on February 28, 2010
Imagine Cary Grant as a sobbing mock turtle, Gary Cooper in a White Knight suit or W.C. Fields as grumpily philosophical Humpty Dumpty!
These and more are featured in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, the trippiest film made in the early sound era. Technical wizardry abounds, as stop action, split-screen, double exposure, undercranking, superimposition and overlay film techniques bring Lewis Carroll's remarkable world on the looking glass's other side to life. Standard animation (provided by FLEISCHER Studios) is also used in the "Walrus & Carpenter" segment.
Highlights include a speedy lawn croquet game, Polly Moran as a historical date-spouting Dodo bird, 'Queen Alice' at the head of a tea party populated by delightful characters such as Edward Everett Horton's Mad Hatter, and especially the most imaginative sets this side of Wonderland itself! It's a movie that will always be the ultimate cinematic version of Alice and friends. Highest recommendation to all!
(Note that the baby being so rudely handled and tossed around is 9-year-old Billy Barty, who was then a veteran of a family knockabout vaudeville act.)
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll rating.
(6.5) Alice in Wonderland (1933) - Charlotte Henry/Gary Cooper/Cary Grant/W.C. Fields/Edna May Oliver/Edward Everett Horton/Sterling Holloway/Richard Arlen/Alison Skipworth/Lousie Fazenda/Ford Sterling/Leon Errol/Polly Moran/Ned Sparks/Baby LeRoy/Charles Ruggles/May Robson/Raymond Hatton/Jack Oakie/Roscoe Karns/May Marsh (uncredited: Billy Barty/Billy Bevan)
There had been three silent film versions of Charles Dodgson's(pseudonym Lewis Carroll)classic 1865 book Alice In Wonderland and just one sound version before this 1933 version made by Paramount studios.Like many films bought by distributors during the late 40s and into the 50s and pared down to fit neatly into TV time slots,this film went from around 90 minutes to 76 and change in this current version.Laurel and Hardy's /34 Babes in Toyland is a prime example;not only was its 90 minutes also cut down to around 78 min's but it's name was also changed.On top of that it was probably this version of Alice which caught Stan Laurel's eye in 1933 when he cast Charlotte Henry who played Alice here,as his Bo-Peep in Babes in Toyland.Because of the release of the Johnny Depp version of Alice in /10,Universal got the rights to release this onto DVD;its' debut in that format.But in its cut format it is a disappointment indeed.
The story about a girl who imagines an opposite world in her houses' mirror and enters into that topsy turvy world through it,is well known and won't be discussed in any detail here.Paramount's version is a ponderous one as Alice goes from situation to situation meeting all sorts of odd and comical creatures.Paramount trotted out their big stable of stars to play in this production and it featured some of those who were on the decline from the silent days to those newer and soon to be stars.These include:Richard Arlen as the Cheshire Cat,William Austin as the Gryphon,two new and up and comers Gary Cooper as the White Knight and Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle,Leon Errol as Uncle Gilbert,two stars the cartoons of the era satirized many times over,St Thomas,Ontario's own Ned Sparks as the Caterpillar and Louise Fazenda as the White Queen,Charles Ruggles as the March Hare,Edward Everett Horton as the Mad Hatter,Mae Marsh as the Sheep,Ford Sterling as the White King and the legendary WC Fields as Humpty Dumpty.There is a brief and uncredited role as a baby by Billy Barty.Also the animation used comes from Paramount's fave Fleischer Studios.
The special effects for 1933 are quite remarkable and still stand up quite well today.The print used here is also quite good and clear.There are no extras at all.
If not for the facts of 1)its' truncated form being released onto DVD(of this I am NOT surprised)and 2)it's slow moving and ponderous plot(actually more like a myriad of joined together skits),this movie may have earned a better rating.However as it is it comes in around the 2 1/2 -3 stars level.Okay,but its' not going to impress the youngsters as much as it would film buffs.
on January 23, 2016
I remember this on TV when I was a child and thought it was pretty spooky....in other words, I loved it. I don't know why it was released in the 70 min. format; I own a DVD copy of the original 16 mil. film version so it's not as though the full movie is lost. I was looking forward to this release as I thought it would be one of the " digital restorations " with " re discovered out takes and interviews" but it seems there was not enough interest in the film for Paramount to invest the money....unlike the Wizard of Oz. So, I'll keep my original.