Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Silent film version of 'Peter Pan' (1924)
on Thursday, Aug. 7 in Ogunquit, Maine

Okay, getting back into the groove with a screening of the silent version of 'Peter Pan' (1924) on Thursday, Aug. 7 at the Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit, Maine. Showtime is 8 p.m. and admission is $10 per person.

Most people are surprised to learn that there's a silent version of 'Peter Pan.' And those who see it are always surprised at how much fun it is and how well it holds up.

My theory: there's something about the silent film format that engages an audience's imagination in a way that helps the Peter Pan story come to life.

In that vein, the film contains one of the most effective audience participation sequences in all of silent cinema.

So come see for yourself. The press release with all the information is below. Hope to see you there!

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Betty Bronson plays the title role in the silent film version of 'Peter Pan' (1924).

For more info, contact: Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Silent film version of 'Peter Pan' at Leavitt Theatre on Thursday, Aug. 7

Screening of timeless family movie classic in historic Ogunquit venue will feature live musical accompaniment

OGUNQUIT, Maine—It was the film that introduced movie-goers to visions of flying children, magical fairies, human-like animals and menacing pirates. It was the original silent film adaptation of 'Peter Pan,' a picture personally supervised by author J.M. Barrie. The film was a major hit when released in 1924, with audiences eager to get their first big-screen look at the wonders of Neverland.

Local movie fans can see for themselves when the first 'Peter Pan' (1924) is screened with live music on Thursday, Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. at the historic Leavitt Theatre, 259 Main St., Route 1, Ogunquit, Me.

The program will feature live music by silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis. General admission is $10 per person. The show, which is appropriate for all ages, makes for a unique family night out after a long summer day of outdoor activities.

'Peter Pan' is the latest in the Leavitt's series of silent film screenings with live music. The series aims to show the best silent films in the way that caused people to first fall in love with the movies—on the big screen, in a theater, with live music, and with an audience.

"We're thrilled to be presenting the original 'Peter Pan' at the Leavitt, where familes can come together and experience it in a way that's impossible to duplicate with a home entertainment center," said Peter Clayton, longtime owner/operator of the Leavitt.

The Leavitt opened in 1923 as a silent movie house, and has been in business every summer season since. Over the past winter, Clayton installed a new digital projection system to enable the Leavitt to continue to offer first-run Hollywood films.

Thought lost for many years, and overshadowed by more recent adaptations, the original silent 'Peter Pan' maintains its freshness and charm more than 80 years after its original release.

In the story, first presented as a stage play in 1904, three children in London are visited one night by Peter Pan, a youth in search of his shadow. Pan shows his new friends how to fly, and then convinces them to join him in a journey to Neverland.

There they encounter Indians, mermaids, and a band of pirates whose leader, Captain Hook, is Pan's sworn enemy. The children are captured by Hook and taken prisoner aboard his pirate ship, setting the stage for an epic battle, the outcome of which will determine if the children may ever return home.

Though the Peter Pan story is well-known today due to subsequent adaptations (and also merchandising that includes a ubiquitous brand of peanut butter), the tale was virtually new when Hollywood first brought it to film in the early 1920s. In England, author Barrie gave his blessing to the first-ever screen adaptation, though he retained control over casting and insisted that any written titles in the film be taken directly from his own text.

After a major talent search, Barrie settled on unknown 18-year-old actress Betty Bronson for the title role, and filming began in 1924. The role of Captain Hook was played by noted character actor Ernest Torrance, who invented the now-iconic villainous pirate persona that would become a Hollywood legend.

The film's highlights include special effects that maintain their ability to dazzle even today. The film's memorable images include a group of mermaids entering the sea, a miniature Tinkerbell interacting with full-sized children and adults, and a pirate ship lifting out of the water and taking flight.

'Peter Pan' also includes a cast of animal characters played by humans in costume, including the family dog Nana and an alligator who serves as Hook's nemesis, lending the film a magical quality.

After the film's release, no copies of the original 'Peter Pan' were known to exist, and for many years the film was regarded as lost. However, in the 1950s a single surviving print turned up in the George Eastman Archives in Rochester, N.Y., from which all copies today have descended.

'Peter Pan' will be accompanied by local musician and composer Jeff Rapsis, who has prepared new material to go with the picture.

"Silent film was intended to be screened with live music that not only supported the action, but clued in the audience to changing moods and scenes," said Rapsis, a New Hampshire resident and one of the nation's leading silent film musicians. "I hope this new music will help bring to life the film's special qualities of fantasy and child-like wonder."

‘Peter Pan’ will be shown with live music on Thursday, Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. at the Leavitt Theatre, 259 Main St., Route 1 in Ogunquit, Maine. Admission is $10 per person; for more info, call (207) 646-3123 or visit For more information about the music, visit

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