Friday, November 30, 2007

Disney War Propaganda Film

This World War II film, meant to send a message rather than entertain, is adapted from a book by Russian-born Major Alexander P. de Seversky. It starts out with a brief but interesting history of airplanes, starting with the Wright Brothers' first flight in Kittyhawk. We see aviation being explored by various nations for various purposes and then airplanes put to limited use in World War I, followed by a series of successes in flight, before finally moving on to World War II. The film talks about the history of Major de Seversky, who later explains about how the advent of aircraft spells change in the face of traditional warfare. It then goes on to explain how the Allies chose not to embrace the use of air power and instead, used old-fashioned methods of warfare to battle the Axis powers, who used aircraft to do their dirty work. The point the film makes is that the only way for the Allies to secure victory over the robust Axis is to make heavy use of military aviation, because, as we're told, fighting on the surface puts the advantage in the hands of Adolf Hitler. ~ From Wikipedia

During World War 2 the Disney Company made many entertaining and educational cartoons shorts for the war effort but only one feature-length film and that was Victory Through Air Power. It was the very first Disney theatrical release that featured not only animation but also live-action too. The film is based on the (then) controversial book of the same name by Alexander P. de Seversky which was published shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Unfortunately, it’s also the only Disney movie I’ve ever seen that’s not only dated but is actually kind of boring too. I think the only people that this educational film could hope to appeal to are history buffs and seriously devoted Disney fans. Because Air Power was put together in such a hurry, not even the animation could redeem this film for me. To put it bluntly: I was bored and had to make myself watch the last 30 minutes.

That’s not to say that maybe for it’s time it was good but I only watched it because the Disney name was attached. To me it seemed like one long lecture but I’m sure there were many people back then that the message impacted but I just didn’t care for it.

~You can now buy this film in the Disney Treasure’s DVD: On the Front Lines anthology along with other propaganda shorts such as Der Fuehrer’s Face and Donald Gets Drafted (that are much more interesting).


Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Life of a Raggedy Rascal

Life began in hardship for Scruffy, carried to survival by her mother from a fire in a condemned building, only to be orphaned by a sheepherder’s rifle. Soon she is rescued and nursed back to health by some merciful children but leaves them to make her way back to the city. A kindly street performer takes her in and shows her the possibilities of human decency. But in the middle of a cold night, fate decides that Scruffy must once more to be alone.

Alone that is, until a bullterrier named Butch accepts her as part of the street pack that beds down each night in an abandoned car and roams the streets and back alleys during the day. Then one terrible day they are all taken to the pound and condemned to death. But by now, Scruffy has a talent for survival. She not only saves the day but she becomes a national celebrity.

I’ve read many books about dogs over the years but none of them as often as I have read Scruffy by Jack Stoneley. The book is loosely based on a true story, in fact, it was the author himself who wrote the newspaper article. Scruffy’s history throughout the book is fictional “though all of the incidents described have happened to actual dogs and are based on brief press reports of their exploits”.

Originally published in England as The Tuesday Dog, this 150 page little story doesn’t take too long to read and was a quick re-read for the Four-Legged Friends Challenge hosted by Kailana. I loved how the story is told from Scruffy’s point of view but doesn’t “humanize” her at all. I can’t seem to find much on the author but I would love to read more things by him if they’re all as good as Scruffy is.

Unfortunately, this wonderful story is currently out of print and extremely hard to find but well worth it if you happen to run across it in an old library or something. The book was made into a 3 part series on ABC-TV in 1980 but it is also a rare find. I got to watch it for the first time a year or two ago and imagine my surprise when I saw that it was animated! It was still very good but nothing can beat the originals source material.

~ This book was: “Dedicated to the many millions of unwanted strays throughout the world”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Love is a Battlefield for These Two

It's a duel of wits in this battle of the sexes!

Based on the 1931 play "The Front Page" by Ben Hecht (Notorious, Angels Over Broadway) and directed by Howard Hawks (Bringing Up Baby, Gentleman Prefer Blondes), this fast-paced screwball comedy stars the impeccable Cary Grant as Walter Burns, the unscrupulous editor of a Chicago tabloid. Rosalind Russell co-stars as Hildy Johnson, ace reporter and ex-wife of Burns. Convinced that the newspaper can print an article that will save the life of a man sentenced to hang for a murder he didn't mean to commit, Burns needs Hildy to write the front-page story. Unfortunately, Hildy has just announced that she's quitting the newspaper business for good and is about to remarry. Witty, rapid-fire dialogue replaces sight gags as Burns attempts to charm the conflicted Hildy into returning to her job... and to him!

