Cast & Crew
During her sister's history lesson, young Alice plays with her kitten, Dinah, and dreams of living in her own world, in which nonsense would reign. Soon after, she spots a White Rabbit dressed in a vest and carrying a clock, who is frantically declaring that he is late. Intrigued, Alice follows him into a cave, falling into a seemingly bottomless hole. After passing several floating pieces of furniture, Alice finally lands safely and follows the rabbit through a series of rooms, until she reaches a door so small she cannot fit through it. She tries the doorknob, which complains at being twisted and suggests that she drink from a bottle that sits on a table, bearing the tag "Drink Me." Alice does so, and with each distinctly flavored sip, shrinks smaller and smaller. She is now the correct size to fit through the door, but is no longer large enough to reach the key, which sits on the table. The doorknob urges her to eat from a box of crackers labeled "Eat Me," but after she does, she grows to gargantuan proportions. Despairing, Alice cries huge tears that flood the room, and stops only when the Drink Me bottle floats by. She drinks, becomes smaller and swims through the doorknob keyhole into the world beyond. There, she follows a parade of creatures running in a circle around a Dodo bird, who calls their activity "a caucus race." Exasperated, Alice moves on when she spots the Rabbit, chasing him into a forest. Two identical creatures, named Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, slow her process by singing gibberish songs and relating the tale of a Walrus who infuriated a Carpenter by eating all the oysters they invited to dinner. Alice sneaks off in the middle of a song, finally locating the Rabbit in his little house. The Rabbit calls her "Mary Anne" and insists that she recover his lost gloves, and while searching for them, Alice discovers more "Eat Me" biscuits. Upon nibbling one, she grows until she fills the whole house. Certain that a monster has invaded, the Rabbit urges the passing Dodo to help exorcise her, and the Dodo devises a plan to set the house on fire. Alice fears for her life until she manages to pull a carrot from the garden, and after eating it, shrinks to three inches. She scurries off into a bed of flowers, who at first welcome her with a song but then, deciding she is a weed, shoo her away. Alice then wanders upon a Caterpillar, sitting on a mushroom and smoking a hookah. After enduring an elocution lesson, Alice unintentionally insults the Caterpillar by wishing to be taller, and before scurrying off, he informs her that one side of the mushroom will make her taller, the other smaller. By experimenting with pieces of the mushroom, Alice regains her proper size. Soon, she meets a grin that eventually materializes into a Cheshire Cat, who mischievously directs her to a nearby tea party. There, the Mad Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse are celebrating their "unbirthdays." When Alice joins them, they are at first nonplussed but then welcome her, confusing her with their insistence that she continually switch chairs just as she is about to drink her tea. They ask her about her past, but when she mentions Dinah, the Dormouse panics, disrupting them further. The Rabbit then arrives, still concerned that he is late, and the Mad Hatter attempts to "fix" his clock by applying butter and jam to it. When the Rabbit leaves, Alice follows him into Tulgey Wood, where the animals all resemble musical instruments and a group of creatures called Mome Raths direct her to a path. The path is soon swept up by a dog-like animal, however, and a homesick Alice inspires the nearby birds to weep for her despair. Just then, the Cheshire Cat returns to point out a door in a tree trunk that leads into a garden maze. Alice wanders the maze until she comes upon three playing cards painting roses for the Queen of Hearts, a volatile ruler who likes to order beheadings. The Queen soon arrives with her army of cards, and after sentencing the painters to death, invites Alice to play croquet. Even though the elaborate game, which uses flamingos for mallets and hedgehogs for balls, is fixed to ensure the Queen will always win, the Queen grows angry after the Cheshire Cat causes her to pull her dress over her head. She blames Alice, ordering her head to be cut off, until the diminutive King suggests a trial. The Queen governs the nonsensical trial, which Alice puts a stop to by eating some mushroom and growing colossally. The Queen is frightened until Alice accidentally shrinks herself again, and in renewed danger, flees through the maze. After passing each creature she has met during her strange trip, Alice finally spots the doorknob again. Although it remains locked, she peers through the keyhole and, upon seeing herself sleeping on the other side, calls to herself to wake up. When Alice awakens, her sister, exasperated with the young girl's absentmindedness, brings her home.
