Alice in Wonderland (1951 film)
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|Alice in Wonderland|
1951 original theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Clyde Geronimi
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Written by||Winston Hibler
|Based on||Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Through the Looking-Glass:
J. Pat O'Malley
|Music by||Oliver Wallace|
|Editing by||Lloyd L. Richardson|
|Studio||Walt Disney Productions|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Running time||75 minutes|
Alice in Wonderland is a 1951 American animated fantasy-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based primarily on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with a few additional elements from Through the Looking-Glass. The 13th in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was released in New York City and London on July 26, 1951. The film features the voices of Kathryn Beaumont (who would later voice Wendy Darling in the 1953 Disney film Peter Pan) as Alice, and Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter.
On the bank of a tranquil English river, a young girl named Alice grows bored of listening to her older sister read aloud from a history book of William I of England. When her sister chastises Alice's daydreaming, Alice tells her kitten Dinah that she would prefer to live in a nonsensical dreamland called Wonderland. Alice and Dinah spot a waistcoat-wearing White Rabbit passing by, and Alice gives chase as he rushes off crying that he is "late for an important date". Alice follows him into a rabbit hole and falls into a labyrinth. Her long skirt catches her fall like a parachute and she begins to float. She sees the White Rabbit disappear into a tiny door and tries to follow, but the door's talking knob advises her to alter her size using a mysterious drink and food. Alice eventually manages to shrink and passes through the door's keyhole and into Wonderland. She meets several strange characters including the Dodo and Tweedledee and Tweedledum who recount the tale of "The Walrus and the Carpenter".
Alice eventually finds the White Rabbit in his house, but before she can ask what he is late for, she is sent to fetch some gloves. She eats a cookie and grows into a giant again, getting stuck in the rabbit's house. The White Rabbit, the Dodo, and chimney sweep Bill the Lizard believe Alice to be a monster and plot to burn the house down. Alice escapes by eating a carrot and shrinking down to the size of an insect. She meets and sings with some talking flowers, but they chase her away upon accusing her of being a weed. Alice is then instructed by the hookah-smoking Caterpillar to eat a part of his mushroom grow back to her original size. Alice decides to keep the remaining pieces of the mushroom on hand.
Alice meets the Cheshire Cat who advises her to visit the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the Dormouse. The three are hosting a mad tea party and celebrate Alice's "unbirthday", a day where it is not her birthday. The White Rabbit appears, but the March Hare and Mad Hatter destroy his pocketwatch and throw him out of the party. Fed up with all the wonderlandians' rudeness and wackiness, Alice abandons her pursuit of the White Rabbit and decides to go home, but gets lost in the Tulgey Wood. The Cheshire Cat appears and leads Alice into a giant hedge maze ruled by the tyrannical Queen of Hearts and her smaller husband, the King of Hearts. The Queen orders the beheading of anyone who enrages her, and invites Alice in a bizarre croquet match using flamingoes and hedgehogs as the equipment.
The Cheshire Cat appears again and pulls a trick on the Queen which she accuses Alice of doing, and Alice is put on trial. Just then, she remembers that she still has the remains of the Caterpillar's mushroom. She eats it and grows to an enormous height which the King claims is forbidden in court. Now a gigantic size, Alice feels free to speak her mind and in doing so she openly insults the Queen. However, she had hastily eaten both sides of the mushroom and shrinks to her normal size. She is forced to flee after the Queen orders her execution. Alice becomes pursued by most of Wonderland's characters until she finally reunites with the Doorknob, who then tells her she is having a dream, forcing Alice to wake herself up. The film ends as Alice and her sister head home for tea.
