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Alice in Wonderland (1931)

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Title: Alice in Wonderland (1931)

Alice in Wonderland (1931) on IMDb 6.3/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Ruth Gilbert ...
Ralph Hertz ...
Lillian Ardell ...
Mabel Wright ...
Tom Corless ...
Leslie King ...
Meyer Berensen ...
Raymond Schultz ...
Jimmy Rosen ...
Vie Quinn ...
N.R. Cregan ...
Patrick Glasgow ...
Gus Alexander ...
Charles Silvern ...
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Pat Gleason ...
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30 September 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alicja w krainie czarów  »

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1.37 : 1
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Version of Alice (1988) See more »

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Alice In Wonderland
by Irving Berlin
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Curiouser Curiosity
20 March 2011 | by (Arlington, Virginia, USA) – See all my reviews

The first "talking" movie version of "Alice in Wonderland," produced in Fort Lee, New Jersey, in 1931, two years before Paramount's all-star production. Ruth Gilbert stars as Lewis Carroll's heroine in this black and white featurette (running under an hour) directed by Bud Pollard.

I'd been casually searching for a copy for years, and finally managed to get ahold of a DVD copy of a pretty battered 16mm print.

Well. It's about what you'd expect for a 1931 talkie -- a creaky curiosity of a film with overly broad acting, awkward pauses, rudimentary costumes and sets and a primitive-sounding soundtrack.

I have a hard time imagining that anyone enjoyed watching this, even in 1931; it comes across as little more than a filmed community theater production of "Alice" without any real sense of Carroll's wit or whimsy. (Then again, that's how I also feel about the 1933 movie starring Charlotte Henry, despite its higher production values.) The climactic trial of the Knave of Hearts does boast a decidedly shocking twist not found in the book that probably had Lewis Carroll turning in his grave.

A heavily made-up Ruth Gilbert was about 18 when she played Alice; a little of her "little girl" routine goes a long way. Now and then she tries to affect what may have been a trans-Atlantic accent, but most of the time she carries on like a Broadway chorine. (When confronted by the other characters toward the end, this all-too-American Alice yells at them, "Come on, all of you! Who's afraid of a paltry pack of cards!")

Still, despite its shortcomings, this film remains interesting from a historical perspective, not only as the first sound "Alice," but also as a reminder of Fort Lee's prominent place in early film history.


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