Live accompaniment by Music Box house organist Dennis Scott | Co-Presented by Chicago Film Society | Free Admission for Music Box Members
Theatrical convention dictated that the eponymous lead of J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, be played by a girl. Every actress in Hollywood eyed the role, but Barrie himself insisted on casting the unknown seventeen-year-old dancer Betty Bronson over the likes of Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford. Here and elsewhere, Herbert Brenon’s glorious adaptation benefits from its peculiar fidelity to the stage version: the Darling family dog is played by a man in a mutt costume and the very theatrical moment when Peter begs the audience to clap to save Tinker Bell (Virginia Browne Faire) is imported wholesale to the cinema. By locating the magic in plain sight, Brenon fashions an unassuming masterwork of silent cinema.