine.
By the way, there is/was a cast recording of Peter Pan - I want to say that it was on RCA Victor records, since of course, RCA owned NBC. But I have always been under the impression that is was of the Broadway play. This thread implies that the show never made it to Broadway, so I am not sure. However, I am certain that there was a record - vinyl, 33 1/3, long play, etc.
"I know a place where dreams are born...."
This movie is one of the best versions of the Peter Pan story that I
have ever seen I've been watching it for years and now at the age of 20
I still find myself singing the songs and tapping my toe to the beat.
It was done in the traditional theater way, with a woman playing Peter Pan, but Mary Martin did such a wonderful job you never think of her as a 'girl'. Tinkerbell is a light that whizzes across the stage, and the audience is drawn into the movie when asked to clap for the little fairy after drinking poison meant for Peter.
This is a wonderful movie and I recommend it for adults and children alike, its full of the wholesome kind of magic that you hardly see nowadays in film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like so many others, I was a young thing when I saw Mary Martin's PETER
PAN for the first time. I was perhaps 3 or 4, and I recall
ever-so-clearly wanting to be Wendy, and wearing my pink housecoat
(similar to Wendy's nightgown) every time I watched this film (which
was at least once a week). Years later, this is one film that still
remains near and dear to my heart.
Out of all of the adaptations of PETER PAN I have ever seen (including the Disney version which is also a classic), this is my favorite. But then again, how could one dislike anything which preserves the legend of the fabulous Mary Martin? The cast is absolutely terrific. While Maureen Bailey does not "get on my nerves" as some reviewers have stated, she does tend to over-act a bit. Seeing as how this was pretty much a direct translation of the stage show, however, there is a good chance Maureen had, at some point, been involved in the show. Anyone who knows anything about acting knows that acting for the stage and acting for the screen are two totally different ballgames, which could have resulted in her over-acting. Nonetheless, she makes for a charming Wendy (and later Jane). Sondra Lee is terrific as Tiger Lily, although I find it appalling that in this day and age where the part of Caucasian, blue-collar Bronx bus driver Ralph Kramden is going to be played on-screen by African-American comedian Bernie Mac, someone actually has the audacity to say that Tiger Lily can't be blonde because "she's an Indian." Does the fact that Tiger Lily is blonde really prove to be detrimental to the movie in any way? No, no it doesn't. Margalo Gilmore, an extremely talented veteran of both stage and screen, is a lovable Mrs. Darling, although she only appears at the beginning and toward the end of the show. Cyril Ritchard will ALWAYS be, in my humble opinion, the BEST Captain Hook (/Mr. Darling) to ever grace a screen (apologies to Dustin Hoffman and others who have played the famed role). His Hook is deliciously malicious, cunning, and hysterically funny. And Mary Martin - I don't even know if I can put into words how incredible she is in the role of Peter. Several reviewers have scoffed at the fact of Peter Pan as a woman - saying it defeats the entire purpose of everything. Show me a ten year old boy who could have acted, sung, dance, and flew the part (and performed it eight times a week on the stage) and I'll eat your hat. This was the perfect role for Martin, by my understanding her favorite role (she wanted a tomboyish role similar to Annie in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN), and what a treat it is to have it preserved. As a woman approaching 50, she is ridiculously agile, in fine if not incredible voice, and a treat to behold. Top all of this off with narration by the lush voice of the wonderful Lynn Fontanne, and you have a winner! Several reviewers have scoffed at the "cheesey affects," the visibility of the wires, and the "bringing Tinker Bell back to life" scene. As a 19 year-old cinema major, I am constantly baffled by the fact that people in this day of CGI refuse to accept the limitations of film and television in 1960. Not only do they refuse to accept it, but they simply have no concept of the era. PETER PAN is a filmed version of a STAGE MUSICAL, folks. You're going to see the wires. There were no computers at that time to generate images and special effects - get over it and embrace the past. As far as clapping Tink back to life - this is an integral part of the movie (and stage play for that matter). It's the audience's chance to embrace childhood and to believe in the unbelievable. After all, that is what Peter Pan is really all about.
All in all, this is an amazing film, and I have no doubt in my mind that even though youngsters today have been brought up with films using phenomenal CGI technology and such, they will fall in love with the beautiful and catchy music, the energetic choreography (by Jerome Robbins, no less!), and the story of a boy who could never grow up.
This version of Peter Pan is etched forever in my memory. A great score,
great cast -- what more is there to say.
Yes, Miss Mary Virginia Martin was 40-something when she played the title part, all the while introducing the world to The Sound of Music on Broadway, and she played THAT splendidly as well.
As this great story marks its centennial in 2004, it would be a coup to offer the 1960 version on DVD.
Just think lovely thoughts.
This is truly a magical movie. The singing, the colors, the flying. Mary Martin embodies Peter Pan so gracefully and whimsically that I cannot imagine this character as played by anyone else. I view this Peter Pan as the best and most classic depiction of the boy who never grew up.
Awesome! Clearly, the commenter above didn't know one thing from another. The characters were masterfully played. Peter Pan was delightfully mischievous and willful while Captain Hook was devious and intriguing. The children sometimes got a little on the annoying side, but they are little to be dealt with, though Wendy could be accused of being whiny. Tinker Bell was classically played. Though Tiger Lily couldn't be played by today's standards, her song is fun as well are the animals which chase around Neverland. This makes a great play for children with active imaginations to watch and which parents can sit through without hitting themselves over the head with an empty video box. Fun, light hearted music and a hint of a moral.
what the medium for this production was. It was one of the first Broadway stage productions that had been duplicated exactly for television. The idea was ahead of it's time, and also has preserved Mary Martin's and the rest of the cast's memorable performances which otherwise would have been lost forever. People today are too much into "special effects" instead of good down home theater. All of the performers perform admirably. My son cannot get enough of this video and I'm happy to say that I was able to obtain it when it was reissued a few years back. I wish we had more of this type of entertainment of the "classics". If anyone knows of any, let me know if at all possible.
My earliest recollection of seeing PETER PAN (which, like Marta's, was second only to THE WIZARD OF OZ as the "movie" of my childhood) must have been sometime around 63 or 64 (when I was only 6 or 7)--I'm not even sure of the year, maybe earlier, maybe later, but I remember watching it on my aunt and uncle's TV in their basement family room and clapping for Tinker Bell. Then, many years later, I read that NBC was going to offer us another showing (1988?) and I had my VCR ready. Despite the primitive video tape recording of the picture and sound, this version of PETER PAN still enchants me at age 43 (well, in two weeks, anyway). And how wonderful it is to have Mary Martin's performance recorded for posterity. What is more interesting to me is that when I finally had the opportunity to direct the music for a stage production (in 1994, and with a wonderful actor named Kathy St. George as Peter) it was that the adults in the audience were the ones most caught up in the spell--but the children, too, "believed." I'm watching the video now and Tink's about to die, so I better get ready to show my belief in her.
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