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UK 1985
produced by
Rick McCallum, Kenith Trodd, Verity Lambert (executive), Dennis Potter (executive) for PfH, Thorn Emi
directed by Gavin Millar
starring Carol Browne, Ian Holm, Peter Gallagher, Caris Corfman, Nicola Cowper, Jane Asher, Amelia Shankley, Imogen Boorman, Emma King, Rupert Wainwright, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, James Wilby, Shane Rimmer, Peter Whitman, Ken Campbell, William Hootkins, Jeffrey Chiswick, Pat Starr, Johnny M, Alan Shearman, Danny Brainin, Sam Douglas, Peter Banks, Scott Hoxby, Ron Berglas, Ron Travis, Thomasine Heiner, Olivier Pierre, Tony Mansell, Ron Mueck, Steve Whitmire, Karen Prell, Michael Sundin, Michael Walter, and the voices of Fulton Mackay, Alan Bennett, Julie Walters, Tony Haygarth, Frank Middlemass
written by Dennis Potter, incorporating portions of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, music by Stanley Myers, creature effects by Jim Henson's Creature Shop

Alice in Wonderland

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In 1932, Alice Hargreaves (Coral Browne), close to 80 years old, is invited to the USA to receive honorary scholarship at Columbia University in honour of and at the centenary of Lewis Carroll (Ian Holm), by then long deceased - and the newspapers go crazy about her. Now why should this be such a big story? Because Alice Hargreaves (born Liddell), when she was 10 (and played by Amelia Shankley) was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's world famous Alice in Wonderland, which makes her a star at least to American audiences. Unemployed newspaperman Jack Dolan (Peter Gallagher) is quick to take the old woman, unaccustomed to American popular culture, under his wing and get her some lucrative radio deals ... taking a share of 20% of course.

Alice though is not the cute little girl Lewis Carrol was infatuated by and probably fell in love with 70 years earlier but a disillusioned eccentric who's ill-mannered most of the time, and she takes out her moods on her companion young Lucy (Nicola Cowper) mostly, who, coming from an orphanage, depends on her job at Alice's, which is why she never speaks up ... until she falls in love with Jack - and vice versa - which gives her the strength to stand her own ground, while Jack learns there's more than only money ... and Alice, being forced to relive her past on this here trip and remembering scenes from Alice in Wonderland, becomes a better person as well ...


The best thing about this movie first: Jim Henson's creatures are simply wonderful, so much so that one can only wish this was an actual adaptation of Alice in Wonderland rather than a true story period piece - and here's the problem with the movie: the "true story" that is told isn't all that interesting, the parts with old Alice are pretty schmaltzy and try to hammer across the message "stay true to your inner child" a bit too bluntly, while the "love story" between young Alice and Lewis Carroll can't decide which way to go it seems, either it is about a circa 50 year old man (Ian Holm was 53 when this was filmed and looks it, yet Lewis Carrol was a mere 20 years older than Alice so would have been 30 when Alice was 10, which is even pointed out in the film) in love with a 10 year old, or depicting the actual points of inspiration for his most famous novel (which there is precious little of in this film). Now all of this results in a film that might have some great creatures and is rather well-filmed and acted, but for the most part it's rather boring ...


By the way, writer Dennis Potter tackled the same subject (the story of Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll and the creation of Alice in Wonderland) 20 years earlier in the episode Alice of the BBC-series The Wednesday Play (not to be confused with the episode Alice in Wonderland [1966] of the same series).


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD