Blue Sky Casting #3

I’m always kind of dissatisfied with adaptations of Lewis Carroll. The Svankmajer ALICE is pretty good, but as an adaptation I never felt it caught the tone of the book, that calm, dreamy feeling, where Alice perceives things as strange alright, but not VERY strange. I like Jonathan Miller’s BBC version, especially the dignified cast and the decision not to use big prosthetic makeups, but the Ravi Shankar score seems like a fashionable gesture rather than a shrewd artistic choice. I can remember as a kid being put into quite an odd state by the Disney version, but looking at it now it’s more HELLZAPOPPIN’ than Charles Dodgson. DREAMCHILD, scripted by Dennis Potter, is nice, but not all it should be.

Wouldn’t it have been great if some far-thinking British producer had brought Luis Bunuel to the UK, just after L’AGE D’OR, to film both the Alice books, back-to-back?

Lobster Quadrille.

Looking-glass House.

He could have had the cream of British stage and screen working for him — probably some of the same names Miller had in the sixties : Gielgud, Finlay Currie — as well as people like Ernest Thesiger (The Mad Hatter), Alastair Sim (The Duchess), Charles Laughton as the ultimate Humpty Dumpty…

But we can only dream of this, and if we are going to dream, we should dream of absurd and baffling things, so I give you:

 SAM PECKINPAH’S

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

The Wild Bunch

The White Rabbit — L.Q. Jones

The Dodo — Randolph Scott

The Caterpillar — Emilio Fernandez

The Duchess — R.G. Armstrong

The Cheshire Cat — Ernest Borgnine

The Mad Hatter — David Warner

The March Hare — Warren Oates

The Dormouse — Slim Pickens

The Queen of Hearts — Ida Lupino

The King of Hearts — Robert Preston

The Griffin — Kris Kristofferson

The Mock Turtle — Bob Dylan

Alice — some Mexican whore.

Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan.

Griffin and Mock Turtle.

Dylan = Turtle. You can see what I mean, right?

“Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia — OFF WITH HIS HEAD!”

4 Responses to “Blue Sky Casting #3”

  1. Ooh, Borgnine as the Cheshire Cat. Now that’s inspired.

    I’ve often enjoyed imagining an Alice where Don Knotts got to play the Mad Hatter. The Hatter would instantly become more sympathetic, even sad, confused in his madness. Alas, like my dream of Frank Sinatra recording Ray Charles’s Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, ’tis never to be.

  2. Borgnine has the grin alright. Someone should hurry up and cast him.

    Knotts would be nice. We don’t really HAVE Don knotts in the UK, but I’ve seen bits on youtube.

    Visually, the most perfect Mad Hatters might be Kenneth Williams (whom you don’t really HAVE in the US, although he nearly played the painter in Welles’ THE TRIAL) or George Arliss (a figure lost in the mists of time: nobody HAS him). But sympathy wouldn’t really enter into it with either of those.

    Oh, the other great Humpty Dumpty would be Charles Gray, best known as Blofeld in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and the criminologist in ROCKY HORROR. Like Humpty, he has no neck.

    Hey, i like your blog!

  3. I’ve never understood why Paramount, having the Marx Brothers under contract in 1933, didn’t cast Groucho, Chico and Harpo as the Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse respectively. You’d need to reassign some parts – Harpo could do the butter-in-the-watch business, and Chico could take over the Dormouse’s dialogue:

    “But they were IN the well.”
    “Atsa right. Well in.”

  4. Margaret Dumont for Queen of Hearts! Yay!

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