Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Star Studded Alice

The 1933 film version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was an all-star Paramount Pictures undertaking. It is mostly live-action, except for The Walrus and The Carpenter, which was animated by Max Fleischer's studio.

Stars featured in the film included Charlotte Henry as Alice, W. C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Edna May Oliver as the Red Queen, Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle, Gary Cooper as the White Knight, Edward Everett Horton as The Mad Hatter, Charles Ruggles as the March Hare, and Baby LeRoy as The Joker.

Title: Alice in Wonderland
Release: December 22, 1933
Genre: Family-Fantasy
MPAA Rating: G
Based On: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Writer: Joseph L. Mankiewicz & William Cameron Menzies
Director: Norman Z. McLeod
Music By: Dimitru Tiomkin
Produced By: Louis D. Lighton
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Run Time: 90-77 minutes
Site About the Movie

One of the few of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland adaptations that isn’t a musical, Paramount’s 1933 all-star cast that includes Gary Cooper, W.C. Fields, and Cary Grant among the actors playing these mad characters. Oft compared to the Eva Le Gallienne stage production, this was in fact inspired a good deal by it. This Paramount adaptation has the distinction of being the fifth Wonderland film ever made of this wonderful story.

At the time of its release, the star billing is mainly what attracted audiences but unfortunately, it’s hard to distinguish who is who under those bulky costumes (it was rumored that the actors in the full-body costumes weren’t even in them, they just did voice-overs, which is why this film did so poorly at the box office). Time hasn’t changed things much since I could only pick out the actors with very distinct voiced such as W.C. Fields (Humpty Dumpty), Stanley Holloway (the Frog here, later the Cheshire Cat in Disney’s animated version), and of course Cary Grant (Mock Turtle). I will note however that a good majority of the costumes look like they’re right out of Tenniel’s original illustrations though.

While I thought parts of the film were unique (such as starting with the beginning of Through the Looking Glass and then shifting back and forth between the two), the fact that the story bounces around so much is enough to make one's attention start to wander. At one point I found myself more worried about the way Charlotte Henry; (a mostly unknown actress) who plays Alice, was holding her flamingo (yes, it was real too) than about the croquet scene! Parts of the film just felt plopped into to me too such as when Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum recite The Walrus and the Carpenter, they open a little window onto a Harman and Ising cartoon that could have been the highlight of this film and yet, it too was less than inspiring.

Find Alice in Wonderland Online

Cary Grant Fan Page
Article about actress Charlotte Henry

ALICE in Wonderland 1933 #1

Related Reviews
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Disney's Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Visitors from Oz by Martin Gardner
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

Cary Grant- Mock Turtle
Houseboat (1958)- Tom Winters
His Girl Friday (1940)- Walter Burns
Bringing Up Baby (1938)- Dr. David Huxley
Sterling Holloway- Frog

The Jungle Book (1967)- 'Kaa' the Snake
Alice in Wonderland (1951)- Cheshire Cat
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
Roscoe Karns- Tweedledee
His Girl Friday (1940)- McCue
May Robson- Queen of Hearts
Bringing Up Baby (1938)- Aunt Elizabeth Random
Charles Ruggles- March Hare
Bringing Up Baby (1938)- Maj. Horace Applegate
Billy Bevan- Two of Spades (uncredited)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)- Joe, Bartender (uncredited)


  1. It would be interesting to see that just to see how far we've come with special effects.

  2. Using Cary Grant's voice, but not his gorgeous face?

    Sad mismanagement, that!

  3. Love the photos and video. Alice is one of my favorites! What a contrast from the old to the upcoming Tim Burton film!

  4. Bermudaonion: The special effects weren't all that bad actually. A little dated but not too bad.

    Kate Diamond: I know right?!

    Alyssa Kirk: It certainly is. I really am looking forward to seeing the new one though.

  5. wow! I can say I've seen the movie but can't say how many centuries ago! I'd watch it if it came up on Turner Classics or American Movie Classics thats for sure..

  6. Deslily: I caught it on TCM the first time I watched it but this time I watched it online.

    Naida: Me either!



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