Alice in Wonderland (1985 film)

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Alice in Wonderland
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Alice in wondrl.jpg
The DVD cover
Directed by Harry Harris
Produced by Irwin Allen
Written by Lewis Carroll
Paul Zindel
Based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass 
by Lewis Carroll
Starring Natalie Gregory
Red Buttons
Anthony Newley
Jayne Meadows
Carol Channing
Roddy McDowall
Ann Jillian
Robert Morley
Music by Stephen Deutsch
Morton Stevens
Steve Allen (lyrics and original piano scores)
Cinematography Fred J. Koenekamp
Edited by Richard E. Rabjohn
Distributed by Irwin Allen Productions
/Columbia Pictures Television
Release dates December 9-December 10, 1985
Running time 187 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Alice in Wonderland (1985) is a two-part film adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice books. An Irwin Allen production, it was a special made for television and used a huge all-star cast of notable actors and actresses. The title role was played by Natalie Gregory, who wore a blonde wig for this miniseries. Alice in Wonderland was first telecast December 9, 1985, (part one) and December 10, 1985 (part two), at 8:00pm EST on CBS.

It was filmed in Los Angeles at the MGM Studios (now known as Sony Pictures Studios) in Culver City over a 55-day period from March 12, 1985 to May 28 of that same year. Additional filming took place at Malibu Beach for the oysters scene, and establishing shots of Alice's house took place at the S. S. Hinds Estate, also in the Los Angeles area.[1]


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland[edit]

The first part opens with Alice (Natalie Gregory) helping Mother set the table for tea time. Although thankful for her daughter's help, Mother tells Alice that she is still not grown-up enough to join the adults at tea. Alice goes outside to see her sister (played by Gregory's real-life older sister Sharee Gregory), but gets bored of reading a book with no pictures. Her sister tells her that she will understand when she grows up, but Alice thinks she is already grown up (after all, she's seven and a half). While playing with her kitten, Dinah, the White Rabbit comes running by, saying he's late. Wondering where he is going, Alice follows him and tumbles into his rabbit hole. (Unlike the book and most movie versions, this rabbit hole appears to be dark and spooky.)

Alice finds herself in a hall with many doors, and all of them locked. On a table is a key which Alice can use to open one small door. Yet the door is far too small to even fit her head in. A small bottle appears labeled "Drink Me.", she comes back to the table and puts it to her lips. Doing this, she shrinks to the right size for the door, but can no longer reach the key to open it. She then sees a small box which she opens and finds a little cake with the words "Eat Me," on it. Doing this, she grows to over nine feet tall. Frustrated with the thought of being stuck nine feet tall she begins to cry, her tears fall on the floor and flow under the cracks. The White Rabbit appears, but frightened of the giant Alice then runs away dropping his fan and gloves. Using the fan makes Alice shrink again to a size small enough to crawl into one of the cracks, which takes her diving in her pool of tears.

While swimming in the pool of tears, she meets the Mouse (Sherman Hemsley), who tells her why he hates cats and dogs. Alice later catches up with the White Rabbit and, in his house, curiously she finds another "drink me" bottle and chances it growing her full 9 foot character once again. Angry at Alice, the rabbit and his friend Pat the Pig (Scott Baio) try to employ Bill the Lizard (Ernie Orsatti) to remove Alice. Having tried unsuccessfully the White Rabbit and Pat begin throwing berries at her which turn into cakes that causes her to shrink back to size. After running away she meets the Caterpillar (Sammy Davis, Jr.), and then goes to the house of The Duchess. Finding the house too violent and hateful, she takes the Duchess' baby away, but then turns into a pig. She meets the Cheshire Cat (Telly Savalas), who gives her directions to see either the March Hare or the Mad Hatter, but warns Alice that they, along with everyone else, are mad. Alice visits the garden of the Queen of Hearts (Jayne Meadows), who always yells "Off with her Head!" and plays croquet, or at least watches the others play. She leaves to visit the Gryphon (Sid Caesar) as well as the Mock Turtle (Ringo Starr), but then she is called to attend a trial.

The trial deals with the Knave of Hearts, who is accused of having stolen The Queen's tarts. There is no proof that he did it, but again there is no proof that he did not do it, nor is there proof that anybody did it, which proves him guilty, according to the Queen. Alice argues with the ways of the court, but inexplicably begins to grow larger again. Alice continues to argue with the Queen and even though she tells her to hold her tongue Alice refuses and tells the Queen to hold hers. The Queen becoming angry, yells "Off with her Head!" and has the guards chase the giant Alice, who is hardly afraid of them as "they're nothing but a pack of cards". Alice keeps running until she trips and falls and finds herself back home, in her normal size.