Often credited as being one of the first movies that used over-lapping dialogue, His Girl Friday is simply one of the best Cary Grant movies ever made. It’s a romantic “screwball” comedy that features some the most machine gun-like dialogue in the whole history of film.

I honestly thought that Hildy was played by Katherine Hepburn at first. Rosalind Russell must have had her in mind when playing this part because she’s such a strong but funny character with that famously dry, sarcastic wit... at least where her ex-husband is concerned anyway! My favorite line has to be:

Walter Burns: There’s been a lamp burning in the window for you honey
Hildy Johnson: Oh, I jumped out that window a long time ago.
It’s hard to believe that Hildy’s part almost went to a man! His Girl Friday is very loosely based
on the Broadway play The Front Page (it’s also a 1931 film) and this almost became a remake of it until the director Howard Hawks had his secretary read what later was to be Hildy’s part and loved the idea of a female instead and the rest is history! Personally, I loved this but I know some people don’t enjoy black and white films. This funny little gem is more than worth your time and attention though.
has several clips and articles on this film.


Great Scene:

Complete Film (In the Public Domain):

Related Reviews
Rosalind Russell
The Women (1939)
Cary Grant
Alice in Wonderland (1933)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Houseboat (1958)
Ralph Bellamy

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Film that Became an Award-Winning TV Show

The Wind In The Willows has captured the hearts and imaginations of children and adults for nearly a century. Brought vividly and faithfully to life in this 1983 film adaptation, Kenneth Grahame's classic tales of Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad are available to home viewers for the first time.

An award-winning creation from the legendary Cosgrove Hall Productions (Danger Mouse, Count Duckula), The Wind In The Willows features eye-catching stop-motion animation and dialogue taken directly from the pages of the beloved children's tale. Experience the lively, song-filled adventures of Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad in an enchanting production as magical as the original book.

Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows in 1908 I bet he never dreamed that it would be reproduced in so many forms. There are plays, book “sequels” by other authors, and of course films. Animated and live-action are the most common but in order to distinguish one above the rest; with so many different adaptations around, it would have to be dramatically different. So the people of Cosgrove Hall made their Wind in the Willows using stop-motion puppetry.

For some reason using such a different technique really did make the film stand out! It became so popular that Cosgrove made it into a TV series that ran from 1984-1987 then again in 1989-90. For the most part, that was before my time so I didn’t grow up with these characters like most people so I didn’t get the warm, fuzzy sense of nostalgia when watching it.

Actually, I didn’t find the film visually appealing at all. I thought it was very dated and the characters are kind of scary-looking! The movie did have one good thing about it and that was the music. The original dialogue and some of the songs from the book were used all throughout the film. I’ll even grudgingly admit that the voice work wasn’t too shabby either with the talents of the British actors Ian Carmichael as Rat, Richard Pearson as Mole, Michael Hordern as Badger, and David Jason as Toad.

However much I didn’t care for the overall look of Cosgrove’s Wind in the Willows, I have to admit that the story was (for the most part) a faithful rendering of the original tale. They did take a few liberties though and I still can’t stand the pompous Mr. Toad.

The End Credits Song:

River Theme Clip:

Part 1:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Great for Disney Fans

On November 18, 1928, a star was born. A mischievous mouse named Mickey sprang to life on a New York movie screen in an animated short that propelled him to fame and the twenty-seven-year-old Walt Disney to fortune. Innovator and visionary, Disney carried the art of animation to new heights through the brilliant characters he went on to develop: Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Bambi. Dozens of Academy Awards later, in 1958, Walt Disney encouraged Bob Thomas to write The Art of Animation, the book that would finally give full credit to the animators and explore the process.

Now, thirty-three years later, with his original book long a collector’s item, Thomas is back with a brand-new, lavishly illustrated and lovingly designed look a the Disney animation. He brings Disney’s history up to date, and celebrates the magic of the animation through the production of Disney’s newest animated feature film Beauty and the Beast. The basic techniques are explained and examples of story sketches, layouts, animation drawings, and background paintings – all the elements that go into the making of an animated film – are illustrated. With the full cooperation of the Walt Disney Productions and total access to the studio’s archives, the author conducted dozens of interviews with the animators themselves, and the result is a remarkable tour behind the scenes of the magic we see on the screen.

