Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Robert's Special Movie Pick of the Week: Alice in Wonderland (1933)

I wonder what Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland film adaptation will be like to watch on the silver screen? I have not yet seen it, although one thing is for certain: the new film will utilize an extensive array of visual effects.

Walt Disney’s 1951 adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale is undoubtedly the most well-known of the film versions. Although it has not received the best reviews upon its original release, it is celebrated as one of the most beloved Disneyland rides. However, due to the release of the new film, DVD companies released little-known versions of one of the most beloved children’s books. Being a classic movie buff and a film historian, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and bought the first version that really caught my eye.

It was the all-star cast version way back from 1933 and directed by Norman McLeon. This Alice in Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass combination included screen legends such as Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, W.C. Fields, Charlie Ruggles, Sterling Holloway (who by the way voiced Cheshire Cat in the 1951 Disney version of the film!), Ford Sterling, May Robson, and Edward Everette Horton. I admit that it was funny seeing Cary Grant, one of Hollywood’s greatest leading man, in a turtle suit weeping like baby throughout his entire performance; and Gary Cooper, the great western hero from High Noon playing a bumbling White Knight who can’t even ride a horse. Nevertheless, Edward Everett Horton was perfect as the Mad Hatter, and Charlotte Henry gave a magnificent performance as Alice. There is not much to say for the plot as it was much like the books, although the film is similar to the then contemporary play by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus.

The 1933 Alice-in-Wonderland version is told with costumes, beautiful sets, and superb acting instead of the use of visual effects to make up what you see as it is done in the new Tim Burton film. My big question is whether all of those visual effects are essential to make a good movie - even a story as weird, wacky, and imaginative as Alice in Wonderland? That is exactly what I intend to find out. You will be the judge!

Whatever you may think about old movies, the 1933 version of Alice in Wonderland is a fun, witty, wacky experience for any movie-goer!

movie rating on scale 1-100: Robert Steven Mack 100/100
Copyright 2010 by Robert Steven Mack

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