- Kathryn Beaumont as Alice
- Ed Wynn as Mad Hatter
- Jerry Colonna as March Hare
- Richard Haydn as Caterpillar
- Sterling Holloway as Cheshire Cat
- Verna Felton as Queen of Hearts
- J. Pat O'Malley as Tweedledum and Tweedledee/The Walrus and the Carpenter/Mother Oyster
- Bill Thompson as White Rabbit/Pat the Dodo
- Heather Angel as Mathilda (Alice's sister)
- Joseph Kearns as Doorknob
- Larry Grey as Bill the Lizard/Card Painter
- Queenie Leonard as A Bird in a Tree/Snooty Flower
- Dink Trout as King of Hearts
- Doris Lloyd as The Rose
- Jimmy MacDonald as The Dormouse
- The Mellomen (Thurl Ravenscroft, Bill Lee, Max Smith, and Bob Hamlin) as Card Painters
- Don Barclay as Other Cards
- Pinto Colvig as Flamingos (uncredited)
- Norma Zimmer as White Rose (uncredited)
- Marni Nixon as Singing Flower (uncredited)
- Lucille Bliss as Sunflower and Tulip
- Mel Blanc as Dinah/Wonderland creatures (uncredited)
The history of Walt Disney's association with Lewis Carroll's Alice books (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass) stretches all the way back to his childhood. Like many children of the time he was familiar with the Alice books and had read them as a school boy.
In 1923, when Disney was still a 21-year-old filmmaker trying to make a name for himself by working at the Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, making the unsuccessful short cartoon series by the name of Newman Laugh-O-Grams. The last of Newman Laugh-O-Grams was called Alice's Wonderland, which was loosely inspired by the Alice books. The short featured a live-action girl (Virginia Davis) interacting in an animated world. Faced with business problems, however, the Laugh-O-Gram Studio went bankrupt in July 1923, and the film was never released to the general public. However, Disney left for Hollywood and used the film as a sort of pilot to show to potential distributors. Margaret J. Winkler of Winkler Pictures agreed to distribute the Alice Comedies, and Disney partnered with his older brother Roy O. Disney and re-hired Kansas City co-workers including Ub Iwerks, Rudolph Ising, Friz Freleng, Carman Maxwell and Hugh Harman to form Disney Bros. Studios (later Walt Disney Productions). The series began in 1924 before being retired in 1927.
In 1932, Walt began toying with the idea of making an animated feature film and repeatedly turned to the idea of making a feature-length animated/live-action version of Alice starring Mary Pickford, and even purchased the rights to Sir John Tenniel's illustrations (still under copyright at the time). However, these plans were eventually scrapped in favor of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, mainly because Disney was put off by Paramount's 1933 live-action adaptation. However, Disney did not completely abandon the idea of adapting Alice, and in 1936 made the Mickey Mouse cartoon Thru the Mirror.
In 1938, after the enormous success of Snow White Walt Disney revived the idea of making an Alice feature and officially registered the title Alice in Wonderland with the Motion Picture Association of America and hired storyboard artist Al Perkins and art director David S. Hall to develop the story and concept art for the film. A storyreel was complete in 1939, but Walt was not pleased as he felt that Hall's drawings resembled Tenniel's drawings too closely making them too difficult to animate and that the overall tone of Perkins' script was too grotesque and dark. Realising the amount of work needed for Alice in Wonderland, as well as the economic devastation of the World War II and the production demands of Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi, Walt shelved production on Alice in Wonderland shortly after the screening.
In 1945, shortly after the war ended, Disney once again revived Alice in Wonderland and assigned British author Aldous Huxley to re-write the script. However Walt felt that Huxley's version was too much of a literal adaptaion of Carroll's book. Background artist Mary Blair submitted some concept drawings for Alice in Wonderland. Blair's paintings moved away from Tenneil's sketchy illustrations by taking a modernist stance, using bold and unreal colors. Walt liked Blair's designs, and the script was re-written to focus on comedy, music, and the whimsical side to Carroll's book.
