23. Peter Pan (1953)
The whimsical tale of the boy who never grows up is a blast in 1953’s Peter Pan. Disney had just come back from the cost cutting and low budget “package films” era, in which each films was made up of shorts to justify the length of a feature length film. After the Silver Age began with 1950’s Cinderella (more on that one in a later part), Disney went back to tell full tales and Peter Pan is a signature staple of any childhood. It’s vibrant, fun, wacky at times, but creates this sense that being a kid is all sorts of fun, even if one has to mature during the process. Wendy Darling, voiced by the lovely Kathryn Beaumont, and her brothers John, voiced by Paul Collins, and Michael, voiced by Tommy Luske, are greeted by Pan, voiced by Bobby Driscoll, to go away to Neverland and, well, the rest is probably been ingrained since elementary days.
The animation brings out the vibrancy of the pictures with a rich display of simple pastels and rich forest. The comedy and slapstick is quick with timing and paced to keep the audience laughing. The characters are all around unforgettable, especially Captain Hook. Conreid’s performance is absolutely legendary by being a buffoon and maniac that does have some murderous tendencies every now and then. However, the songs are a tad hit-and-miss. For every “The Second Star to the Right,” there is “What Makes the Redman Red,” which is dated and shockingly racist. Seriously, 1950’s, what the hell? Peter Pan remains one of the best of the golden era alongside the next entry.
Critic’s Quote: “James M. Barrie’s childhood fantasy, Peter Pan, many times legit-staged, and previously filmed with live actors, is a feature cartoon of enchanting quality.” – Variety, Dec. 31, 1952
Signature Moment: “The Second Star to the Right” sequence before entering Neverland. Flying over London with nothing but happy thoughts gives the audience a thrilling look at the ultimate childhood dream.