- by Zoë
You're not going to tell me you don't know the story of Alice In
Wonderland!!!!! Go and read the book.......available from ALL booksellers!
- by Kelly McPherson
This rare 1933 movie adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic
"Alice in Wonderland" is a timeless treasure! With
Charlotte Henry in the starring role of Alice she charms and
intrigues you as she leads you through the wonderland of her
imagination crossing the paths of a colorful cast of characters
played by an all-star group of actors! This version is a true
classic and anyone who has the chance to see it should consider
themselves "lucky"! Just as I do for having found a copy
of one of my most memorable childhood memories!!
Film Review - December 26, 1933
- by "Rush"
- submitted by Barry Martin
A viewing of this feature brings
to the fore the fact that a screen story, as one of its first
essentials, has to have a definite progress - a parade of events
that dovetail and carry the interest along. A series of
scattered, unrelated incidents definitely won't do to hold
interest for an hour and a quarter.
That 'Alice in Wonderland' is
familiar ground to most grownups doesn't alter the
situation. Rather the fact that the book has a place in
hundreds of thousands of homes is an argument against it for
screen purposes. It's a book for adults to pick up for a few
moments of leisure. Nobody ever stayed up late to read it.
On the screen it is vividly
realized in all its fantastic angles. The humor is genuine
and the treatment satisfying on its literary side. But an
hour and a quarter of it is overpoweringly sedative.
It takes 10 minutes to get Alice
through the looking glass and into topsy-turvy-land. Then
the adventures start, each adventure being just another detached
incident surrounded by the same fantastic absurdity. Nothing
leads the attention along so attention wanders.
Cast brings together a stunning
aggregation of screen names but none of them count on the
screen. Each identity is concealed behind an elaborate
mask. Some of the players can be identified by tricks of
speech. Charles Butterfield couldn't be mistaken for anyone
else. W.C. Fields projects himself through the deep disguise
of Humpty Dumpty. A few are recognizable facially, notably
Edna May Oliver, as the Red Queen, and Louise Fazenda as the White
Queen. But Jack Oakie, as Tweedledum, might as well have
been Ed Doakes and any one of Joe Cook's stooges would have served
as well for the White Knight as played by Gary Cooper. Use
of heavy names for most of the parts represents a dead loss other
than for billing.
Picture is full of novelty effects
of fantasy and they're expertly managed, but mere trick effects
don't mean anything in a feature by themselves. Fans are too
familiar with the resources of the camera. For some strange
reason the visualization of 'Alice' falls lamentably short of the
reading. The printed page sets the imagination free to its
own unlimited devices. The screen chains it down to the
visual fact. In short, the immortal 'Alice' is one of the
timeless books beyond the reach of the camera.
One incident is made out of
extravagant paradox and it is followed by other detached episodes
constructed from the same material. Nothing grows out of
anything else in this phantasmagoria. It's like reading a
whole volume of separate four-line gags. It takes
It's the subject itself that
defeats the entertainment objective. The producer has dealt
with his task prodigally, and the acting is carried off with
enormous spirit. Examination of Alice by the Red and the
White Queens is a first rate bit of spirited comedy by Edna May
Oliver; W.C. Fields brusque handling of the Humpty-Dumpty scene is
excellent, and throughout the acting of Charlotte Henry, as Alice
is entirely unaffected and charming.
Any idea that the kids are going to
hail the picture probably will turn out a disappointment.
Like most of the other supposed children's classics, 'Alice' is
really a distinctly grown-up book. Juvenile patronage
probably won't be by choice of the kids themselves, but possibly
under grown-up duress.
NEW YORK TIMES
Film Review - December
- by Mordaunt
- submitted by Barry Martin
Alice and those pleasantly mad
companions of her trips in Wonderland and through the
Looking-Glass are now busy entertaining youngsters, and those who
would like to be, in 225 theatres in this country and Canada,
including the Paramount of this city. And it is safe to venture
that this pictorial transcription of the Carroll classics will
spread no end of cheer wherever it is shown.
It is a marvel of camera magic and
staging, but there are times when several of the players appear to
be giving more thought to their grotesque appearances than to the
inflection of their lines. Several of the voices are too harsh for
such charming nonsense, but, after all, it was no easy matter to
take pages here and there from the two books and splice them
together. The film is quite satisfactory, but it does lack the
smoothness and high quality of the Eva Le Gallienne stage
production. The scenes seldom give the pleasant mind's-eye picture
inspired by reading Alice's adventures and glancing at the Tenniel
As has already been widely
heralded, Charlotte Henry, a 17-year-old girl from New York, fills
the part of Alice. It is her idea of Alice and such is an
acceptable portrayal without creating any deep impression, such as
Josephine Hutchinson did in the role on the stage. Little Miss
Henry is attractive, but her histrionic ability is apparently
limited to a juvenile conception of moods. She speaks distinctly
but her enunciation lacks the all-necessary shading.
