sunday-matineeDisney has made a lot of live-action variations of their hit animated movies over the last couple of years. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. This weekend, their sequel to the 2010 live-action Alice in Wonderland hit theatres with a thud.

Regardless of this film’s success (or lack of), Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s novels have been adapted close to 100 times. One interesting take was in 1933. That year, Paramount Studios was on the brink of bankruptcy, and the studio gambled on a live-action adaptation with all of their star actors and state-of-the-art (or at least 1933 state-of-the-art) make-up and special effects.

The result was fascinating.

Alice in WonderlandParamount’s Alice In Wonderland is a weird, trippy, surreal and sometimes horrifying — in other words, faithful — adaptation of Carroll’s books that bombed at the box office. Fortunately Paramount had two Mae West movies in theatres that year: She Done Him Wrong (1933) and I’m No Angel. Those two films saved the studio’s ass. Turns out sex sells better than an all-star cast hidden under a ton of make-up.

Still, the make-up and effects are impressive for 1933 and the movie is pretty entertaining even it’s downright bizarre at times. But then, that’s Alice in Wonderland.

The cast included stars like W. C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Edna May Oliver as the Red Queen, Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle, Gary Cooper as the White Knight, Edward Everett Horton as The Hatter, Charles Ruggles as The March Hare and Sterling Holloway as Frog. Charlotte Henry was Alice. The movie has barely been seen since its release — it makes appearances on TV every now and then and cam,e out on DVD in 2010.