Disney toyed with the idea of having a live-action/animated version of Alice in Wonderland (in a similar fashion to his Alice Comedies) that would star Ginger Rogers and would utilize the recently developed sodium vapor process. Lisa Davis Waltz (who would later voice Anita Radcliffe in One Hundred and One Dalmatians) and Luana Patten were also considered for the role of Alice. However Walt soon realised that he could only do justice to the book by making an all animated-feature, and in 1946, work began on an all-animated version of Alice in Wonderland.
Through various drafts of the script, many sequences that were present in Caroll's book drifted in and out of the story. However, Walt insisted that the scenes themselves keep close to those in the novel since most of its humor is in the writing.
One omitted scene from the 1939 treatment of the film occoured outside the Duchess' manor, where The Fish Footman is giving a message to the The Frog Footman to take to the Dutchess saying that she is invited to play croquet with The Queen of Hearts. Alice overhears this and sneaks into the kitchen of the manor, where she finds The Duchess' Cook maniacally cooking and the Duchess nursing her baby. The cook is spraying pepper all over the room causing the Duchess and Alice to sneeze and the Baby to cry. After a quick conversation between Alice and the Duchess, the quick-tempered Cook starts throwing pots and pans at the noisy baby. Alice rescues the baby, but as she leaves the house the baby turns into a pig and runs away. The scene was scrapped for pacing reasons.
Another scene that was deleted from a later draft occurred in Tulgey Wood, where Alice encountered what appeared to be a sinister-looking Jabberwocky hiding in the dark, before revealing himself as a comical looking dragon-like beast with bells and factory whistles on his head. A song "Beware the Jabberwock" was also written. However, the scene was scrapped in favor of The Walrus and the Carpenter poem.
Another cut scene in Tulgey Wood shows Alice consulting with The White Knight, which was meant to be somewhat of a caracature of Walt Disney. Although Walt liked the scene, he felt it was better if Alice learned her lesson by herself, hence the song "Very Good Advice"
In an effort to retain some of Carroll's imaginative verses and poems, Disney commissioned top songwriters to compose songs built around them for use in the film. A record number of potential songs were written for the film, based on Carroll's verses—over 30—and many of them found a way into the film, if only for a few brief moments. Alice in Wonderland would boast the greatest number of songs included in any Disney film, but because some of them last for mere seconds (like "How Do You Do and Shake Hands", "We'll Smoke the Monster Out", "'Twas Brillig", "The Caucus Race", and others), this fact is frequently overlooked. The original song that Alice was to sing in the beginning was titled "Beyond the Laughing Sky". The song, like so many other dropped songs, was not used by the producers. However, the composition was kept and the lyrics were changed. It later became the title song for Peter Pan (which was in production at the same time), "The Second Star to the Right". "Beyond the Laughing Sky" will also be spoofed as "Beyond the Sugar Sky" in Max: the Movie as Lora Pup sings to his Boyfriend Max as she wonders about the worlds outside of Noah's Neighborhood.
Release and reception 
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All of these creative decisions were met with great criticism from fans of Lewis Carroll, as well as from British film and literary critics who accused Disney of "Americanizing" a great work of English literature. Disney was not surprised by the critical reception to Alice in Wonderland – his version of Alice was intended for large family audiences, not literary critics – but despite all the long years of thought and effort, the film met with a lukewarm response at the box office and was a sharp disappointment in its initial release, earning an estimated $2.4 million at the US box office in 1951.
Though not an outright disaster, the film was never re-released theatrically in Walt Disney's lifetime, airing instead every so often on network television. In fact, Alice in Wonderland aired as the second episode of Walt Disney's Disneyland TV series on ABC in 1954, in a severely edited version cut down to less than an hour. In The Disney Films, Leonard Maltin relates animator Ward Kimball felt the film failed because "it suffered from too many cooks – directors. Here was a case of five directors each trying to top the other guy and make his sequence the biggest and craziest in the show. This had a self-canceling effect on the final product." Walt Disney himself felt that the film failed because Alice the character had no "heart."