There are so many beautiful pictures, interesting sketches and fun facts in Bob Thomas’s The
Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast! There actually wasn’t that much new information that I didn’t already know (mainly thanks to Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in It’s Golden Age by Michael Barrier) but the book almost makes up for it with such interesting photos, movie posters, etc. I really liked the concept art and I’m looking forward to when some of the movies featured become available on 2-disc DVD.

I disliked how the book only (very) briefly went into the Disney animated movies. Some don’t even get the courtesy of having a whole paragraph about them! At least until you get up to the
end of the book and then nearly 80 pages are used to talk about Beauty and the Beast... which of course came out around the same time as the book.

I just wish that the rest of book seemed as dedicated to the rest of Disney’s animated movies as it did to Beauty and the Beast. If it had, then I would be more than willing to buy The Art of Animation but as it stands, I’m glad it’s just a library book. Hopefully when the Disney company start making great animated features again someone will update this book that had so much potential.

~ Note: In 1997 Bob Thomas wrote a sequel called The Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Hercules)

I have a
review on Hollywood Cartoons by Michael Barrier

Snow White Behind the Scenes:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Sensible Version of Wind in the Willows

Join Mole, Ratty, Badger, and of course, the irrepressible Mr. Toad in this hilarious adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale of friendship and mischief. Mole and Ratty set out for a fun-filled day on the river, but they soon meet up with Mr. Toad, whose obsession with cars only leads to big trouble! After a daring jail break, Mr. Toad joins his friends in a madcap battle to regain his home, Toad Hall, from the villainous weasels. The beautifully-animated film brings to life one of the best-loved children’s books of all time, and is sure to delight children of all ages.

Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s book
The Wind in the Willows has been adapted for films (animated and otherwise) for several decades now. I recently watched an animated version of the fabulous story that was produced by Rankin/Bass in 1987 (some sites and videos say ‘83). I felt like the animation could have been better (it’s not very pretty and resembles The Hobbit) but I got so caught up in the story I was able to ignore it.

I just adored this little feature! It follows the original Grahame story faithfully, more so than any
other adaptation I’ve ever seen. There were a few minor changes of course but they left in the important things (including the Pan and Wayfarer sequence). The movie also had quite a few wonderful songs (a must for an animated film), lot of which used the verses and dialogue from the book!

This version of The Wind in the Willows starred many wonderful voice talents too including those of Roddy McDowall as Ratty (who was such a great actor that he had appeared in over 200 movies or voiced characters in them before his death in 1998) and Charles Nelson Reilly as Toad (who is probably best known for voicing Killer from All Dogs Go to Heaven). I suggest everyone should see this little gem! That is, if you ever can get your hands on it. Unfortunately it has never been released to DVD and the VHS tapes are rare now. I watched an old copy from my library.

Legendary Irish King is Teresa Medeiros’ First Hero

He is called Conn of the Hundred Battles, the warrior-king who forged a nation from a land of isolated clans. As High King of Ireland, he rides with the legendary Fianna, his elite band of warriors. But a threat to the throne looms from a mysterious scourge who has vanquished several of Conn's bravest warriors. Conn rides out alone to face a seemingly invincible foe, never expecting that he will confront a grief-maddened hellcat with emerald eyes and hair like liquid flame....

Wielding a sword called Vengeance, Gelina ó Monaghan has sworn to defeat the man she holds responsible for her family's ruin. She never dreamed she'd be bested by him in combat...and lose her heart in the bargain. Their forbidden passion will become a private war fought with swords and kisses, promises and betrayal--and surrender will be only the beginning....

In 1989, a historical romance author named Teresa Medeiros had her first book published and it was called Lady of Conquest. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved stories about Ireland and I still feel the same today. So I was excited when I found out that one of my favorite authors got her start with a book set in Ireland during the time of the Fianna in A.D. 123 featuring one of Ireland’s legends (kind of like King Arthur), Conn of the Hundred Battles. I did have my doubts though.

