Alice in Wonderland movie from 1933 with Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, WC Fields, which Alice herself endorsed

Steve Silberman sez, "Holy Terry Gilliam prototype: The original, trippy 1933 film version of Alice in Wonderland by Norman 'Monkey Business' McLeod, starring Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, and W.C. Fields, now on DVD with a rave from Alice: 'A revolution in cinema history!'"

But only one can boast the endorsement of the original Alice: the 1933 Paramount "Alice in Wonderland," being released to DVD by Universal Studios Home Entertainment ($19.98, not rated), the current rights holder. In a Jan. 7, 1934, article in The New York Times, Alice Liddell, quoted under her married name, Mrs. Reginald Hargreaves, expressed admiration for the film that Hollywood had wrought from the story Carroll had invented for her some seven decades before.

"I am delighted with the film and am now convinced that only through the medium of the talking picture art could this delicious fantasy be faithfully interpreted," she declared, her words possibly burnished by a Paramount publicist. " 'Alice' is a picture which represents a revolution in cinema history!"

Another Trippy Rabbit Hole

Alice in Wonderland (1933)

(Thanks, Steve!)

27

  1. I swear I saw this on television one Easter in the late 80s, early 90s. I’ll have to rent it now, I guess.

  2. There’s a whole bit about this film and Alice Liddell’s “endorsement” of it in my favourite Alice-related film Dreamchild written by Dennis Potter with the Wonderland scenes produced by the always wonderful Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. The film tells the story of the real life Alice, her trip to the US and her relationship with Dodgson/Carroll (played by Ian Holm). Sadly, it’s not available on dvd which is a shame because I always seem to go on about it. The Wonderland scenes are just fantastic. You can probably download the film from the usual suspects (I certainly have a copy on this computer but I can’t remember where from) and it’s also up on Youtube (here). I was hoping that the hype for the new film would get it released but sadly not. Still it’s good to see this ’33 version get a release.

    (I’ve just read that, in fact, Dreamchild is being released on one of these DVD-R releases that MGM put out but I’ve heard pretty bad things about the lack of care they put into those releases. Can anyone confirm this? I also think that, unlike ordinary region 1 DVDs, the DVD-R versions are very easy to get imported to the UK)

    1. *That last bit was supposed to say “that the DVD-R version aren’t very easy to get imported” but my proof reading isn’t at its best today.

  3. this is one of my favorite movies of ALL times. i remember seeing it (too many years to say) a long time ago on television. i believe it was a snow day off from school. it was one of the films that made me fall in love with cinema. i was mesmerized and transfixed.

    the last time i checked it was NOT out on dvd. you have made me one happy rose bush with this news.

  4. About time! My VHS tape of it that I recorded off of PBS many eons ago is probably magnetized by now (and the picture was grainy & sound quality terrible). I’d love to see it restored to its original glory; and I was unaware of Alice Liddell’s endorsement of it – hope there’s an extra on the DVD about that.

    IMHO it’s probably the best screen adaptation of the “Alice” stories. However, I’m still waiting for “Dreamchild” to become available so I can see it, and I haven’t seen the Tim Burton movie yet.

  5. “I am delighted with the film and am now convinced that only through the medium of the talking picture art could this delicious fantasy be faithfully interpreted,” she declared, her words possibly burnished by a Paramount publicist.

    One can only hope. Otherwise, I shudder to think that someone who said something so bubbled-headed was ever adored by someone as brilliant as Carroll/Dodgson.

  6. This is another vote for Dreamchild. It was a touching story. Jim Henson did the special effects for the fantasy sequences. Just amazing.

  7. I can’t wait to see this. I love seeing all the different cinematic head-trips that come from that story. The one hobartimus mentioned is one of my favorites.

    Also, thanks, annoyingmouse, for letting me know about Dreamchild. I just started watching the first Youtube installment. Hope it gets a real release soon.

  8. Modern adaptations of fairy tales always seem to need to substitute dismal darkness for wonder. Dreamchild was pretty dismal too as I remember. I’ll stick with the Parmount all star Alice and the Disney cartoon version.

    1. I think my sense of wonder is slanted towards the dark side. ;-)

      Anyway, it seems to me many of those fairy tales were pretty dark and dismal before Disney and Hollywood got to them.

      1. Anyway, it seems to me many of those fairy tales were pretty dark and dismal before Disney and Hollywood got to them.

        What’s dark about step-parents poisoning children, or witches cooking and eating children, or wolves eating grandmothers, or step-parents engaging in child slavery, or baby-stealing by dwarves?

  9. Another vote for Dreamchild. The expression on Coral Browne’s face, as the aged Alice, when she realizes that Charles Dodgson actually loved her is revelatory.

    The all-star, 1930s Alice is also very good, if my childhood memories are correct. I remember seeing it on TV a few times when I was a kid.

    Alice’s original stories are so good, so deep from the imagination, it is hard to make a bad version of them.

  10. The “Walrus and the Carpenter” sequence in this film was
    produced at Max Fleischer’s animation studio where the
    Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons were also made. It may have
    been released as a short but I could not find it on IMDb.

  11. I think Arthur C Clark had a theory that movie publicists had a special button on their keyboards that wrote “Never before in the history of cinema”.

  12. I like the BBC TV one form 1967. Directed by Jonathan Miller with music by Ravi Shankar.

Comments are closed.