Almost two decades after its original release, after the North American success of George Dunning's animated film Yellow Submarine (1968), Disney's version of Alice in Wonderland suddenly found itself in vogue with the times. In fact, because of Mary Blair's art direction and the long-standing association of Carroll's Alice in Wonderland with the drug culture, the feature was re-discovered as something of a "head film" (along with Fantasia and The Three Caballeros) among the college-aged and was shown in various college towns across the country. The Disney company resisted this association, and even withdrew prints of the film from universities, but then, in 1974, the Disney company gave Alice in Wonderland its first theatrical re-release ever, and the company even promoted it as a film in tune with the "psychedelic" times (mostly from the hit song "White Rabbit" performed by Jefferson Airplane). This re-release was successful enough to warrant a subsequent re-release in 1981. Its first UK re-release was on July 26, 1979.
Later, with the advent of the home video market, the Disney company chose to make Alice in Wonderland one of the first titles available for the rental market on VHS and Beta and for retail sale on RCA's short-lived CED Videodisc format. The film was released on October 15, 1981 on VHS, CED Videodisc, and Betamax and May 28, 1986 on VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc in the Walt Disney Classics, (though it was mastered for tape in 1985), staying in general release ever since, with a 40th Anniversary video release in 1991 (this and the 1986 video release were in Disney's Classics Collection). It was released on Region 1 DVD on July 4, 2000 (under the Gold Classic Collection DVD series). A fully restored Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection October 14, 1997 Fully restored limited edition 1.33:1 ratio two-disc "Masterpiece Edition" was released on August 2, 2005, including the full hour-long episode of the Disney television show with Kathryn Beaumont, Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, Bobby Driscoll and others that promoted the film, computer games, deleted scenes, songs and related materials, which went back on moratorium in January 2009. Disney released a 2-disc special "Un-Anniversary" edition DVD on March 30, 2010 in order to promote the then-new Tim Burton film. The movie was released in a Blu-ray/DVD combo on February 1, 2011 to celebrate its 60th anniversary featuring a new HD restoration of the movie and many released bonus features.
On the film aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, the overall rating of the film is a "fresh" 77% from 26 critical reviews with an average rating of 6.6/10. Its consensus states that "A good introduction to Lewis Carroll's classic, Alice in Wonderland boasts some of the Disney canon's most surreal and twisted images."
- American Film Institute lists
- Songs in the film
- "Alice in Wonderland" – The Jud Conlon Chorus and The Mellomen
- "In a World of My Own" – Alice
- "I'm Late" – The White Rabbit
- "The Sailor's Hornpipe" – The Dodo
- "The Caucus Race" – The Dodo and Animals
- "How Do You Do and Shake Hands" – Tweedledee and Tweedledum
- "The Walrus and the Carpenter" – Tweedledee and Tweedledum
- "Old Father William" – Tweedledee and Tweedledum
- "Smoke the Blighter Out" – The Dodo and The White Rabbit
- "All in the Golden Afternoon" – The Flowers and Alice
- "A-E-I-O-U" – The Caterpillar
- "'Twas Brillig" – The Cheshire Cat
- "The Unbirthday Song" – The Mad Hatter, The March Hare, and Alice
- "Very Good Advice" – Alice
- "Painting the Roses Red" – The Playing Cards (The Mellomen) and Alice/"Who's Been Painting My Roses Red?" (Reprise) – The Queen of Hearts and The Playing Cards
- "The Unbirthday Song" (Reprise) – The Mad Hatter, The March Hare, The Queen of Hearts, and The Playing Cards
- "The Caucus Race" (Reprise) – The Entire Cast Minus Alice
- "Alice in Wonderland" (Reprise) – The Jud Conlon Chorus and The Mellomen
- Songs written for film but not used
- "Beyond the Laughing Sky" – Alice (replaced by "In a World of My Own"; this melody was later used for "The Second Star to the Right" in Peter Pan)
- "Dream Caravan" – The Caterpillar (replaced by "A-E-I-O-U")
- "I'm Odd" – The Cheshire Cat (replaced by "'Twas Brillig")
- "Beware the Jabberwock" – Chorus (Stan Freberg, Daws Butler and the Rhythmaires), referring to deleted character
- "So They Say" – Alice
- "If You'll Believe in Me" – The Lion and The Unicorn (deleted characters)
- "Beautiful Soup" – The Mock Turtle and The Gryphon (almost yet deleted characters) set to the tune of the Blue Danube (the Walt Dinsey company also used Blue Danube in the two cartoons, Jungle Rhythm and Night).
