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ALICE IN WONDERLAND (director: Norman McLeod; screenwriters: from a Lewis Carroll book/Joseph L. Mankiewicz/ William Cameron Menzies; cinematographer: Henry Sharp/Bert Glennon; editor: Ellsworth Hoagland; music: Dimitri Tiomkin; cast: Richard Arlen (Cheshire Cat), Roscoe Ates (Fish), Charlotte Henry (Alice), Louise Fazenda (White Queen), Mae Marsh (The Sheep), William Austin (Gryphon), Leon Errol (Uncle Gilbert), W.C. Fields (Humpty Dumpty), Ford Sterling (White King), Polly Moran (Dodo Bird), Gary Cooper (White Knight), Sterling Holloway (Frog), Skeets Gallagher (White Rabbit), Cary Grant (Mock Turtle), Edward Everett Horton (Mad Hatter), Baby LeRoy (Joker), Edna May Oliver (Red Queen ) Jack Oakie (Tweedledum), Jackie Searl (Dormouse), Billy Bevan (Two of Spades), Charlie Ruggles (March Hare), Raymond Hatton (Mouse), Alec B. Francis (King of Hearts), Alison Skipworth (Duchess), Ned Sparks (Caterpillar); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Louis D. Lighton; Paramount; 1933)
What the curio lacks is the spirit of the classic novel.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The star-laden mannered version of Lewis Carroll’s unfilmable novel is set in England’s 19th century. Norman McLeod (“Let’s Dance”/”Never Wave at a WAC”/”The Paleface”) directs. The screenplay is mishandled by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and William Cameron Menzies. It forces a vast array of Carroll characters on us. Paramount parades out its top stars in costume, who are recognized mainly through their voices. Even if it catches our interest, it still disappoints with too much nonsense. The characters appear off the drawings by Tenniel. That’s a bad idea, leading to the film’s stagnation. What the curio lacks is the spirit of the classic novel.

On a chilly winter day Alice (Charlotte Henry) reads a book, with her cat by her side. When Alice looks into the mirror above the fireplace, she finds herself in the mirror and entering a fantasy land. Eventually finding her way into a garden where she encounters the Dodo Bird (Polly Moran), who recites history to her.

The gist of the children’s book story has Alice wandering around in the Wonderland, taking in all the colorful characters and absurd nursery rhymes. One of the characters is the W.C. Fields version of Humpty Dumpty. Which is good for a laugh.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”