REVIEW: ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1933)

CAST

Charlotte Henry (Harmony at Home)
Richard Arlen (Tropic Fury)
Roscoe Ates (Three Texas Steers)
William Austin (Batman 1943)
Gary Cooper (The First Kiss)
Cary Grant (She Done Him Wrong)
Sterling Holloway (the Adventures of Superman)

Left alone with a governess one snowy afternoon (Alice’s sister does not appear in this version), Alice is supremely bored. She idly starts to wonder what life is like on the other side of the drawing room mirror, when she suddenly feels a surge of confidence and climbs upon the mantelpiece to look. She discovers that she can pass through the looking glass and finds herself in a strange room where many things seem to be the exact reverse of what is in the drawing room. Strangely, through all of this, the governess does not seem to notice what has happened.


Alice looks out the window and suddenly sees a White Rabbit. She follows it to a rabbit hole and falls in. Seeing nobody else there, she comes upon a table with a key to a locked door, and a bottle that bears the sign “Drink Me”. In a situation exactly reversed from the book, she grows to enormous size after drinking the bottle’s contents. Unable to pass into the room beyond the locked door, she begins to cry. A cake with a sign saying “Eat Me” appears. She eats the cake, shrinks to a tiny size, and is immediately swept along into a flood caused by her own tears. Many more of her adventures follow, combining sections of Through the Looking Glass with the original Alice. At the end, Alice is awakened from her dream, not by the “pack of playing cards”, but by a riotous celebration that goes completely haywire after she is crowned Queen.Image result for ALICE IN WONDERLAND 1933 Brilliantly directed by Norman Mc Cleod, shot in monochrome, and released in 1933, Charlotte Henry beautifully portrays Alice’s innocence and wonderment as she learns each life’s lesson and gains confidence in herself, facing and conquering her inner fears on her journey of abandonment through the surreal Radula space that is Wonderland. The direction is witty and fast-paced and Norman Mc Cleod’s direction creates many interesting juxtapositions on the story – beginning with the opening winter scene from ‘Through the looking glass’ and not the May boat ride and picnic one normally anticipates.

On the journey there are some fabulous cameo performances from such notables as Gary Cooper, WC Fields, and Ford Sterling; and Edna May Oliver as The Red Queen is just the best; but the cameo that shines out for my family was the wonderful pathos infused by Cary Grant as The Mock Turtle.Another very clever aspect is that the sets and the actions and motions of the characters accurately represent Tenniel’s immortal illustrations. The acting is impeccable.

Once you watch it you will be hooked.

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