A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Cat Classics on Film: Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Cat Classics on Film


Today’s Cat Classic is Disney’s animated version of Alice in Wonderland (1951), featuring, of course, the Cheshire Cat.

Alice in Wonderland (1951) The plot and the cat

Young Alice (voiced by Kathryn Beaumont) is a rather silly daydreamer whose imagination is so much more interesting than the boring old real world. One day while she’s supposed to be listening to a reading about history, Alice sees a well-dressed White Rabbit run by declaring he’s late for a very important date. She and her kitten, Dinah, ditch the lesson and follow the rabbit to the rabbit hole. Alice falls down a deep shaft, and her adventures begin. Along the way, she shrinks and grows and shrinks again, she meets some talking flowers, and of course (most relevant to our purposes) she meets the Cheshire Cat.

This grinning cat can disappear whenever he wants to. He can also remove his head from his body. He can stand on his head (and not the way you’ve seen human yoga enthusiasts do it). As he is portrayed in this film (voiced by Sterling Holloway), he is pink with purple stripes and bright yellow eyes. He is mischievous and not exactly trustworthy. He likes to sing lines from the poem “Jabberwocky.” This is a cat who likes to poke a stick at trouble (as long as it’s trouble for someone else) and see what happens. It’s the Cheshire Cat who sends Alice on a shortcut that puts her in the path of the Queen of Hearts, a maniac who enjoys removing people’s heads from their bodies (and not the way the Cat does it).


A little history

We knew virtually nothing about this film before writing this post, and we were surprised by many things we learned. For example, Walt Disney had first thought of casting Mary Pickford in a film combining live action and animation. But then came Paramount’s 1933 live-action Alice in Wonderland, and Disney had to rethink things. Later in the 1930s, a Disney storyboard artist and an art director started working out the story and look of the film, but the boss wasn’t satisfied with the results. Then World War II intervened, and serious work didn’t resume on Alice until 1947, when Aldous Huxley (he of Brave New World fame) was hired to write a new script. But still Disney wasn’t satisfied, so the script was rewritten yet again.


But, even after all that work, Disney was said to be disappointed with the final film.

The Cheshire Cat as depicted in Disney's 1951 "Alice in Wonderland"Our verdict

Somehow, old SoLT had lived nearly 50 years without ever seeing Alice in Wonderland—in fact, without reading the books it’s based on or seeing any other film adaptation of the story. This is another film the way they used to make them—only about an hour and a quarter long. But still, old SoLT managed to fall asleep during it. We think we can see why Disney wasn’t totally pleased with Alice.

There are a lot of characters, and while the non-computer-generated animation is a joy to watch, the story isn’t as cohesive as we would have liked. The end seemed abrupt to us—we were just suddenly at the “happily ever after” part (yes, even after we went back to watch the part someone slept through). Maybe 75 minutes isn’t long enough to tell this story, or maybe they could have done with fewer characters and created a tighter, more engrossing adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s work. And honestly, Alice mostly got on our nerves. She was over-the-top silly for much of the movie, and it would have been nice to see some more depth to her character.

Still and all, we can’t say we didn’t like this film. We have already mentioned the animation, which is filled with bright, bold colors. There are moments of humor, as when Alice suddenly grows and gets stuck in the White Rabbit’s house. The Queen of Hearts is insane in a horribly entertaining way.  Of course we love the Cheshire Cat character, with his wacky but dark nature. And let's not forget the cute kitten Dinah!

Alice in Wonderland (1951)


A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good movie; two paws is for a great movie. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase anything through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!


Sources

“Alice in Wonderland (1951),” IMDb, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043274/?ref_=ttawd_awd_tt

“Alice in Wonderland (1951),” Cinema Cats, http://www.cinemacats.com/?p=8586


“About Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ 1951 Cartoon Movie,” Alice-in-wonderland.net, http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/resources/background/disneys-cartoon-movie/.

8 comments:

  1. Oh this is my favorite of Holloway's voice acting rolls, I think he was enjoying himself by his tone. It is rushed as it squoze chunks of Through the Looking Glass into the Wonderland story.

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  2. If I've ever read the actual book, I certainly do NOT remember. Am sure I've seen this movie, but a bazillion years ago. I prefer the episode of Star Trek, that includes Alice, the rabbit, and a few other fantasy characters...Doctor McCoy ends up with a couple of showgirls...LOL!

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    1. I'll have to look up that Star Trek episode. I don't remember it at all!

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  3. I have always loved this film and have watched it many times.
    Yael from PlayingInCatnip.com

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  4. I LOVED the book as a child, and I read Through the Looking Glass too. I was so very disappointed when I saw the Disney version when I was a child and I did not want to go and see any of his other cartoonification of the classic fairy tales. I have to agree...my favorite of all that I've seen is the Star Trek version!
    Purrs
    Marv and Barb

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  5. I have never seen this version. I liked the Johnny Depp one though :)

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  6. I have a fun Alice in Wonderland story! When I was a little girl my parents took me to a kids park with a mock-up of the rabbit hole. I was afraid if I went in the right way I would shrink, so I made my parents take me in backwards. Needless to say, we got some strange looks ;)

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  7. My Paul is a member of the Lewis Caroll Society in England, I am sure they watch this movie with bemusement. I have not seen this but I have seen Beauty and the Beat (Disney real and animated) and prefer the animated one. OK Now you reviewed it I am going to have to watch it!!!

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