Home > Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century, Reviews > ALICE IN WONDERLAND – Oliver Wallace


January 30, 2023 Leave a comment Go to comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

As a young man Walt Disney was fond of the two Lewis Carroll novels “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and “Through The Looking Glass”. As early as 1933 he conceived of making a film adaptation, but it did not take form until 1945 and then would require six years to bring his dream to fruition. Disney personally managed production with a budget of $3 million, a team of thirteen writers were hired to craft a screenplay based on both of Carroll’s books, and a trio consisting of Clyde Geronini, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske were tasked with directing. A fine voice cast was assembled, including Katherine Beaumont as Alice, Ed Wynn as Mad Hatter, Richard Haydn as Caterpillar, Sterling Holloway as Cheshire Cat, Jerry Colonna as March Hare, Verna Felton as Queen of Hearts, J. Pat O’Malley as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Bill Thompson as White Rabbit, Joseph Kearns as Doorknob, Sink Trout as King of Hearts, and James MacDonald as Dormouse.

The story is set in England and follows the adventure of a young girl named Alice who one day while daydreaming discovers a white rabbit in a waist coat. She chases him down a rabbit hole, which lands her in a fantastical world inhabiting by amazing inhabitants. After a number of amazing and harrowing adventures Alice manages to escape to her point of entry, where she emerges from a dream, returns to her former life, and reunites with her family. The film was another commercial failure for Disney, losing $600,000. Critical reception was very mixed, with British critics quite harsh, accusing Disney of Americanizing a British literary classic. Yet the film has aged well, and the consensus today is that it is a fine Disney effort. The film earned one Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Scoring a Musical Picture.

In 1939 Disney hired Frank Churchill to compose songs for the film, but after six years of development hell Disney changed his vision, and hired the songwriting team of Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston, but only one of their songs – “The Unbirthday Song” – made it into the film. The next songwriting team consisted of Sammy Fain and lyricist Bob Hillard, who succeeded in meeting Disney’s expectations. For the score, Oliver Wallace had scored dozens of Disney cartoons, as well as the feature films Dumbo and Cinderella. He had earned Walt Disney’s trust and was given the scoring assignment. Wallace was tasked with providing a musical narrative, which would incorporate a number of the song melodies in the underscore to maintain film pacing and linkage between the fifteen different song numbers. He chose to utilize the melody of the title song “Alice in Wonderland”, as his Main Theme given that this was Alice’s story, and its tender and heartfelt music would endear Alice with the audience. The melodies for “The Caucus Song” and “The Unbirthday Song” were also incorporated with the former lending itself well for energetic passages, while the later supported the comedy. The song’s themselves fit the characters and film scenes like a glove, bringing them to life, and filling us full of wonder.

“Main Title” offers a score highlight where Wallace masterfully sets the perfect tone of the film. It opens with grand fanfare to support the RKO Pictures logo, followed by a rabbit bugler announcing “Walt Disney Presents”, joined by ethereal mixed voice chorus. A harp glissando joins to support display of the film title, and choral singing of the title song as the main title credits flow. The song offers the classic melodic lyricism demanded by Disney, providing a warm, comforting, and endearing song, which fills us with wonder, and sets the tone of the film. “Pay Attention” reveals an idyllic garden scene bursting with daisy blossoms, graced by beautiful fluttering butterflies of every color. Alice’s mother reads from a book as Alice and her cat listen above on a tree branch. Wallace creates a soothing ambiance with a warm and comforting passage borne by strings tenero with harp adornment. In the film wordless mixed chorus attend, but this is not featured on the album. I believe the film version is superior. At 0:55 we segue into “In a World of My Own” sung with a child-like voice of Kathryn Beaumont with wordless choral support. The song voices the dreamlike aspirations of Alice as we view verdant garden scenes of great beauty. She longs for the world she describes and we feel it in the notes.

