Without a doubt, Paramount’s 1933 Alice in Wonderland is one of the strangest films to come from the studio during that era.
It is known from contemporary interviews, that the author, Charles Dodgson, known as Lewis Carroll, had always wanted his books (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the 1871 Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There) to come to cinema in animated form. Before his passing, records show discussions with the Brothers Melies, but nothing came of it.
His wish had to wait until 1951, when animated motion pictures were invented by Walt Disney – his first feature length being Alice in Wonderland, which has fortunately survived the ravages of the nitrate era.
Which brings us back to Paramount, and their all-star 76-minute extravaganza filled with the finest effects of the era.
Starring 19 year-old (newcomer to film) Charlotte Henry, directed by Norman McLeod, with a screenplay by Joseph Mankiewicz and William Cameron Menzies, , a score by Dimitri Tiomkin, and photographed by Bert Glennon and Henry Sharp, it still failed to create a buzz at the boxoffice.
As to the “supporting” cast: Richard Arlen, Gary Cooper, Leon Errol, W.C. Fields, Cary Grant, Sterling Holloway, Edward Everett Horton, Mae Marsh, Polly Moran, Jack Oakie, Edna May Oliver, May Robson, Charles Ruggles…
The new Blu-ray from Kino, courtesy of Universal is a pleasant surprise, possibly because elements weren’t over-printed. Although there’s an occasional very insignificant cut through, the overall resolution, gray scale, grain structure are extremely pleasing. A bit of movement, but nothing problematic.
This is a film that I’ve never seen, although I’ve read about it numerous times – in most cases the actors’ filmographies, or the old “Films of…” series of books.
For fans of Grant, Fields, Cooper and others, even with brief performances, it’s a very interesting means of seeing these noted thespians used in odd, actually very odd, ways.
Image – 4
Audio – 5
Pass / Fail – Pass
Upgrade from DVD – Yes