Alice in Wonderland
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I needn't have worried. Sure, this suffers from all of the defects one would expect of such a lavish star-vehicle from the day - too much rushing through scenes (even at its original 90 minutes, trying to shunt together big hunks of both "Alice" and "Through the Looking Glass" is going to feel thin), an Alice (Charlotte Henry) who is both too old and just not expressive enough for the part, a director (Norman Z. McLeod) sometimes content to point-and-shoot, and some celeb bits (Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle in particular) that just aren't that great or are too short. And this is one of those rare black and white films where I actually thought more than once while watching "gee, I wish this had been in color". Somehow "Alice" more than almost any classic story, seems to demand a riotous palette of hues.
BUT the sets and art direction - supervised by an uncredited William Cameron Menzies, one of the greatest art directors/production designers of all time but listed here only as co-screenwriter - is truly wonderful, capturing at times the surrealism and madness of the tale with an expressionist's palate of odd shapes and complex backgrounds.Read more ›
Other customer reviews note a rumored 90 minute version of ALICE and berate USHE for only releasing the supposedly shortened version of the film on DVD. I'm here to tell you that the myth of the 90 minute version is just that--a myth.
I've had occasion to look into the making of this movie twice. Once, fleetingly, for my 2003 biography of W.C. Fields, and more deeply for a book I'm currently preparing on William Cameron Menzies. I've read the MPPDA file on the film, seen many of the reviews, noted contemporary articles on its making, and examined various drafts of Menzies' illustrated screenplay. At no time was the film any longer than 76 minutes. The Variety review, published December 26, 1933, gives its length as 76 minutes, and the 1935-36 Motion Picture Almanac (the earliest I have at hand) gives it as 75 minutes. (Close enough.) There are no major scenes in the shooting script, dated September, 1933, that are not in the film, and the Hays Office file shows that no eliminations were required at any time. In fact, Dr. James Wingate, in approving the film on December 9, 1933, commended the studio on an excellent job. "We trust that, in addition to the satisfaction of having produced one of the most notable pictures of the year, Paramount will also find that the picture will measure up at the box office to its outstanding production quality."
In terms of the DVD itself, the picture quality seems just fine to me.Read more ›
transfer quality and sound are both 'okay.' not great, not poor - just okay.
single disc, extremely bare bones packaging. NO special features whatsoever. yet another missed opportunity in the mishandling of a classic film.
if you LOVE this version of the story, buy it. if you're a die-hard alice/carroll fan, buy it. if you absolutely NEED everything cary grant, gary cooper or w.c. fields (or even edward everett horton, baby leroy, or sterling holloway) ever attached their names to, buy it. or you could wait until a miracle occurs and a studio somewhere starts to take pride in its back catalogue, releasing films uncut, unedited (hays code cuts are still in effect, really? in THIS day and age?!), with at least SOME minimal effort put into production... but i wouldn't hold my breath.
three stars as-is, because the movie, weird as it is, cut-up as this version is, does radiate a certain charm (and this is, in all likelihood, the ONLY version we're gonna get); otherwise, i'd give it a pass.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A bit primitive, but has it;s moments........ fun to watch.Published 2 months ago by shannon taylor
I've always loved this version (my personal favorite), watching it on our black and white tv as a child. Does it get any better with Gary Cooper as the White Knight? Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jenny B.
Dreadful movie, I only bought it to go with my Cary Grant collection. Its more like a play. Not a movie. I love Cary Grant's movies, but this one truly sucked.Published 4 months ago by cookie monster
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