Don Da Gradi
Gene De Paul
W. Cabell Greet
A. Kendall O'connor
C. O. Slyfield
Harold J. Steck
Best Music Original Dramatic Score
Frank Thomas (1912-2004)
He was born on September 5, 1912 in Santa Monica, California. He showed an interest in art and drawing at a very young age, so it came as no surprise when he graduated from Stanford University in 1934 with a degree in art. Soon after, he began work for Walt Disney Studios and did his first animation for the short Mickey's Elephant in 1936, and was one of the key animators for the studios' first, feature-length animated picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). His memorable creations of the seven dwarfs offered an emotional sweep and humorous detail to animated characters that audiences had never experienced before, and his career was set.
Thomas' work from this point on would be nothing short of the high watermarks in Disney animation that is justly cherished the world over: the title character in Pinocchio, (1940); Thumper teaching Bambi to skate in Bambi (1941); the wicked stepmother in Cinderella (1950), the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (1951), the terrific fight sequence between Captain Hook and Peter Pan in Peter Pan (1953); the Lady and Rover falling in love over a dish of spaghetti and meatballs in Lady and the Tramp (1955); the three good fairies in Sleeping Beauty (1959); Baloo, Mowgli and Kaa in The Jungle Book (1967); and his final work of Bernard and Bianca in the underrated The Rescuers (1977).
Thomas retired from Disney in early 1978, ending a near 44-year relationship with the studio. With longtime friend, and fellow Disney collaborator Ollie Johnston, they went on to author many fine books about the art of animation, most notably Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life (Hyperian Press, 1978) and The Disney Villain (Hyperion Press, 1993). He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jeanette; sons Thomas, Doug and Gregg; daughter Ann Ayers; and three grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Frank Thomas (1912-2004)
Oh, by the way, if you'd really like to know, he went that way.- Cheshire Cat
Who did?- Alice
The White Rabbit.- Cheshire Cat
He did?- Alice
He did what?- Cheshire Cat
Well, after this I should think nothing of falling down stairs.- Alice
I'm late / I'm late / For a very important date. / No time to say "Hello." / Goodbye. / I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.- White Rabbit, Dodo
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?- Alice
What kind of a garden do you come from?- Daisy
Oh, I don't come from any garden.- Alice
Do you think she's a wildflower?- Daisy
Color screen tests of Mary Pickford as Alice were made for a proposed live-action/animation version of the story.
Kathryn Beaumont, who was the voice of Alice, narrates the "Alice in Wonderland" ride at Disneyland.
Sterling Holloway, who performed the voice of the Cheshire Cat, played the Frog in the 1933 version of Alice in Wonderland (1933)
The first Disney animated film to have ending credits - a feature not repeated until Black Cauldron, The (1985) .
The movie took five years to complete.
The opening title credits read: "Alice in Wonderland, an adaptation of Lewis Carrol's [sic] The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass." The cast credits begin with the statement: "With the talents of." Although Kathy Beaumont's credit reads "and introducing," she had previously appeared in the 1948 M-G-M production On an Island with You (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).
Lewis Carroll was the pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898), who was ordained as a church deacon in 1861. On an 1862 boat trip with the three young daughters of Henry Liddell, dean of Christ Church College at Oxford, Carroll first created the "Alice" stories, inspired by Liddell's daughter Alice, and finally published them as his first novel three years later. He hired John Tenniel to illustrate the book, and although Tenniel was unsatisfied with the first printing of the illustrations, a second edition was published one month after the first. Modern sources suggest that Mrs. Liddell grew concerned about Carroll's interest in her daughters, whom he used as models for his photography hobby, and so cut severed the relationship between Alice and the author. He published a sequel, Through the Looking Glass, in 1870.
Beginning in 1923, Walt Disney produced a series of shorts starring the character of "Alice," that mixed animation with live action. According to news items in Motion Picture Daily, Disney began considering translating Carroll's classic for the screen in 1933, as a partly animated, partly live-action film to star former silent star Mary Pickford. As noted in a Los Angeles Times article, it was not until August 1947 that Disney was able to purchase the screen rights to both novels, which were previously owned by Paramount. At that time, he also bought from Paramount a libretto by Henry Savile Clarke and music by Walter Slaughter for possible use in the film, as well as obtaining a long-term extension to the rights to Tenniel's illustrations. According to a February 6, 1949 New York Herald Tribune news item, Disney planned to "follow the general outline" of the Tenniel illustrations; however, the final images in the film are not very similar to the originals.