- "Everything Has a Useness" – Meant for the Caterpillar, in which he explains to Alice that everything has a purpose—in this case, the use of the mushroom.
- "Curiosity" – unknown purpose
- "Humpty Dumpty"
- "Speak Roughly to Your Little Boy" – from the original book, meant for the 1939 pitch with grotesque character designs.
- "Will You Join the Dance"
- On the orange disc includes the only song "In a World of My Own."
Audio CD track listing 
- "Main Title (Alice in Wonderland)"
- "Pay Attention/In a World of My Own"
- "I'm Late"
- "Curiosity Leads to Trouble/Simply Impassable"
- "The Sailor's Hornpipe/The Caucus Race"
- "We're Not Waxworks"
- "How D'Ye Do and Shake Hands/Curious?"
- "The Walrus and the Carpenter"
- "Old Father William"
- "Mary Ann!/A Lizard with a Ladder/We'll Smoke the Blighter Out"
- "The Garden/All in the Golden Afternoon"
- "What Genus Are You?"
- "A-E-I-O-U (The Caterpillar Song/Who R U)"
- "A Serpent!"
- "Alone Again/'Twas Brillig/Lose Something"
- "The Mad Tea Party/The Unbirthday Song"
- "The Tulgey Wood" (Music incomplete on audio CD)
- "Very Good Advice"
- "Whom Did You Expect"
- "Painting the Roses Red/March of the Cards"
- "The Queen of Hearts/Who's Been Painting My Roses Red?"
- "A Little Girl/Let the Game Begin/I Warn You Child"
- "The Trial/The Unbirthday Song (Reprise)/Rule 42/Off with Her Head/The Caucus Race"
Media and merchandise 
Stage version 
Alice in Wonderland has been condensed into a one act stage version entitled, Alice and Wonderland, Jr.. The stage version is solely meant for middle and high school productions and includes the majority of the film's songs and others including Song of the South's "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", two new reprises of "I'm Late!", and three new numbers entitled "Ocean of Tears", "Simon Says", and "Who Are You?" respectively. This 60–80 minute version is owned by Music Theatre International in the Broadway, Jr. Collection along with other Disney Theatrical shows such as Disney's Aladdin, Jr., Disney's Mulan, Jr., Beauty and the Beast, Disney's High School Musical: On Stage!, Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida, and many more.
References in other Disney films 
In Donald in Mathmagic Land, Donald Duck wears Alice's dress and has her hairstyle but brown not blond. A larger pencil bird is in the film as well. Bill the Lizard appears as one of Professor Ratigan's henchmen in The Great Mouse Detective. Alice and several other characters from the film were featured as guests in House of Mouse, and the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts were two of the villains featured in Mickey's House of Villains. The Mad Hatter was also featured in Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare were also featured in several episodes of Bonkers. Bill the Lizard, Tweedledum, Cheshire Cat, the doorknob, and an orange-colored version of one of the bulb-horn birds also appear in the 1988 Disney film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. In the opening of Aladdin the peddler tries to sell a hookah much like the one the Caterpillar used. In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the Genie turns into the White Rabbit. In Darkwing Duck, there is a villain called Tuskernini, a character that resembles the walrus in some ways. Weebo shows clips of the movie on her screen in Flubber. An episode Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, entitled "Mickey's Adventures in Wonderland", is based on the film.
