Thursday, October 10, 2013

Another non-birthday tribute

TCM is spending this morning with JM Barrie, a writer who had several works turned into movies. Barrie was actually born May 9, 1860, so why TCM is choosing today to show the movies, I don't know. (Then again, I think it was the nice Alain Delon tribute on May 9 this year that ran all morning and afternoon on May 9 this year.) Of the day's lineup, I think the only one I've seen is Quality Street (11:00 AM), which isn't a particular favorite of mine sine I'm not a terribly big fan of Katharine Hepburn. The Admirable Crichton (12:30 PM) sounds interesting.

Now, when you think JM Barrie, you probably think Peter Pan. Of course, TCM isn't showing any Peter Pan story. But it really shouldn't be surprising. TCM is never going to get the rights to the Disney animated movies; Disney is extremely controlling of those, to the point that a lot of people assign responsibility to Disney for the 1998 copyright extension law, since they were trying to keep Steamboat Willie and other works from entering the public domain. Disney's 1953 animated version of Peter Pan is probably the best known, and there are some movies based on the Peter Pan story that have been made. (A look at the IMDb character page for Peter Pan implies that a lot of the stuff is either made for TV, or derivative Disney work.)

There's even one from before 1953, a 1924 silent made by Famous Players-Lasky, the forerunner to Paramount. I have no idea if Paramount has a copy of this that would be in suitable condition to run on TV, but reading the IMDb reviews on it, it sounds interesting. Barrie himself had extensive control over the project, since his play was still under copyright at the time, only recently having been created. At any rate, it's one I'd be interested in seeing at some point. Kino Video apparently released this to DVD, but I don't think it's in print

IMDb also lists a character called "The Village Peter Pan" in a 1925 short from Famous Players-Lasky titled Too Many Kisses. That one sounds interesting, too, since the Peter Pan character is played by Harpo Marx, without Groucho et al. around; the two male leads are Richard Dix and William Powell. This one apparetnly survives too, since there's one reviewer on IMDb claiming to have seen it at an exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image. I have no idea about whether this has any prints ready to be shown on TV. And, having been released in 1925, it's most likely still under copyright, since the 1998 CTEA extended copyrights on anything made after 1923.

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