“I’m Late” reveals a corpulent rabbit dressed in a formal jacket, bearing an umbrella and pocket watch waddling through the garden carried by pizzicato strings animato and bubbling woodwinds. An accelerando ensues empowered by the song as the rabbit runs away, with Alice and her cat in pursuit. The pizzicato strings and orchestration provide a lightness of being, offering a delightful passage. “Curiosity Leads to Trouble” reveals Alice following the rabbit who disappears into a rabbit hole. Wallace sow unease with dark tremolo strings and a foreboding musical narrative as Alice decides to enter. At 0:18 a series of piano glissandi with harp adornment support her falling off a cliff and descending down a deep vertical shaft. At 0:28 other-worldly vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel and metallic effervescence support her dress filling with air and becoming a parachute, which slows her descent. She descends through a large room filled with furniture and books, one of which she grabs. At 1:01 a plucked guitar string simulates a ticking grandfather clock as she lands in a rocking chair. At 1:17 frenetic strings surge as she sees the rabbit running away. Spirited pursuit music propels her chase until 1:13 when door slams shut supported by pizzicato strings and woodwinds animato. At 1:37 a descent motif supports her opening a series of ever smaller doors as she crawls through into a large room. The other-worldly motif resumes as she runs across the room to open its door, yet the door knob is alive and yells “Ohh!” when she grasps it. At 1:54 we segue into “Simply Impassable” with the title song melody tinged with sadness supporting her following the door knob’s instruction to drink from the bottle on the table. At 2:44 a stepped descent motif supports her shrinking. Yet passage is still denied as she need the key on the table to open the door. The title song melody becomes sad until she eats a cookie that says “eat me”. A stepped ascent motif at 3:09 supports her growing very large, which causes her to begin crying and flood the room. She again drinks from the bottle, shrinks, and falls into the bottle. Wallace supports the scene with the title song melody, with comedic embellishment and energy beginning at 3:33 as she floats through the door knob’s mouth to the other side.

“The Sailor’s Hornpipe” reveals Alice seeing a corpulent Dodo bird floating on a large billed bird, propelled by another bird flying behind. He sings in true maritime fashion, the instantly recognizable, and classic song first published in 1797, with vocals by Bill Thompson. An orchestral reprise of the melody supports the Dodo sailing away. At 0:34 a spirited musical narrative supports the sight of a pelican, owl and parrot riding a wood plank. She cries to be rescued and at 0:43 a harp glissando ushers in a team of lobsters, which swim by supported by the melody of the English nursery rhyme “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” (1852). An orchestral swirl supports Alice capsizing. As she rights herself, she sees ahead on the beach all the birds, lobsters, starfish and other fish dancing, full of merriment and singing, vocals by the Jed Colon Chorus & The Rhythmaires with Bill Thompson. The song is playful, full of good cheer and merriment as Alice joins in the fun. At 1:29 the spirited song melody reprises orchestrally as Alice sees the rabbit, who runs away with her in pursuit. At 2:10 a diminuendo of uncertainty unfolds as her chase leads her into a dark forest. She loses him and we close with foreboding.

“We’re Not Waxworks” reveals two plump men dressed alike in silly outfits dancing lockstep around Alice, who is unaware of their presence. Wallace supports with bouncy, playful woodwinds and strings until she discovers them. She sees their embroidered names; “Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum”. In “How D’Ye Do and Shake Hands/Curious?” the two men perform a truly silly dance, vocals by J. Patrick O’Malley. They want her to stay and play and Wallace supports with silly comedy to match their hilarious on-screen dancing antics (not on the album). She departs saying she must find out where the rabbit is going. They try to warn her, and have her sit on a log as they perform “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, vocals by J. Patrick O’Malley. The song is playful, comedic and embraces child-like fun as the silly walrus dances, supported by his buffoonish side-kick, the carpenter. In “Old Father William”, Alice wishes to depart, but the twins insist on performing another number, vocals by J. Patrick O’Malley. As they sing and dance to the playful tune, Alice sneaks away unnoticed.

