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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 MPD , 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 LAT article, it was not until Aug 1947 ... More Less

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 MPD , 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 LAT article, it was not until Aug 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 6 Feb 1949 NYHT 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 15 May 1942 HR 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 Jun 1945, according to a HR 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 6 May 1949 DV item stated that Ilene Woods would voice Alice, LAT announced in Nov 1945 that Luana Patten would play Alice in the film, which was to be written by Aldous Huxley and finished by 1948. On 7 Jul 1947, HCN 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 13 Jul 1947 NYT article estimated the budget at $3.5 million; the final budget was $5 million. A 5 Jun 1949 LAT 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 9 Jun 1949, however, LAT 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 8 Apr 1948, HR noted that production was still “in full swing,” while a 10 Sep 1949 LAHE article stated that the film was “in an accelerated stage of production,” and on 8 May 1951 a HR 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 15 Mar 1949 LAMirror article, asserted that it would mix animation and live action. As noted in a 14 Jan 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 Oct 1954, the studio aired their first television special entitled “One Hour in Wonderland” on 25 Dec 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 16 Jul 1951 Time article, Disney and RKO responded by suing to restrain Bunin’s film, but on 12 Jul 1951, HR 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 26 Jul 1951, the same day as Bunin’s film, but later settled for a 28 Jul 1951 opening. Bunin’s film performed poorly at the box office, and HR reported on 2 Aug 1951 that his film was closing after two weeks. Disney sued Bunin again to restrict further distribution, but DV reported on 7 Dec 1951 that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had denied a restraining order.
       According to a 21 Apr 1974 NYT 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 24 Dec 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. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Jul 1951.
---
Cosmopolitan
May 1954.
---
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1947
p. 1, 3.
Daily Variety
3 Jul 1947.
---
Daily Variety
6 May 1949.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jul 51
p. 3.
Daily Variety
3 Jul 1951.
---
Daily Variety
12 Jul 1951.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1951.
---
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1951.
---
Daily Variety
23 Oct 1973.
---
Film Daily
2 Jul 51
p. 6.
Glendale News-Press
26 Sep 1947.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
7 Jul 1947.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 1942
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 1942
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 1945
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1948
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 1951
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 1951
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 1951
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1951
p. 2, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 1981.
---
Life
14 Jan 1951.
---
Los Angeles Herald Express
10 Sep 1949.
---
Los Angeles Mirror
15 Mar 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Jul 1944.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Nov 1945.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Aug 1947
part II, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
5 Jun 1949
pt. IV, p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times
6 Jun 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Sep 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Jan 1951
magazine section, pp. 8-9.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
7 Jul 51
p. 921.
New York Herald Tribune
6 Feb 1949.
---
New York Times
13 Jul 1947.
---
New York Times
28 Jul 51
p. 7.
New York Times
30 Jul 51
p. 12.
New York Times
21 Apr 1974
p. 1, 11.
Picturegoer and Film Weekly
24 Jun 1950.
---
Time
16 Jul 1951.
---
Variety
4 Jul 51
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Walt Disney Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCERS
Prod supv
WRITERS
Story
Story
Story
Story
Story
Story
Story
Story
Story
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus score
Vocal arr
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec processes
PRODUCTION MISC
Phonetics consultant
ANIMATION
Col and styling
Col and styling
Col and styling
Col and styling
Col and styling
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Dir anim
Dir anim
Dir anim
Dir anim
Dir anim
Dir anim
Dir anim
Dir anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (London, 1865) and the novel Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (London, 1870).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Unbirthday Song," words and music by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston
"'Twas Brillig," words and music by Don Raye and Gene De Paul
"Alice in Wonderland," "All in a Golden Afternoon," "I'm Late," "In a World of My Own," "Very Good Advice," "The Caucus Race," "Painting the Roses Red," "The Walrus and the Carpenter" and "March of the Cards," words and music by Sammy Fain and Bob Hilliard
+
SONGS
"Unbirthday Song," words and music by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston
"'Twas Brillig," words and music by Don Raye and Gene De Paul
"Alice in Wonderland," "All in a Golden Afternoon," "I'm Late," "In a World of My Own," "Very Good Advice," "The Caucus Race," "Painting the Roses Red," "The Walrus and the Carpenter" and "March of the Cards," words and music by Sammy Fain and Bob Hilliard
"We'll Smoke the Blighter Out," "Old Father William" and "AEIOU," words and music by Oliver Wallace and Ted Sears.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 July 1951
Premiere Information:
World premiere in London, England: 26 July 1951
New York opening: 28 July 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
4 May 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1477
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Animation
Duration(in mins):
74-76
Length(in feet):
6,965
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15112
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.