Peter Pan (Walt Disney; RKO Radio) is a happy blend of Sir James M. Barrie and Walt Disney. Barrie's durable 49-year-old play about "the boy who would not grow up," with its flights of fancy and its flights through the window, is made to order for the animated cartoon. It is full of "pretend" and all such "various tomfool things" as pixies, pirates, Indians and mermaids, who romp among the grottoes, glades, coves and lagoons of the magical isle of Never Land.
Disney, playing the whimsical Barrie tale for out & out fun as well as freewheeling fantasy, has crammed it with pell-mell adventure and capering slapstick. By stressing caricature, the movie avoids much of the cute picture-postcard look that has oversweetened some of Disney's previous films. Ornamented with some bright and lilting tunes, it is a lively feature-length Technicolor excursion into a world that glows with an exhilarating charm and a gentle joyousness.
All the Barrie characters are intact: Peter Pan, who wants "always to be a little boy and to have fun":* Wendy and her younger brothers, John and Michael, who accompany Peter on his personally conducted flying tour of Never Land; that dark and dreadful man, Captain Jas Hook with his syrupy voice and steel-hook hand, and his comic-strip crew of pirates; the Lost Boys, a tatterdemalion band of motherless waifs; Tiger Lily, demure princess of the Piccaninny Tribe of Indians; a popeyed, ticktocking crocodile who continually stalks the hysterically frightened Hook.
But the show-stealer is Tinker Bell, Peter Pan's lustrously blonde playmate. On the stage, Tinker Bell has usually been depicted as a flicker of light. (In the earlier movie version, she was an automobile headlight bulb decorated with tinsel, and manipulated with a fluttery movement on the end of a fishing pole.) Through the magic of the animated cartoon, she is a bosomy little vamp, not much bigger than a dot of light, who flits about enchantingly with a silvery tinkle of bells in a sprinkle of golden pixie dust.
The Naked Spur (MGM) is a bang-bang-up western and the shootingest Hollywood horse opera in months. It begins with a cagey killer (Robert Ryan) and his flinty pursuer (James Stewart) who is out to collect the $5,000 reward. An old prospector (Millard Mitchell) and a cashiered Union Army officer (Ralph Meeker) have cut themselves in on the reward money as Stewart's partners. Since this is a big Technicolor western, there is also a girl along for the ride, played by Janet Leigh in a becoming boyish blonde hairdo. By the fadeout, the bad man, the prospector and the Army officer are dead, and true love has found the girl and the pursuer.
The Naked Spur ambitiously tries to dig into the theme of human greed, but it is neither a Greed nor a Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Nonetheless, Director Anthony (Bend of the River) Mann has richly fleshed out the picture with the red meat of action. Shot in the Colorado wastelands, the plot is unfolded almost entirely with the camera rather than with words. A striking exercise in violence, it is a western with real form, rhythm and authentic style. Best sequence: a three-way shooting match between Ryan, Stewart and Meeker up & down a cliff jutting over a raging, impassable river.