Theme parks 
Costumed versions of Alice, The Mad Hatter, The White Rabbit, The Queen of Hearts, Tweedledum and Tweedledee make regular appearances at the Disney theme parks and resorts, and other characters from the film (including the Walrus and the March Hare) have featured in the theme parks. More famously, all five Disneyland-style theme parks feature Mad Tea Party, a teacups ride based on Disney's adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
Alice in Wonderland is also frequently featured in many parades and shows in the Disney Theme Parks, including The Main Street Electrical Parade, SpectroMagic, Fantasmic!, Dreamlights, The Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party and Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams. Disneyland contains a dark ride based on the film in addition to the teacups, and Disneyland Paris also contains a hedge maze called Alice's Curious Labyrinth, which takes its inspiration from the film. The now-defunct Mickey Mouse Revue, shown at Walt Disney World and later at Tokyo Disneyland, contained characters and scenes from the film.
Video games 
A video game version of the film was released on Game Boy Color by Nintendo of America on October 4, 2000 in North America. Additionally, in the video games Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Wonderland is a playable world. Alice is also a major character in the overall plot of the first game due to her role as one of seven "Princesses of Heart". Other characters from the movie that appear include the Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Doorknob, the Caterpillar (V Cast only), and the Deck of Cards. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare appear in portrait form as well. All except the Doorknob also appear in Chain of Memories, albeit in the form of illusions made from the main character's memory. While the world is absent in Kingdom Hearts II, it returns in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts coded, the latter featuring a digitized version of the world originating from data in Jiminy Cricket's royal journal. In Disney's Villains' Revenge the Queen of Hearts is one of the villains who tries to turn the ending to her story to where she finally cuts off Alice's head. In Toy Story 3: The Video Game the Mad Hatter's hat is one of the hats you can have the townsfolk wear. Mickey Mousecapade features various characters from the film. The Japanese version, in fact, is based very heavily on the film, with almost every reference in the game coming from the film. Alice, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Queen of Hearts also make appearances in Kinect Disneyland Adventures.
- Magical Kingdoms
- Through the Keyhole: A Companion's Guide to Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Edition, 2011 Blu-Ray
- Barrier, Michael, 1999, Hollywood Cartons, Oxford University Press, United Kingdom
- Refections on Alice, Alice in Wonderland: 50th Universary Edition, 2005 DVD
- Gabler, Neal, 2006, Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination, Alfred A. Knoff, New York City, USA
- UltimateDisney.com's Interview with Lisa Davis, the voice and model for 101 Dalmatians' Anita Radcliff
- Deleted Scene: The Pig and Pepper, Alice in Wonderland, 2011 Blu-Ray
- Thomas, Bob (1976). Walt Disney: An American Original. New York: Hyperion Press. pp. 220–221. ISBN 0-7868-6027-8.
- "Alice in Wonderland: The Aftermath".[not in citation given]
- 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
- Maltin, Leonard (1973). The Disney Films. New York: Crown. p. 103. ISBN 0-7868-8527-0.
- Disney, Tim Burton & Linda Woolverton deliver an “Alice” for the ages
- "Official DVD website". Disney.Go.com. Archived from the original on July 25, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- Justin Sluss (July 28, 2010). "A Hi-Def sneak peek at Disney’s planned 2011 Blu-ray titles". highdefdiscnews.com. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
- "Alice in Wonderland Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- "Romanization". Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees
- AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
- "Walt Disney's Alice In Wonderland: Classic Soundtrack Series: Sammy Fain, Bob Hilliard". Amazon.com. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- "Disneyland's Mad Tea Party Page". Archived from the original on June 20, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- "Disneyland Paris' Alice's Curious Labyrinth Page". Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- "Kingdom Hearts Official Page". Retrieved July 13, 2010.
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- Alice in Wonderland at AllRovi
- Alice in Wonderland at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Alice in Wonderland at the Internet Movie Database
- Alice in Wonderland at Rotten Tomatoes