Modern sources state that in 1938 Disney hired artist David Hall to interpret the story graphically, but on May 15, 1942 Hollywood Reporter reported that the film, which was still in the "exploratory stages of preparation," would be shelved in order to devote production efforts exclusively to war cartoons for the U.S. government. By June 1945, according to a Hollywood Reporter article, Disney renewed work on the film with Walter Gunzberg as the writer and, as noted in modern sources, Ginger Rogers as the star. While a May 6, 1949 Daily Variety item stated that Ilene Woods would voice Alice, Los Angeles Times announced in November 1945 that Luana Patten would play Alice in the film, which was to be written by Aldous Huxley and finished by 1948. On July 7, 1947, Hollywood Citizen-News stated that Disney planned to translate the final film into ten languages and have premieres in "all major capitals of the world" in 1950. A July 13, 1947 New York Times article estimated the budget at $3.5 million; the final budget was $5 million. A June 5, 1949 Los Angeles Times article noted that Keenan Wynn would play "The March Hare" and that Disney had been waiting for Margaret O'Brien to become available to play Alice. On June 9, 1949, however, Los Angeles Times reported that O'Brien had turned down the role. A May 1954 Cosmopolitan article declared that Beaumont won the role of Alice because the twelve-year-old "had a British accent that wasn't too British."
Although sources vary as to exact dates, production lasted for about five years. On April 8, 1948, Hollywood Reporter noted that production was still "in full swing," while a September 10, 1949 Los Angeles Herald Express article stated that the film was "in an accelerated stage of production," and on May 8, 1951 a Hollywood Reporter news item described the film as "nearing completion." While some 1945 sources announced that the film would be fully animated, other later sources, including a March 15, 1949 Los Angeles Mirror article, asserted that it would mix animation and live action. As noted in a January 14, 1951 Life article, Disney spent two years during preproduction creating a "working model" of the script, or a live-action version that starred the voice actors and was used by the illustrators as a model of the images and actions. The working model, shot in 16mm, cost almost $250,000. According to the Life piece, it was destroyed after being used by the artists and only candid photographs still exist.
Although Disney's first weekly television series, Disneyland, did not begin until October 1954, the studio aired their first television special entitled "One Hour in Wonderland" on December 25, 1950 specifically to promote Alice in Wonderland. According to modern sources, the broadcast attracted twenty million viewers, and convinced the studio of television's marketing powers.
Days before the premiere of the film, distributor Souvaine Selective Films scheduled the New York opening of French filmmaker Lou Bunin's Alice in Wonderland, a feature-length, puppet version of Carroll's classic. According to a July 16, 1951 Time article, Disney and RKO responded by suing to restrain Bunin's film, but on July 12, 1951, Hollywood Reporter reported that a judge denied the injunction, ruling that "this sort of competition should be encouraged rather than suppressed." Soon after, Disney changed its New York premiere date to July 26, 1951, the same day as Bunin's film, but later settled for a July 28, 1951 opening. Bunin's film performed poorly at the box office, and Hollywood Reporter reported on August 2, 1951 that his film was closing after two weeks. Disney sued Bunin again to restrict further distribution, but Daily Variety reported on December 7, 1951 that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had denied a restraining order.
According to a April 21, 1974 New York Times article, Disney, who died in 1966, asserted that he disliked Alice in Wonderland, which he felt lacked warmth and humor. Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a version of the film on December 24, 1951, in which most of the film's cast reprised their roles. Despite earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Scoring Musical Picture (Oliver Wallace), the film was a box-office failure and within three years of its theatrical release was broadcast on the Disneyland television program. Alice in Wonderland gained popularity in the 1960s, however, when its psychedelia and suggestions of drug-taking appealed to contemporary college students, and Buena Vista re-released it theatrically in 1974.
Other films based on Lewis Carroll's novel include a 1910 version entitled Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, made by Thomas A. Edison Inc. (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20); a 1933 Paramount production directed by Norman McLeod (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40); a 1935 British film of the same title released by Kinematrade, Inc.; and a 1972 film entitled Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, directed by William Sterling and starring Fiona Fullerton. In 1990 Woody Allen directed Alice, starring Mia Farrow, which loosely embodies the spirit of Carroll's novel. Dreamchild, a 1985 British film directed by Gavin Millar and starring Coral Browne and Ian Holm, explored the relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell.