Alice In Wonderland (1933) (DVD film review).

October 26, 2016 | By | Reply More

I came across this 1933 version of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ while reviewing a book recently and then discovered it was available cheap on the Net. Amongst its large cast members were Cary Grant, Gary Cooper and W.C. Fields, although you’ll be hard pushed to recognise them, which raised an eyebrow. Forget the illustration on the box cover, it doesn’t do justice to the contents. For its times period, it has some nice effects and it’s a wonder that it has never appeared on UK television as far as I can recall.


I’ll point out certain changes in the basic plot from the book. Firstly, Alice (actress Charlotte Henry) isn’t out in the garden chasing a white rabbit but bored, while it was snowing outside. She also steps through a looking glass and finds people in paintings talking to her, not to mention a talking clock so is mixing both of Lewis Carroll’s books together. It isn’t until Alice gets into the garden does she follow the late white rabbit. After that, it stays pretty much to the events in the firstbook. Everything else is there for your delight with some outstanding performances and no one loses their heads, except for Humpty Dumpty, who does it himself. What is it about eggs and walls?

By the standards of today, the character effects might look a little primitive but often surprises when the eyes function properly. Interestingly, the larger mouths function well when talking. Acting wise, there is a certain amount of vaudeville, but then if you look at the later ‘Wizard Of Oz’ (1939), where similar tactics were used, that’s hardly surprising.

The Walrus And The Carpenter sequence is full animation by an uncredited Hugh Harman and Rudolf Isling (both were involved in the ‘Bosko’ cartoons).

Right from the start, I couldn’t help but admire the film direction. Things are locked down with the special effects but they hardly had light cameras in those days. This really is a classy number. Even if you recognise how some of the special effects are made, the panache and time period gives immediate respect. If anything, it’s a shame it wasn’t made in colour. It’s hardly surprising that they kept to the illustrations by John Tenniel in Lewis Carroll’s original books. Then again, so did that Disney chap with the 1951 animated film or the same name.

I classify this film as a rare classic and should certainly be seen if you like old fantasy films and smiles that remain when your face vanishes.

GF Willmetts

October 2016

(region 2 DVD: pub: Universal. 73 minute black and white film. Price: I paid under a £ 1.00 (UK) for it. ASIN: 827 795 0)

cast: Charlotte Henry, Richard Arlen, Rosco Ates, William Austin, Gary Cooper, Leon Errol, Louise Fazenda, W.C. Fields, Alec B. Francis, Skeets Gallagher, Cary Grant, Lillian

check out website: www.universalpictures.co.uk


Category: Fantasy, Films

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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