7.9/10
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2 user 1 critic

The Alphabet Conspiracy (1959)

A little girl, frustrated by her inability to deal with her English homework, dreams that the Mad Hatter and the Jabberwock, both characters from "Alice in Wonderland", have hatched a conspiracy to abolish the alphabet.
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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Stanley Adams ... Theatrical Agent
Frank Baxter Frank Baxter ... Dr. Linguistics
Cheryl Callaway Cheryl Callaway ... Judy
Hans Conried ... Mad Hatter
Cactus Mack
Shorty Rogers ... Cowboy
Dolores Starr Dolores Starr ... Jabberwock
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Storyline

A little girl, frustrated by her inability to deal with her English homework, dreams that the Mad Hatter and the Jabberwock, both characters from "Alice in Wonderland", have hatched a conspiracy to abolish the alphabet.

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Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 January 1959 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

References Fantasia (1940) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Over-the-top, but highly entertaining, Bell Science installment
1 April 2010 | by jlewis77-1See all my reviews

The Bell Science TV specials that feature Frank Baxter as "Mr. Research" have certainly etched themselves in a great many Baby Boomer and Generation Xer minds, being a regular part of the US public (and private) school curriculum well into the 1980s. To the cinema enthusiast, they have plenty of interesting credits and can conveniently be split into two "phases". The first four were produced and directed by Frank Capra on a somewhat modest scale, with just an "imagination screen" where most of the action takes place, and are a trifle more preachy and "religious" in tone. The later four came from Warner Bros. (with its in-house animators and directors like Owen Crump) and, despite their more straight-forward and "secular" approach, boast over-the-top art direction and production sets that only a major Burbank studio can provide.

It is obvious which batch THE ALPHABET CONSPIRACY belongs to. Frank Baxter, the ever smiling bald host, takes homework-ridden Judy into a dream-like fantasy-land full of over-sized books and assorted props that the WB set department must have loved working on. Hans Conried provides high comedy as the Mad Hatter in a spoof of Lewis Carroll, as he attempts to destroy the alphabet and "words" in general. (Both he and Frank Baxter were veteran voices of "old time" radio: check out "CBS Radio Workshop: Joe Miller's Joke Book" from 11/4/56 for a half-hour program which sounds just like an "audio" Bell Science show.) What results is a history and study of human speech and dialect, starting with baby talk and including such novelty subjects as whistling calls in the Canary Islands. Great use of Warner's stock footage (from its many live-action short subjects in addition to outside sources) and funny animation from the Friz Freleng unit (done in between Bugs Bunny cartoons) adds to the light-hearted lecturing.

What makes all of these shows so endearing is Baxter's enthusiasm for the material he presents, as well as his attempts to "fit in" with the current generation. Case in point is his hilarious attempts to speak "beat jive" to Shorty Rogers, the jazzy "dig it" hip-cat. (We could easily picture him attempting hip-hop lingo had this been made in the eighties.) Most importantly, he never talks down to his audience, but "shares" with them the Big Bright Wonderful World he's exploring.

Fans of this series often have mixed opinions of THE ALPHABET CONSPIRACY, because it is the most over-produced of the bunch, with the material being a bit too "sugar-coated" and less "in-depth" than the others. Apparently there was some criticism back in 1959, since the following production THREAD OF LIFE was made in a much more low-key manner (with people on TV monitors conversing with Baxter). THAT one proved too "dry", so they returned to the Over-The-Top treatment (but with some moderation) in ABOUT TIME.


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