Lewis Carroll‘s stories have inspired filmmakers since the dawn of cinema, spawning numerous adaptations of the original stories, not to mention a swarm of works based on and inspired by the characters and world of Wonderland (IMDB lists 100 titles featuring Alice based characters, not counting video games). This article won’t attempt to cover them all, but will touch on the most influental of these films.
Alice first stepped onto silver screen in 1903, portrayed by May Clark in Alice in Wonderland. The 8 minute silent film was written and directed by Cecil M. Hepworth, who played the Frog Footman in the film, and whose wife played both the Queen of Hearts & the White Rabbit.
In 1923, Walt Disney directed and starred in Alice’s Wonderland, a short cartoon based on Alice In Wonderland in which Alice, played by Virginia Davis, visits an animation studio where she is shown various cartoon scenes. Later that night, she visits a cartoon wonderland in her dreams. This short was the first of Walt Disney‘s famous Alice Comedies, series of animated cartoons created by Walt Disney in the 1920s, in which a live action little girl named Alice and an animated cat named Julius (who bears a striking resemblance to Felix the Cat) have adventures in an animated landscape. Click the image below to watch Alice’s Wonderland on YouTube.
In 1931, Alice found her voice in cinema history’s first talkie version of Alice in Wonderland, directed by Bud Pollard & featuring dialogue written by Ashley Ayer Miller. Alice was played by actress Ruth Gilbert.
Christmas of 1933 saw Charlotte Henry play Alice in this rendition directed by Norman Z. McLeod. This version also featured many elements from Through The Looking Glass & featured Hollywood legends W.C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Cary Grant as The Mock Turtle, and Gary Cooper as The White Knight. It also contains an animated version of The Walrus and the Carpenter by cartoon legend Max Fleischer. You can watch the entire film on YouTube.
Speaking of Max Fleischer, Betty Boop stepped through the looking glass in the 1934 animation Betty in Blunderland. In the cartoon, Betty falls asleep while doing a white rabbit jigsaw puzzle and “awakens” just in time to follow the rabbit into Wonderland.
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