A pet project of Walt Disney’s since 1939, this animated version of James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan reached full fruition in 1953. Eschewing much of Barrie’s gentle whimsy (not to mention the more sinister aspects of the leading character), Disney and his staff fashioned a cheery, tuneful cartoon extravaganza, which cost $4 million and reaped several times that amount. The straightforward story concerns the Darling family, specifically the children: Wendy, Michael and John. Wendy enjoys telling her younger siblings stories about the mythical Peter Pan, the little boy who never grew up. One night, much to everyone’s surprise, Peter flies into the Darling nursery, in search of his shadow, which Wendy had previously captured. Sprinkling the kids with magic pixie dust, Peter flies off to Never-Never Land, with Wendy, Michael and John following behind. Once in Peter’s domain, the children are terrorized by Captain Hook, who intends to capture Peter and do away with him.
After rescuing Indian princess Tiger Lily from Captain Hook, Peter must save the children, not to mention his own “Lost Boys,” from the diabolical pirate captain. In addition, he must contend with the jealousy of tiny sprite Tinker Bell, who doesn’t like Wendy one little bit. Breaking with several traditions, Peter had been played by a girl in all previous incarnations, Tinker Bell had always been depicted by a shaft of light, etc … this “Disneyized” version of Peter Pan may not be authentic James Barrie, but it has never failed to enthrall audiences of all ages. Adding to the fun are the spirited voiceover performances by Bobby Driscoll (Peter), Hans Conried (Captain Hook and Mr. Darling), Kathryn Beaumont (Wendy) and Bill Thompson (Smee), and the sprightly songs by Sammy Cahn, Sammy Fain, Ollie Wallace, Erdman Penner, Ted Sears, Winston Hibler, Frank Churchill and Jack Lawrence. —allmove guide.
Animator/director Clyde Geronimi got his start as an animator at the Hearst studios in New York. He was hired by Disney studios in 1931 and directed his short cartoon, Beach Picnic in 1938. Eventually Geronimi began working on Disney animated features and helped direct such classics as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Alice in Wonderland and went on to win an Oscar for helming the Disney animated short Ugly Duckling. In the ’50s and ’60s, he moved into directing Disney television shows. —AllMovie guide
Walt Disney first came to rely upon Wilfred Jackson’s genius and sense of perfection, the year Mickey Mouse was born, 1928. At that time, Walt had conceived the notion of marrying music and animation during what was the age of silent movies. Then a new kid in the Studio’s animation department, Wilfred devised a method of synchronizing animation with music, by using a metronome to mark time that could then be converted to a music track. The innovation, which was featured in Mickey Mouse’s debut film “Steamboat Willie,” revolutionized the entertainment medium and competing studios spent more than a year trying to figure out Disney’s production “secret.”
Walt quickly promoted “Jaxon,” as he was called, from animator to director. And as Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston wrote in their book, “Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life,” — "Jaxon was easily the most creative of the directors, but he was also the most “picky” and took a lot of kidding about his thoroughness."
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Ham Luske, a business major, with no formal art education, was the first animator cast by Walt Disney on his daring new project, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the Studio’s first full-length animated feature film. In a memo dated late 1935, Walt wrote, “From now on Ham Luske is definitely assigned to Snow White.”
As the film’s supervising animator, Ham was responsible for the most difficult character of all – Snow White. The audience had to believe in her for the picture to be a success, which led to the use of such groundbreaking techniques as live-action reference films. Ham adeptly directed live-action model (actress Margie Bell) on film, which artists then referred to as they brought the character to life.
Animator and fellow Disney Legend Ollie Johnston recalled, “Ham’s careful planning and shooting of the live-action footage, always with the idea in mind of how it would be used in animation, resulted in a very convincing character.” So much so that Snow White… read more