22. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
The same directors of Peter Pan had worked together on Alice in Wonderland, released two years prior. With Alice, the trio made a film that perfected vibrancy, perfected its use of songs and had a storytelling element of nonsense that elevated above others. Unlike the all over the place nature in The Jungle Book years down the line, it makes sense for this tale. The story is carefully crafted in the wonderful imagery created due in part to famed animation artist Mary Blair. She did work on this film, Peter Pan and Cinderella, but Alice is practically a showcase for her creative mind. It is divine and crisp with fun creations from the uncanny valley-esque flowers in bloom, the Queen’s court and the Mad Tea Party. Kathryn Beaumont plays Alice with ease, heart and wonder.
The songs are rich with “The Unbirthday Song” being perfect nonsense, the gorgeous “All in a Golden Afternoon,” the heartfelt daydream that is “In A World of My Own” and the menacing “Painting the Roses Red” helping to carry the story along. Characters leap out of Lewis Carroll’s work with manic animation and over blown personalities that make Wonderland blossom including the rude and obnoxious Queen of Hearts, voiced by Verna Felton, stealing every scene she is in. Alice in Wonderland is a fun trip down the rabbit hole, no matter what age. Also, I can confirm from my weed smoking friends that this is a perfect film to watch when stoned as hell.
Critic’s Quote: “A few of the episodes are dandy, such as the mad tea party and the caucus race; the music is tuneful and sugary and the color is excellent. Watching this picture is something like nibbling those wafers that Alice eats.”- Bosley Crowther, New York Times, July 30, 1951
Signature Moment: The entirety of the Mad Tea Party as it is pure absurdity, hilarity and makes Ed Wynn’s performance as the Mad Hatter outstanding.