ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Certainly, the film treats the book liberally, mixing elements from Alices Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1871) all over the place the film begins, for example, not with the famous scene where Alice follows the White Rabbit down a hole (although this scene does occur in the middle of the film) but by walking through the mirror, the less-remembered opening from Alice Through the Looking Glass. This freewheeling attitude toward the book annoyed many Lewis Carroll purists. On the whole though, this is not too bad. It is otherwise surprisingly faithful to the spirit of Lewis Carroll and finds a visual equivalent of the nonsense poetry, unlike the stumbling literalizations of many other adaptations. Far more crippling are the drab and dumpy costumes that the cast are outfitted with, which look exactly like actors kitted out in ill-fitting costumes. Nevertheless, some of the character set-pieces come off well the ones we are used to like the Red Queens croquet game (which is conducted somewhat ungainily using real flamingos), The Mad Hatters Tea Party, the Cheshire Cat and some we are less used to the encounters with Humpty Dumpty and Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Especially good is Gary Coopers White Knight.
The film was made in an era (the 1930s) when fantasy even in fantastic cinema remained resolutely prosaic and pedestrian. The film should be noted for its willingness to let the fantasy fly with all the nonsense absurdism of Lewis Carroll Alice floats down the stairs and literally drowns in her tears. The climax is a memorably surrealistic set-piece featuring talking roasts and pudding and a banquet of flying teapots. The opening with Alice stepping in through the looking glass and finding a mirror-reversed room and the backs of the photos that hang on the wall is quite magical. The shrinking and enlarging effects are conducted with effective simplicity.
Director Norman [Z.] McLeod was a classic comedy director of the 1930s and 40s. He made early Marx Brothers films such as Monkey Business (1931) and Horse Feathers (1932), Its a Gift (1934) with W.C. Fields and Road to Rio (1947), the fifth of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby Road movies. In genre material, McLeod also made the ghost screwball comedy Topper (1937) and its sequel Topper Takes a Trip (1938), and the Danny Kaye daydreamer fantasy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947).
The other screen adaptations of Alice in Wonderland are:- Alice in Wonderland (1903), a silent British short; Alices Adventures in Wonderland (1910), a silent American short; Alice in Wonderland (1915); Alice Through the Looking Glass (1928); Alice in Wonderland (1931), the first sound version; the partly stop-motion animated French Alice in Wonderland (1949); the classic Disney animated version Alice in Wonderland (1951); the NBC tv version Alice in Wonderland (1955); the modernised Hanna-Barbera animated tv special Alice in Wonderland, or Whats a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1966); the NBC tv production Alice Through the Looking Glass (1966); the all-star British film Alices Adventures in Wonderland (1972) featuring Michael Crawford, Ralph Richardson, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Dudley Moore; the BBC tv production Alice Through the Looking Glass (1974); the Italian tv mini-series In the World of Alice (1974); a 1976 Argentinean film version; a pornographic version Alice in Wonderland (1976); a Spanish film version Alice in Spanish Wonderland (1979); the Belgian film Alice (1982), which features equivalents of the Wonderland characters in the modern world; a US tv production Alice in Wonderland (1982); a US tv version Alice at the Palace (1982) with Meryl Streep as Alice; a BBC musical version A Dream of Alice (1982) with Jenny Agutter as Alice; a British tv series Alice in Wonderland (1985); Irwin Allens all-star tv mini-series Alice in Wonderland (1985) featuring Roddy McDowall, Telly Savalas and Shelley Winters; a BBC tv series Alice in Wonderland (1986); the animated Alice Through the Looking Glass (1987); having been combined with the Care Bears in the animated The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland (1987); Jan Svankmajers bizarrely brilliant Claymation animated Alice (1988); Woody Allens modernised urban spin Alice (1990); the US tv series Alice in Wonderland (1991); the British tv version Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998) with Kate Beckinsale as Alice and an all-star cast; the Hallmark tv version Alice in Wonderland (1999) with Tina Majorino as Alice and an all-star cast; Alices Misadventures in Wonderland (2004), a modernised indie film take on the story; Alice (2009), a modernised tv mini-series starring Caterina Scorsone as Alice entering into a dark science-fictional wonderland; Malice in Wonderland (2009), a modernised British film that translates Wonderland into an urban environment; Alice in Murderland (2010), an Alice in Wonderland-themed slasher film; Tim Burtons big budget Alice in Wonderland (2010) and its sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016); Alyce (2011), another modernised urban translation; and the modernised tv series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013-4). Also of note is Dennis Potters tv play Alice (1965), which explores Lewis Carrolls relationship with Alice Liddell, the young girl who became the model for Alice, and the later film Dreamchild (1985) in which the real-life Alice reminisces back on her memories of Lewis Carroll and the writing of the story.