Most great writer’s first books are usually not that good. They always seem to lack something or there seems to be too much of something (more often than not it’s an emotion, usually anger). Only over time and novels do the author seem to find their voices. To be honest, the only reason I read the book at all was because I hope to read all of her novels at some point. I really like Medeiros’ writing style and the fact that she believes in “happily-ever-afters”. That said, this book is no where near as good as her later works.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the story! I loved it and the characters were wonderful (you can really empathize with them) but I just felt like some things were so harsh that it helped make some parts of the story unbelievable. How two people can go from wanting/trying to kill one another to being in love is beyond me!

Some people may like Lady of Conquest but I just felt that something wasn’t quite right. I advise you to try some of Medeiros’ recently published books first and then if you enjoy them like I do, work you way back to her first novel and see the dramatic difference. Teresa Medeiros wrote this in 1999 about this book:

“My heroes and heroines always seem to be on the verge of either kissing or killing each other. Conn of the Hundred Battles and Gelina O’Monaghan in Lady of Conquest are no exception. For you loyal romance fans, I have to assure you that the kissing always wins out in the end! Lady of Conquest was first published almost ten years ago. I wrote it with all the joy and passion of a crazed twenty-one-year-old, so if you find it a little more naughty and a little less politically correct than my more recent books, I hope you'll be gentle with me. It was my first time!”

Related Reviews

The Fairleigh Series

~Reminder: There are links behind the pictures to more information about Conn of the Hundred Battles and the Fianna

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Simply Messing About in Wind in the Willows

The boastful, unstable Toad, the hospitable Water Rat, the wise Badger, and the Mole with his pleasant habit of boyish impulse," noted Vanity Fair nearly a century ago, "are types of that deeper humanity which sways us all." Written by Kenneth Grahame as bedtime stories for his son, The Wind in the Willows continues to delight readers today. Basing his fanciful animal characters on human archetypes, Grahame imparts a gentle, playful wisdom in his timeless tales. Few readers will be able to resist an invitation to join the Wild Wooders at Toad Hall, enjoy a quick splash in the river with Rat and Mole, or take a swerving ride with Toad in a "borrowed" motor-car. But why say more? To use the words of Mr. Toad himself: "Travel, change, interest, excitement!... Come inside."

There are many classic children’s books that are still known and loved today and yet one of the best hardly ever gets the recognition it deserves. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame is such a great, timeless story! Originally published almost a hundred years ago, it still has a sort of timeless quality to it that every child (and adult) can still enjoy.

I just adored the characters (well everyone but vain Mr. Toad ) and how Grahame made them seem so human-like. If I had to pick one out of the foursome as my favorite it would be Ratty. He’s such an altogether friendly old chap! Mole isn’t that bad either and Mr. Badger reminds me of a gruff (but kind) old uncle. Their friendship is what holds the whole book together.

When I first read The Wind in the Willows, I was still really young so recently when I re-read it for my online reading group, (The Children’s Books of Yesterday- now deleted) it was like reading it for the first time. I honestly only remembered tiny bits and pieces such as the grand battle at Toad Hall and when Ratty and Mole visited Badger. It’s just described in such detail that you can nearly see it! I guess that’s why there have been so many different illustrated versions of the book. (My favorite is the ones done by E. H. Shepard who also did the illustrations for Winnie the Pooh).

There have also been numerous film, stage, and even a TV series adaptation of this book. The best known though is probably Walt Disney’s 30 minute featurette that makes up the second part of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. It later went on to become a popular ride at Disneyland called Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Well whatever version you read or see I still think nothing can top the original but make sure that your book copy says “unabridged” because this poor book has been butchered by so many people.

Related Reviews

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This Faerie Series is a Frosty Treat

I am Meredith Gentry, princess and heir apparent to the throne in the realm of faerie, onetime private investigator in the mortal world. To be crowned queen, I must first continue the royal bloodline and give birth to an heir of my own. If I fail, my aunt, Queen Andais, will be free to do what she most desires: install her twisted son, Cel, as monarch... and kill me.

My royal guards surround me, and my best loved–my Darkness and my Killing Frost–are always beside me, sworn to protect and make love to me. But still the threat grows greater. For despite all my carnal efforts, I remain childless, while the machinations of my sinister, sadistic Queen and her confederates remain tireless. So my bodyguards and I have slipped back into Los Angeles, hoping to outrun the gathering shadows of court intrigue. But even exile isn’t enough to escape the grasp of those with dark designs.

