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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:33 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
Not to mention Cary Grant as Mock Turtle and WC Fields as Humpty Dumpty! This movie sounds insane in a good way

Isn't it though? I saw this only once before, aged 13 I think. I was so intrigued by it's over-the-topness. I never forgot about this film over the last 35yrs. Now that Universal has jumped on the Tim Burton bandwagon, I am extremely happy to be the proud owner of this (admittedly cheap-ass edition) dvd. It's even stranger than I remembered it. An animated sequence too? Everything AND the kitchen sink! They did some wonderful things with 1933 special effects here. And hey, my 22mo old loves it even more than Wizard Of Oz. (That took some arm twisting.)

I was pleasantly surprised at how good this print looks. I don't think we'll ever see a 90min version. And, I may be the only person I know who thinks Charlotte Henry is quite brilliant here. She plays it understated while all the craziness swirls around her. She's impossibly lovely.

I haven't tired of multiple viewings, which my 22mo old now demands. There is obviously great respect for Carroll's work here. This one is a real charmer.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:59 am 
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I watched this last night and am pretty unsure what to think of. Perhaps it's just because 14 minutes are missing from this print, but the speed with which the various episodes are hurried through here was a little too much for me. You have no time to get to know and love these characters (quite unlike the book), and while it doesn't lack weird humour, it lacks charme. That most of the actors are hidden away behind masks doesn't make it better, even though it adds to the genuine bizarreness that the film has. It feels like a psychedelic fever dream for most of the time, with almost everyone constantly speaking very loudly or even shouting.

But why have all those great actors when most of them are unrecognizable? Horton is an exception, though even he isn't as funny as the Mad Hatter as I hoped him to be. W.C. Fields' Humpty is a highpoint, however, but basically because of his inimitable way of speaking. And Charlotte Henry is indeed a brilliant Alice, and perhaps the only genuinely likeable character here. Otherwise, the film is even more grotesque than Carroll's book. "Alice in Freak Show Land" wouldn't have been a totally inappropriate title for it.

In terms of set design, this is pretty amazing at the time, and I can't say I didn't like it, but somehow it gave me the creeps more than I suppose it was intended to do. It's hard to imagine that it would have endeared itself very much to a children's audience at the time.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:12 pm 
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I don't know that I would describe the characters in the book as necessarily loveable. The Wonderland creatures' behavior ranges from indifferent toward Alice to downright hostile, and even Alice herself remains somewhat detached (outside of the original illustrations, Carroll never really gives us much indication about who she is, aside from some academic background).

Otherwise, I agree with you about this particular movie. I enjoy it more for its bizarre production design and visual effects than for its narrative or the performances. I can't say that I was as enamored with Charlotte Henry as you were. I give her credit for taking on such a difficult role, especially at a time when the story had not been tackled by a major studio, and she's certainly not bad. I feel that (through no fault of her own), she just gets swallowed up by everything around her. My favorite Alice to this day remains Fiona Fullerton in the 1972 British musical. That film's not great either, and although Fullerton was, like Henry, way too old for the part, she has a likeable quality that is sweet without being cloying.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:05 am 
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I didn't mean to say that the characters in the book are 'loveable' (at least not all of them), but it is possible to 'love' them just for being those characters. I also 'love' Shakespeare's Richard in that sort of way. And I found it difficult to reach this same 'understanding' with the characters as presented in this film, simply because they are all played for freakishness in an all too similar way.

Feego wrote:
although Fullerton was, like Henry, way too old for the part, she has a likeable quality that is sweet without being cloying.

I would say the same about Henry, but that's probably a complete subjective affair. What I thought of when watching this was how these old productions sometimes had grown-up young ladies play children or young adolescents and how they were doing it in such a way that it's entirely believable. I think of some Mary Pickford or Lilian Gish films here. I somehow imagine this would be next to impossible with the teenagers of our time.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:36 am 
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You're probably right about Charlotte Henry, and to be fair, I haven't seen the film in several years (I bought the DVD, but haven't gotten around to watching it), so my memory of her performance has faded somewhat, while my memories of the production design have lingered. And I certainly agree about the freakishness of the film's characters, particularly Cary Grant's over-the-top boo-hooing as the mock turtle and May Robson's strange "blubbering" (for lack of a better word) as the Queen of Hearts.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:27 am 
Dot Com Dom
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm
I finally saw this weird-o movie and all the reactions here are about on-par: it's a mess, but the audacity of its existence is kind of its raison d'être isn't it? For the question of why Universal cast all of its stars and then disguised them in strange outfits and DisneyLand suits, I think the better parallel is animation voice work-- I strongly doubt Fields was in the egg costume or Grant in the mock turtle, but you're getting their voices and that's part of the appeal (unless hideous/horrifying facial makeup is your scene). Also, Gary Cooper is so disarmingly lively in this film that it makes him almost unrecognizable despite the fact that he's one of the few actors to clearly be occupying their get-up!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:08 pm 
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The "Alice" books are reliable for inspiring messy but whacked-out adaptations. One of my favorites is an obscure 1949 version that combines often grotesque stop-motion creations by Lou Bunin with Gilbert/Sullivan-esque music: Clip 1, Clip 2


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