“Mary Ann!” reveals Alice coming upon a cottage caried by strings tenero. She hears someone calling for Mary Ann, and the shutters on the second floor open to reveal it is the rabbit calling out her name. As she approaches the front door, the rabbit runs out at 0:12 propelled by comedic scurrying strings animato. He passes her, yet stops and calls her, Mary Ann. He tells her to fetch his gloves upstairs and she enters at 0:26 propelled by his horn blast. (Note, this next sequence is not on the album) Inside woodwinds gentile support her search until she finds a cookie that says “Eat Me”. She hums the title song melody and an ascent motif supports her growing large again. As she grows her foot pushes the rabbit out the door, a descent motif propels his ejection. Frenetic strings carry his departure as he runs away, leaving poor Alice trapped and encased in the cottage. Album-film unity resumes at 0:30 when a Dodo waddles up to the cottage supported by a silly, waddling comedic musical narrative. At 0:42 we segue into “A Lizard with a Ladder” as a lizard arrives with a ladder carried by a happy-go-lucky whistling tune. The waddling Dodo’s Theme joins at 0:57 as he escorts the lizard up the ladder to the chimney. When he looks in a see her enormity, he cries monster, and flees propelled by frenetic strings. (Note, this next sequence is not on the album) Dodo catches him and takes him back, but in descending through the chimney, he dislodges soot, which makes Alice sneeze, propelling him out the chimney like a missile, supported by an ascent motif. Dodo then seizes upon a solution and at 1:27 we segue into “We’ll Smoke the Blighter Out”, where he proposes smoking her out. He sings the silly song with the same waddling cadence associated with his theme as he sets the rabbit’s furniture on fire, vocals by Bill Thompson.

We conclude at 2:07 with truly frenetic orchestral comedy as Alice grabs a carrot from the garden, eats it, and immediately shrinks back to a miniature size supported at 2:19 by a rapid descent motif. We conclude with the rabbit’s scurrying motif as he again runs away yelling, “I’m late, I’m late!” “The Garden” reveals Alice running after him into a garden supported by a twinkling piano effervescence. Strings gentile create a warm and welcoming ambiance rendering the title song melody as matronly flowers begin talking to Alice. The child flowers decide to sing for Alice and the mother flowers decide on the song. At 0:59 a harp arpeggio ushers in “All in the Golden Afternoon” a wonderful score highlight. The child flowers each perform voice tunning before singing the strolling-like song, which celebrates the beauty of the garden, sung with gentility by mixed chorus and Kathryn Beaumont. At 2:32 a sparkling effervescence as we transition to an orchestral rendering of the song, with the flowers imitating the instruments of the orchestra. We resume the choral rendering of the song and conclude with a wonderful, resplendent flourish!

“What Genus Are You?” reveals the flower matrons curious as to what genus of flower Alice was. When she says she is not a flower at 0:38 tension builds as the matrons decide that she is in reality, a weed. A torrent of orchestral aggression surges at 1:00 as the flowers drive “Alice the weed” out of their garden, which earns her consternation. The flowers respond by flushing water, which sweeps Alice out of the garden, carried by a fluidic descent motif (not on the album). “A-E-I-O-U (The Caterpillar Song)” reveals Alice coming across a caterpillar smoking a hookah as he sings a song of vowels displayed in floating smoke form. His performance is supported by an exotic oboe arabo, nativist drums, tambourine, vocals by Richard Haydn. At 0:52 we segue with tension into “Who R U” as the caterpillar discovers Alice and asks who she is. A flute arabo meanders joined by exotic auras as the pretentious caterpillar and Alice banter. A comedic prelude with silly ‘Mickey Mousing’ effects leads to a segue at 2:04 into the song “How Doth the Little Crocodile”, sung pretentiously with comedic accents by the caterpillar, baritone vocals by Richard Haydn.

At 2:51 obnoxious horns support his query “Who R U”? Well, Alice has had enough and departs supported by an angry musical narrative, only to be beckoned back by the caterpillar. As she makes her way back to him at 3:20 a playful and comedic musical narrative supports. At 3:38 we segue into “Keep Your Temper” with a harp strike as he counsels her to “Keep your temper”. The flute arabo returns bathed in exotic auras as she says her problem is that her current height of three inches is too small. This elicits the caterpillar’s outrage at 3:58 when he says he is three inches tall, supported by a surging torrent of orchestral anger. We conclude at 4:16 with a sense of wonder as Alice sees that the caterpillar has transformed into a beautiful butterfly. He promises to assist her, saying eating one side of the mushroom will make you taller, while the other side will make you smaller. He then flies away carried by fluttering woodwinds. “A Serpent!” reveals Alice sitting on the large mushroom trying to decide which side to eat. A comforting title song melody supports as she pulls off two pieces and ponders, which one to eat. She takes a bite of the piece in her right hand and at 0:21 a propulsive ascent motif supports her rapid increase in size until she burst through the forest canopy. She startles a bird who begins frantically shouting “Serpent! Serpent!” A comedic musical narrative full of slapstick unfolds as Alice convinces the bird that she is not a serpent, but instead, a little girl. Alice is flustered and at 1:05 takes a bite of the other mushroom piece and shrinks back to her three-inch size, carried by a descent motif.