She runs happily back home, but finds that nobody is there. Hearing her cat Dinah she sees her on the other side of the mirror, along with her parents, who can only see their own reflection, and can't see or hear their daughter. Alice doesn't know how to get through to the other side so she sits at a nearby chair, and notices a strange book next to her and starts reading it. There is a poem called Jabberwocky about a scary monster. Trying to deny her fears, she gets very scared as the room becomes dark and the Jabberwock appears in the house.

This marks the end of the first part.

Through the Looking Glass[edit]

The second part opens with Alice at home trapped behind the living-room mirror and invisible to her parents. The Owl (Jack Warden) explains that until she overcomes her fear of growing up, she will be unable to return to the real world and remain stuck in Looking-Glass World, where everything is the reverse of what she expected.

As the Jabberwock scares Alice and she wishes it away, it disappears. Yet, she is informed by The Owl in a painting that it may come back any time and reveals to her that it is a creation of Alice's own fears.

After an interesting conversation with talking flowers, Alice meets The Red Queen, who tells her to take the place of one of the pawns/children of The White Queen on the chess board. Alice plays a pawn, but finds herself now on the second square, from where she must reach the eighth square to become a queen. The Red Queen tells her that only if she becomes a queen she may go home.

On the way to the eighth square, Alice meets many various characters and visits many places. She goes on a train that doesn't stop, sitting next to with The Goat, and opposite The Gentleman in the Paper Suit (Steve Allen), and The Horse (Pat Morita). The passengers opposite her twit her with silly (original) dialogue, e.g., sending her back as luggage, or ahead as a telegraphic message. Miffed by all this teasing, she calls the goat a silly billy, getting a Japanese-accented horse laugh from Pat Morita's character.

She meets The Gnat king, as well as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, who sing (and dance) about shaking hands and then sing the story of "The Walrus and the Carpenter". She bumps into The White Queen, who sings of the logic of "Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never ever jam today" as a consequence of living backwards and ends up turning herself into a sheep. She is then chased by a giant bird, which she initially thought was the Jabberwocky, and meets Humpty Dumpty. The Jabberwocky appears again, and Alice flees when it pursues her after knocking Humpty Dumpty off a wall. Alice then meets The White King and his Messenger, who bring Alice to see the Lion and the Unicorn, who are fighting for the crown. The combatants call a temporary truce and are intrigued by Alice, whom they perceive as a "fabulous monster". Alice then hands out a tray of cake, but every times she cuts it in half, it turns itself into a whole cake again! She flees the group after a deafening barrage of drums begins to play, which she is apparently the only one to hear. Thereafter, she meets The White Knight, who sings and dances with her. Finally, Alice reaches the eighth square and finds her way to her castle, where a great feast in her honor takes place, with many of the characters she met previously on her journey.

Alice appreciates the feast but tells everybody that what she really wants is to go home. A present is then brought to her, out of which comes The Jabberwock. The beast starts frightening and terrorizing everyone in the castle. The White Knight tries to rescue Alice, but fails. Alice manages to find her way back to the mirror and into her home, where she gets to confront The Jabberwock. Telling him that he is just in her imagination and that she does not believe in him, he finally disappears. After this, Mother walks in and tells her daughter that she is finally old enough to join the grown-ups at tea time. Alice then sees the Wonderland characters in the mirror, and they sing farewell to her. Tearfully, Alice waves them goodbye as the movie ends.



The miniseries was a modest success during its original airing. Out of 71 shows, part 1 ranked at 13, and came in at 21.2 points out of a 31 point share. Part 2 ranked at 35, and came in at 16.8 points out of a 25 point share. In total, the miniseries averaged 19 points out of a 28 point share. Part 1 won easily from 8-9 P.M. opposite Hardcastle and McCormick on ABC, and TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes on NBC. From 9-9:30 p.m., part 1 was 0.6 points ahead of Monday Night Football on ABC.[2]

Video release[edit]

The film was first released on VHS by Warner Home Video in 1986. It was reissued again in 1996, but in the case of the latter, both parts were released separately in slightly re-edited form. Part One ended with an onscreen quote from the final chapter of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as Alice ran happily towards her house, rather than the original cliffhanger. Part Two began with a "prologue" of sorts (the final minutes of Part One) and was retitled Alice Through the Looking Glass for release.

Sony Pictures Entertainment released the film on DVD in 2006, with both parts restored to how they originally aired on TV.


  1. ^ "The "Beaches" Mansion". Iamnotastalker. Retrieved 2012-06-23. 
  2. ^ "Broadcasting Magazine Library: Read and search 3000 issues from 1931 to 1991". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 

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