Now King Taranis, powerful and vainglorious ruler of faerie’s Seelie Court, has leveled accusations against my noble guards of a heinous crime–and has gone so far as to ask the mortal authorities to prosecute. If he succeeds, my men face extradition to faerie and the hideous penalties that await them there. But I know that Taranis’s charges are baseless, and I sense that his true target is me. He tried to kill me when I was a child. Now I fear his intentions are far more terrifying.

A Lick of Frost is the sixth and current book in
Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry series. There was never any doubt that I would love it but I think it surpassed even my expectations! I’m a huge fan of both of Hamilton’s series (the other being the Anita Blake) and I’m glad to report that the series doesn’t show any signs of slowing down or becoming predictable.

As with most of Laurell K. Hamilton’s stories; I can’t say too much about the book without giving away some major plot points. I will say that there are some major highs as well as major lows this time around and although I wasn’t too happy with how some things turned out, I think it was the best way to help the storyline continue to move along.

I do wish the Merry stories were a little longer and didn’t come out so far
apart because I have to say that waiting an entire year for the next installment is so frustrating! At least Ms. Hamilton does a great job of briefly helping the audience reacquaint itself with the characters and the current storyline without dragging it out or giving too much away for first-timers. The author and I agree that her series should be read in order though because you will be hopelessly lost if you don’t.

The Merry Gentry Series:
1. A Kiss of Shadows (2000)
2. A Caress of Twilight (2002)
3. Seduced By Moonlight (2004)
4. A Stroke of Midnight (2005)
5. Mistral's Kiss (2006)
6. A Lick of Frost (2007)
7. Swallowing Darkness (2008)
8. Divine Misdemeanors (2009)

Reminder: The pictures above are also links to more information about the series and an interview.

Author at Book Signing:

Related Reviews
Anita Blake Series:
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Café (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Take a Ride on the Night Road

Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals...a used hangman's noose...a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can't help but reach for his wallet.

I will "sell" my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder...

For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn't afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts — of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What's one more?

But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. It's the real thing.

And suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door...seated in Jude's restored vintage Mustang...standing outside his window...staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting — with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand...

A multiple-award winner for his short fiction, author Joe Hill immediately vaults into the top echelon of dark fantasists with a blood-chilling roller-coaster ride of a novel, a masterwork brimming with relentless thrills and acid terror.

I used to love to read scary horror stories but recently I’ve been more into the mixed genres (like Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, & Laurell K. Hamilton). It was fun coming back to the old
horror and debut author Joe Hill does this fabulously in his novel Heart-Shaped Box. It was cool, fast-paced, and actually unique! I can’t say that the book was actually scary but it was quite creepy in a psychological way in some parts and the characters themselves are so interesting!

There were many aspects of Heart-Shaped Box that I loved but how music played such an important role in the books is one of the main ones. I also liked the way ghosts were portrayed as well. I’ve never said this before and I
probably won’t ever say it again but although I really enjoyed the book, I think Heart-Shaped Box would have made an even better movie. Can’t wait to see if someone in Hollywood will pick it up!

I doubt I would have found this wonderful book (and new author!) if it hadn’t have been for one of my online book groups (
The Reading Loft) choosing it as the October group read. Stephen King had better watch out, there’s a new guy in town... and he just happens to be his own son.

~The author's webpage is linked above but Heart-Shaped Box has it's own site complete with a book trailer and tons of other interactive things.

Reminder: The pictures above are also links to information and interviews.

Joe Hill Interview:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Deal Me In

What's she got? Kings over queens? Four aces? Straight flush? Whatever the beautiful blonde holds, watch out! Henry Fonda, Joanne Woodward and Jason Robards headline this sly, sassy Old West caper about a Texas town's humdinger of a poker game. A "reformed" gambler and homesteader (Fonda) sits down at the card table, loses his family's $4,000 startup stake - and then is dealt a fantastic hand. What happens next offers a full deck of suspense, humor and surprises, many involving an aces-high ensemble, (Charles Bickford, Burgess Meredith, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ford) and especially the newcomer's wife (Woodward), who says she hasn't a clue about how to play. A big hand? Give this clever, all-star comedy a standing ovation!

I have to admit, westerns have never really been my thing and I don’t know jack about poker but for some reason when I heard that TCM (Turner Classic Movies) was showing A Big Hand for the Little Lady I knew I just had to watch it and it turned out to be such a great film too!