In those passages where the Carroll
lines have been treated with the distinction they merit, the film
is really downright good. For instance, W.C. Fields as the hapless
Humpty Dumpty gets everything out of the part, but on the other
hand, to mention a disappointing portrayal, Gary Cooper makes a
very poor White Knight. So far as the settings go they are set
forth with imagination and skill, and if the appearances of the
curious figures often out-Tenniel Tenniel, it is pardonable.
William Cameron Menzies, the art
director, never disappoints one. He is, however, at his best in
those scenes depicting the king's horses and men dashing to the
rescue of Humpty Dumpty.
The Walrus and the Carpenter appear
in a cartoon, in which the oysters also serve. The lachrymose Mock
Turtle is highly amusing. As the tears well from his eyes he sings
mournfully of "beautiful, beautiful soup." Cary Grant is
entrusted with this role.
In the initial stages of the film,
Alice is eager to get out in the snow, and as the time passes and
the world becomes unreal, she finds herself visiting the
looking-glass room, where the clock has an insolent fashion of
booming out the hour. As things go on and Alice falls and falls
after the worried White Rabbit, there come those glimpses where
she drinks and grows tall and eats and becomes small. This is
achieved with considerable cunning.
It is evidently no easy matter to
play croquet with a flamingo for a mallet! The tea party here is
only mildly interesting, except when the Carroll lines are not
spoken too fast, and the Queen of Hearts, played by May Robson, is
too eager to be heard and one is inclined to be relieved when she
makes herself scarce.
The Dodo Bird with Polly Moran as
the talker is splendid. In the picture one has the opportunity of
discovering what a grin looks like without the cat and of
harkening to Tweedledum and Tweedledee. No better Duchess could be
imagined than Alison Skipworth's and likewise Charles Ruggles
lends interest as the March Hare. Edward Everett Horton does well
as the Mad Hatter, but one would like to have heard more from him.
Ned Sparks plays the Caterpillar with a good understanding and
Ford Sterling is fair as the White King.
The Gryphon, with William Austin
inside, is another excellently done part and Skeets Gallagher as
the White Rabbit gives one a good impression of mingled worry and
The pen may be mightier than the
combined camera and microphone, but this "Alice in
Wonderland" is nevertheless very welcome.
DAILY TRIBUNE Film Review - December
- by Mae Tinée
- submitted by Renee Klish
Film of 'Alice'
Is Like Reading Carroll's Book
Intelligence of Production
This morning we have with us a very
famous little girl! Her name is Alice, and over on the
McVickers screen she steps through a looking glass and visits
Wonderland . . .
"Alice in Wonderland,"
the movie, you see, combines the openings of both Lewis Carroll's
books - for Alice not only steps "through a looking
glass," she also follows the white rabbit down the
hole. All of this being because, as Charlotte [Alice] Henry
recently explained, the fans who wrote in were undecided as to
which of the books they wanted filmed.
The amusing fantasy of Alice and
her quaint, fabled friends has been brought to the screen with
care and intelligence. You never saw such verity. It's
for all the world like turning the pages of the book and seeing
Sir John Tenniel's drawings in action. A marvelous
achievement of makeup and settings!
Those there be who think the film
would have been far more amusing with Alice as the only human in
the cast and the other characters portrayed by Disney cartoons
which was, originally, Mary Pickford's far-sighted notion.
Be this as may, there are few who will have heart or nerve to
criticize severely anything as workmanlike as the
characterizations evolved by the brilliant cast with the aid of their
perfectly stupendous makeup.
Though remarkable disguised, the
personalities of many of the players shine through their
camouflage - and it's fun trying to figure out those you can't
recognize. You couldn't be fooled on Cary Grant as he sings
the Mock Turtle song - and who else but Gary Cooper [or the prince
of Wales] could be the White Knight, who has such difficulty
staying astride his noble steed?
Then there's Sterling Holloway as
the Frog Footman, and none other than Alison Skipworth is the Ugly
Duchess who dandles on her knee the awful baby that turns into a
pig . . . As for Charlotte Henry - the girl who was chosen
from hosts of applicants for the part - she's a marvel! Just
your dream of Alice come true, with her long curls, her alert
eyes, her sudden illuminating smile - and the complete seriousness
with which she accepts her unprecedented adventures.
Little Miss Henry has a lovely
speaking voice and sings "Father William" most
The picture opens on a snowy
afternoon in a quiet English parlor. Here, a bored little
girl petitions her busily tatting governess to let her go out.
Do you think the snow will stop
soon, Miss Simpson?"
Miss Simpson doesn't know.
Why doesn't Alice do some work on her sampler? Alice doesn't
want to. She wanders about disconsolately, at last flinging
herself into an easy chair with a book and her kitten on her
lap. She is very drowsy . . .
The fire crackles. The snow
drifts. Miss Simpson tiptoes out. And Alice steps
through the looking glass . . .
Here is the cleanly, imaginative,
classical, amusing sort of film parents have been importuning
for. If they don't take themselves and their children to see
"Alice in Wonderland" they'll be ungrateful, to say the
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