Friday, March 5, 2010

1933 - ALICE IN WONDERLAND, the Paramount version

Paramount, probably the more adventurous of the Hollywood studios, took their plunge into the Alice in Wonderland story with this film. 

The director Norman Z. McLeod was a comedy guy who had worked with the Marx Brothers but he made a pretty unfunny film this time.  The cast seemed to want to give it their best shot.   Supposedly Cary Grant is in some animal costume somewhere in the film.  W. C. Fields or at least his voice is Humpty Dumpty.  Gary Cooper is a knight who constantly falls off of his horse.  It looks like every actor under contract to Paramount got stuck into this film.   The actor playing Alice, Charlotte Lewis, found out that this part was a career killer and eventually got out of the movie business.  

The screenwriter Joseph L. Mankiewicz was a talented guy.  He mixed parts of both Alice books into the film but the whole thing seemed to have been too much for him.  Again, Alice just wanders around hanging out with one strange character after another.  The whole logic vs illogic theme is constantly hammered away.  I still feel the lack of an actual plot hurts the Alice stories.  There is just no point to any of this film.  The Wizard of Oz has equally fantastical situations but that movie is about something, Dorthy finding her way home.  In this film Alice wakes up from her dream and the film's over.  

There are some good parts in the film.  The Queen's croquet game features real live flamingos (who seem really pissed) and the Mad Hatter tea party has the actor Edward Everett Horton who plays the character like a weirdo instead of a manic nutcase.  I still don't see the point of Tweedledee and Tweedledum.  Just like in the Disney version they bring the film to a complete halt.  


I would rate this version below the Disney Alice, it's not as well made.  Both films are still pretty poor.

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