The movie was originally made as a TV play called Big Deal in Laredo in 1962 but Warner Brothers decided to make it into a feature film in ‘66. For a film that mainly revolves around a poker table, it’s surprisingly almost suspenseful and continually kept me guessing.

I’d recommend seeing A Big Hand for the Little Lady for the ending alone but it also has a great cast and is genuinely interesting. There are not many movies that can get an undertaker, lawyer, a large landowner, two other rich men, a bank manager, doctor, a kid and a lady into one little room and it pull off without feeling like the director is just throwing people at you but this one does it with style.

~ This film has become available recently in The Leading Ladies Collection Vol. 2 and also has it’s own DVD too.

Reminder: There are links to more information about the movie behind the pictures above.

TCM (clips)

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's Wonderful in Wonderland

In the hands of Disney's extraordinary animation artists, Lewis Carroll's immortal literary classic comes to life like never before!
The surprises begin when a daydreaming Alice encounters a White Rabbit who is frantically running late. She chases him and falls into the magical, madcap world of Wonderland with its kaleidoscope of off-the-wall characters-- including Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Cheshire Cat, and the manic Mad Hatter and March Hare, who invite her to a memorable tea party! The crowning confrontation begins when Alice meets the notorious Queen of Hearts and her enchanted deck of playing cards. Tricked into a curious game of croquet, Alice, and her patience, end up on trial. Is there no escape from this whimsical escapade?
Filled with fantasy and topsy-turvy fun, Alice in Wonderland is teeming with spectacular songs and astonishing animation in the highest Disney tradition!

Title: Alice in Wonderland
Release: July 28, 1951
Genre: Animated
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Based On: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Writer: Winston Hibler, Ted Sears, Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinalidi, Milt Banta, William Cottrell, Dick Kelsey, Joe Grant, Dick Huemer, Del Connell, Tom Oreb, & John Walbridge
Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luse
Music By: Oliver Wallace
Produced By: Walt Disney
Studio: Walt Disney Productions
Distributed By: RKO Radio Pictures (theatrical)
Run Time: 75 minutes

For the longest time Disney’s Alice in Wonderland animated film was my absolute favorite childhood films. One I could watch a million times in a row and never get tired of. Maybe
because it doesn’t make you sad or because it’s just plain fun with all the songs and vivid colors but I always believed it to be one of Walt Disney’s finest achievements.

Recently I’ve discovered that I just might have to agree with the big man himself that the film is a little cold because almost everyone in Wonderland is unkind to Alice at some point or another and she really doesn’t have anyone to act off of. That’s not to say that I don’t still find the story, the animation, the voice work, and the songs absolutely enchanting though.

One of my favorite things about Alice in Wonderland is how they used such unique voices and Disney Legends for the characters. Alice herself is played by Kathryn Beaumont who later went on to voice Wendy in Peter Pan. Then there’s Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter (he appeared in several Disney films including Mary Poppins), Verna Felton as the Queen of Hearts (she played lead roles in Dumbo, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, & even The Jungle Book), and my personal favorite Sterling Holloway who of course played the Cheshire Cat (he has voiced many Disney characters but he’s most famous for Winnie the Pooh).

Another one of my favorite things about the thirteenth film (which did prove unlucky for Walt Disney originally) in the animated film canon is how creative and visually entertaining it actually is. Take those interesting creatures found in Tulgey Wood for example, those could have easily been scary for children but they aren’t! Even if I don’t enjoy this little film as much as I used to I have no problem telling you that it’s a genuine treasure that everyone should see.

I recommend this 2-disc DVD to any Disney enthusiast as it includes many songs not used in the final film and quite a few Walt Disney specials like the One Hour in Wonderland and Operation Wonderland.

