"Seldom has an amateur embarked upon so formidable a production as did David Bradley when he and some friends decided to film Ibsen's Peer Gynt, using Grieg's music for background. This mystic drama is considered so difficult that it has been performed only twice in the American theatre; yet the task held no terror for this group. Fashioning their own costumes and finding suitable locations in suburban Chicago, Mr. Bradley's intrepid band has done an amazingly good job. It would be easy to visualize the result had the production been in less capable hands than those of Mr. Bradley, and it is to his great credit that such quaint characters as the Button Moulder and the many trolls and woodland sprites do not appear ludicrous. The chief fault in this tremendous undertaking is that Ibsen's gigantic play has been transliterated to the screen rather than translated. That is, Mr. Bradley, by his own admission, modeled his scenario as closely as possible on a work written expressly for the theatre. Had he taken more liberties with the dramatic form in favor of a more peculiarly cinematic treatment — as exemplified so strikingly in the fine Hall of the Mountain King sequence — there would have been no structural weaknesses in his film. With this fundamental concept firmly in mind, Mr. Bradley, recently turned twenty one, should scale the heights in his future productions." Movie Makers, Dec. 1941, 566.
Discussed by Bradley in "Amateurs Film Heroic Saga" (Movie Makers, Aug. 1942, 332, 340-342). The article extensively details the film's production, and shares a shooting script of a chase scene in the film. Bradley also discusses the problems of amateur casting for large scale films like Peer Gynt in "Casting Problems of Amateur Productions" (Home Movies, Feb. 1943, 48, 58).
Tepperman, Charles. Amateur Cinema: The Rise of North American Moviemaking, 1923-1960. University of California Press, 2014.
Included in the Unseen Cinema Project, DVD Disc 7, "Viva la Dance".
Production credits are listed in Movie Makers (Dec. 1941, 579). The film is notable in that it contains the screen debut of Charlton Heston.
Previewed in American Cinematographer (Sept. 1942, 414).
Bradley Film Collection, Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive
With stock footage of Norway.