“Alone Again” reveals Alice licking the mushroom in her right hand and growing back to her real-life size. As she begins her trip anew through the woods, the warm and comforting melody of the Alice’s Theme carries her progress. At 0:19 we segue into the song “’Twas Brillig/Lose Something” with baritone vocal by Sterling Holloway. The wistful song supported by ethereal strings seems to Alice to be gibberish as she looks about, trying to discover the singer. She discovers it is a Cheshire cat resting on a tree branch above. A harmonica chord at 0:42 supports the cat singing the second verse, supported by warm strings. Upon conclusion of the song, a playful musical narrative unfolds with other-worldly and sparkling metallic embellishments as the cat disappears, and then reappears. At 1:33 music begins strolling with comedic Hawaiian accents as the cat offers multiple directions for Alice to either chase the white rabbit, or obtain answers from the Mad Hatter. At 2:13 the cat disappears supported by a misterioso and Alice begins her trek through the woods anew.

“The Mad Tea Party” reveals Alice coming upon a tea party, attended by the Mad Hatter and March Hare, a rabbit in an orange suit. A collection of teapots all whistle supported by a calliope for an amusing and silly musical narrative. At 0:35 we segue into “The Unbirthday Song” sung by Alice, the Mad Hatter and March Hare, vocals by Ed Wynn, Jerry Colonna and Kathryn Beaumont. Racing strings usher in a warm and comforting musical narrative as Alice takes a seat at the table. The music sours at 1:09 after the Mad Hatter and March Hare criticize Alice, who was not invited, for joining them at the table. At 1:15 the rabbit conducts the silly opening music by the teapots, which resumes and ushers in more of the song. A drum roll supports Alice blowing out the candle on her cake to make a wish, which then causes the cake to launch into the sky like a rocket, empowered by an ascent motif. They complete the final line of the song – “a very merry unbirthday to you” – after which, the cake explodes in a brilliant fireworks display, with shimmering xylophone supporting the lightshow. At 2:07 we segue into the song “Twinkle Twinkle” sung by the drunk mouse, who drifts down from the sky using his umbrella as a parachute, child-like vocal by James MacDonald.

A twinkling xylophone supports his descent into a teapot. At 2:20 we segue into “Clean Cup Move Down” atop a spirited musical narrative as the Mad Hatter insists Alice drink from a clean cup. A string tremolo supports Alice telling her story supported by comforting strings tenero. When she mentions her cat Dinah at the mouse takes flight, but is subdued and placed in a teapot. The silliness continues as Alice tries to tell her story, to no avail due to the slapstick antics of March Hare and the Mad Hatter. Alice is again frustrated and begins to leave when the white rabbit appears and we segue at 3:25 into “Mad Watch” atop frenetic strings as he runs amuck shouting “I’m so late, I’m so very, very late!” The Mad Hatter takes his watch, tells him it needs repair, and his repair efforts are supported by some of the score’s most outrageous, slapstick silliness. That Wallace conceived this is an astounding achievement. We close with the Mad Hatter destroying the rabbit’s watch, and then tossing him out as they sing the line; “A very merry unbirthday to you” as scurrying strings support his run for freedom. Alice has had it and decides to leave as we see the teapot singers, calliope and the Mad Hatter and March Hare reprising the silly “Unbirthday Song”. The music for these last two scenes is not found on the album.

“The Tulgey Wood” reveals Alice walking angrily through the forest, determined to go home, propelled by upper register strings resoluti countered by heavy bass. At 0:19 the music become foreboding as she comes across a sign that says “Tulgey Wood”. As she enters, woodwinds animato and light strings spiritoso animate the inhabitants; eye glasses and mirrors, who surprise Alice. Beleaguered strings an woodwinds support Alice’s decision to turn back, however at 0:53 she steps on a bulb horn, which squawks like a duck. The silly squawking propels her fleeing with and her little ones to the safety of the lake. At 0:52 croaking frogs put on a show supported by drums and cymbal clashing. As she resumes her trip home her theme carries her progress until 1:33 when zany, grating silliness supports the sight of birds, with umbrella bodies, playing under a waterfall. We close with whirling woodwinds as the fly to join her. The music becomes menacing as they stare at her, and Alice wisely departs (music not on the album for this closing scene).