Featured Songs
Alice in Wonderland
In a World of My Own
I'm Late
The Caucus Race
The Walrus and the Carpenter
All in the Golden Afternoon
A-E-I-O-U (The Caterpillar Song)
'Twas Brilling
The Unbirthday Song
Very Good Advice
Painting the Roses Red

Find Alice in Wonderland Online

Lenny's Alice in Wonderland Site (page about film)
Old Official Site UK
Kathryn Beaumont Fan Page


Disneyland Introduction:

Wonderful World Of Color Introduction:

Related Reviews
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Visitors from Oz by Martin Gardner
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor
Alice in Wonderland (1933)

Kathryn Beaumont-Alice
Challenge to Lassie (1949)- Tenement Child (uncredited)
Sterling Holloway- Cheshire Cat
The Jungle Book (1967)- 'Kaa' the Snake
Mickey and the Beanstalk aka Fun and Fancy Free (1947)- Narrator
Make Mine Music (1946)- Narrator (segment "Peter and the Wolf")
The Three Caballeros (1944)- Narrator for 'The Cold-Blooded Penguin'/Professor Holloway
Bambi (1942)- Adult Thumper
Dumbo (1941)- Mr. Stork
Alice in Wonderland (1933)- Frog
Jerry Colonna- March Hare
Make Mine Music- Narrator for Casey at the Bat
Verna Felton- Queen of Hearts
The Jungle Book (1967)- Winifred (the elephant)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)- Flora
Cinderella (1950)- Fairy Godmother
Dumbo (1941)- The Elephant Matriarch/Mrs. Jumbo
J. Pat O'Malley- Tweedledee / Tweedledum / The Walrus / The Carpenter
The Jungle Book (1967)- Col. Hathi the Elephant (voice) / Buzzie
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)- Cyril Proudbottom
Bill Thompson- White Rabbit / Dodo
Sleeping Beauty (1959)- Hubert
Queenie Leonard- Bird in the Tree
Doctor Dolittle (1967)- Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
My Fair Lady (1964)- Cockney Bystander (uncredited)
James MacDonald- Dormouse
Fun and Fancy Free (1947)- Mickey Mouse

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Furling Adventure

In this rousing, magical adventure filled with whimsy, laughter, and charm, a host of fun-loving characters takes you on an unforgettable journey in a land called Dapplewood. Three friends, Abigail the wood mouse, Edgar the mole and Russell the hedgehog, find their tranquil lives disrupted when a chemical spill destroys Dapplewood. When the toxic spill causes their best friend to fall ill, the three pals set off on an extraordinary journey to save both their friend and their home.

One of the most beautiful and heartwarming animated films about animals came out in the spring of 1993, it was called Once Upon a Forest. With such wonderful voice talent (featuring the voice of Phantom of the Opera star Michael Crawford), beautiful music by one of the really great composers James Horner, and incredible animation (the kind you
want to frame and put on your wall), it’s seems wrong that this classic movie gets referred to as “kind of like Ferngully”.

I first watched this film when I was only 7 years old and only vaguely remembered seeing it so when I realized it was on TV today I just had to watch it! Surprisingly, it was even better than I thought it would be. There were very few songs (for James Horner anyway) but each were incredibly beautiful, especially "Please Wake Up" sung by Cornelius (voiced by Michael Crawford).

For such a wonderful film (it was even nominated for an Annie for Best Animated Feature), Once Upon a Forest didn’t go over too well with the parents or the critics when it first came out (most thought it too scary) but has since been recognized for it’s genius. There are fan sites available even today online. Hopefully I’ll live to see the day when animated films with heart and courage like this one are made again.

~ Once Upon a Forest is based on the Welsh story The Furlings by Rae Lambert


Longer Trailer:

Life is a Banquet with Mame

I stumbled across a musical called Mame (1974) starring Lucille Ball the other day and I loved it! The movie is based on the Broadway musical by Jerry Herman that starred the ever lovely Angela Lansbury but to be honest I can’t see anyone but Lucy as the eccentric Mame. I also adored the hilarious Beatrice Arthur who played Mame’s "bosom buddy" Vera Charles.

From what I can see, the film wasn’t a huge hit (although it was nominated for two Golden Globes) because most people thought Lucille Ball was too old to play Auntie Mame but I personally loved the seasoned lady. It gave more authenticity to the fact that she was a fun-loving, eccentric aunt.

This being a musical I guess I should say something about the songs: they’re cute but nothing I have to run right out and buy (the soundtrack has always been kind
of hard to get hold of until recently). What I loved about this film had little to do with the singing --although to be honest, I loved hearing Lucille Ball sing (she did all her own parts)– no, what I loved was how humorous and altogether fun Mame was. This movie is definitely something that I will add to my collection soon.

~ Warner Brothers has released Mame to DVD this year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include many bonus features other than a featurette called Lucky Mame and the original trailer.

Bosom Buddies

Lucille Ball Interview:

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