Alice in Wonderland (1966)

Run Time - 60 min.  |  
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

A more appropriate title for this animated 60-minute special might have been Alice in Hanna-Barbera Land, since the cartoon producers have eschewed the original Lewis Carroll text and John Tenniel illustrations for something that more closely resembles The Jetsons or Scooby Doo. Updated to the 1960s, the story begins as Alice, a precocious suburban youngster, escapes the wrath of her stern father when she and her dog Fluff follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. In standard Hanna-Barbera operating procedure, several of the familiar Wonderland denizens are redrawn to resemble the actors providing their voices: thus, The White Knight looks and talks like "Jose Jimenez," the Hispanic character created by comedian Bill Dana (who also wrote the script), while the Queen of Hearts is a visual and verbal clone of Zsa Zsa Gabor. In a similar vein, some of the characters have been completely overhauled to be more "relevant" to Sixties viewers: Humpty Dumpty is now Humphrey Dumpty, with his Bogart-like voice provided by Allan Melvin; the Mad Hatter has a female counterpart, Hedda Hatter, voiced by gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (famous for her bizarre headwear); and the Caterpillar has suddenly grown two heads, who look and sound exactly like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. The songs, by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse of Bye Bye Birdie fame, are pleasant but forgettable, with the exception of "What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing In a Place Like This?", sung by the Cheshire Cat (his "hipster" voice supplied by Sammy Davis Jr.). In fact, it is obvious that Hanna-Barbera thought that they had a hit on their hands with this song, the title of which is used as the "subtitle" of this irreverent but entertaining cartoon romp. Alice in Wonderland first aired March 30, 1966, on ABC.