Looking Backward: Alice in Wonderland (1933)

4 May

I couldn’t help but think that had the studio sprung for Technicolor, this version of Alice in Wonderland (shown as the inaugural pick in the Illeana Douglas-curated “Second Looks” Fridays in May) would be well known to us all. Such are the fickle ways of syndication.

Brilliant design by William Cameron Menzies. And an adaptation that’s surprisingly…not faithful, exactly, but certainly uses more Carroll material than most film versions: case in point the extended Schlesinger-produced “The Walrus & the Carpenter,” which is lovely. And the visual effects (Alice’s blurred growing/shrinking, the looking glass) more than make up for the stagey quality of the non-fx camera work.

Alice in Wonderland (1933)

Someone can rock ME to sleep tonight, thank you very much. Hold the pepper.

The costumes, which are said to be to blame for the film’s initial box office failure (because they seem to take great pains to obscure every celebrity puss to the point of complete unrecognizability), are fascinating anyway, almost into the puppet realm of at least Kroft if not quite Henson. Though I’m pretty sure I’ll be seeing the Pudding from the final What-The-Hell?! Banquet in my waking nightmares for years to come…

At any rate, as cinematic Alices go, this was such fun – occasionally upsetting and freakish, but isn’t the book?

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