In “Strange Birds” the music darkens as we see Alice walking through dark woods and discovering a bird with a shovel beak digging holes. She backs up and bumps into a bird with a bird cage body, that house two chicks. The music is playful and darts off with silliness as the chicks’ escape, flee, followed by their crazed mother. She catches them, swallows them, and a musical kerplop supports their drop from her mouth into the cage. Next, we see an owl with an accordion-like body flying, propelled by sliding strings and an accordion effect. She then encounters birds with hammer head beaks and pencil head beaks. Silly horns support their antics as they fashion a series of signs which say; “Don’t Step on the Momeraths”. When she says “Momeraths” hair topped gummy-legged creatures spring to life supported ascending xylophone wonderment. Scurrying strings carry them forward where they reveal a forest path. Alice is delighted, and her comforting theme carries her onward. A bass pizzicato supports her discovery of a dog, with a broom head sweeping away the forest path ahead of her. He wipes clean the path ahead and behind as he departs.

“Very Good Advice” reveals Alice is despondent, and sits on a rock, with her telling herself to stay put until someone finds her. But then she realizes that no one knows she is here and despairs. Ethereal wordless mixed voices support tenderly until 0:26, when we flow into the song, with vocals by Kathryn Beaumont. Her vocals are tinged with sadness and feelings of hopelessness as she begins to weep, supported by the ethereal wordless mixed chorus. Soon all the strange birds of this forest are also weeping as the mixed chorus sings a tender, sympathetic reprise. In “Whom Did You Expect” the Cheshire cat reappears ethereally, joined by playful woodwinds and strings, which offer a sardonic reprise of the song’s melody as he warns her of the queen. We close with musically with faux regality as he opens a portal, which reveals a castle in the distance. She enters a hedge labyrinth, hears men singing, and looks over the hedge to see card men painting white roses with red paint. We flow into the happy-go-lucky song “Painting the Roses Red”, vocals by The Melo Men and Kathryn Beaumont. At 1:36 we segue into “March of the Cards” a wonderful score highlight. Fanfare reale resound as card men with spears march in formation approach. Her painting companions yell “The Queen!” and they, along with Alice, prostrate themselves. A vibrant horn propelled marcia festivo buttressed with whistling, carries the queen’s arrival as they parade with precision marching.

“The Queen of Hearts” opens with silly bugling by the white rabbit. Lyrical woodwinds usher in the arrival of the big, mannish, and corpulent queen, with fanfare joining as the effeminate, diminutive and cowardly king is also announced. At 0:21 we segue darky into Who’s Been Painting My Roses Red?” as the queen sees the recently painted roses and begins walking angrily towards them supported by a plodding marcia sinistri. She uproots the rose tree and begins singing with overt menace the song, vocal by Verna Felton; She orders the three card men beheaded and they are carried off with men’s chorus taking up the song. The queen then shouts out, “Silence!”

“A Little Girl” reveals Alice’s introduction to the imperious queen. As Alice is reminded of etiquette, a dichotomous musical narrative unfolds with Alice supported by deferential strings and woodwinds tenero, and the queen empowered by harsh horns imperioso. The queen asks if Alice plays croquet, to which she answers, yes, your majesty, and at 0:58 we segue atop fanfare into “Let the Game Begin” propelled by trilling woodwinds and frenetic strings as we see the card men shuffling themselves, dealing themselves out on the lawn, and then forming arches. In the film a vibrant musical narrative unfolds using the “Painting the Roses Red” song melody as the queen selects a stork for her mallet and little hedgehogs are delivered by the rabbit to use as balls. The hedgehog is rolled off by the king before she can strike it and frenetic, racing strings animato propel it along the course as we see the card men shifting to ensure it passes directing through them. It passes through the first half of the course successfully, and we conclude with celebratory fanfare. The queen takes in the applause celebrating her great shot with the “Painting the Roses Red” melody rendered as a festive danza della vittoria. She takes her second shot to complete the course and the trilling woodwinds and frenetic strings reprise as we see the card men shifting to ensure it passes directing through them. However, this time one card man slips and the hedgehog fails to pass under him, which elicits dire horns as the queen shouts; “Off with his head!” Slapstick ‘Mickey-mousing’ unfolds using fanfare and “Painting the Roses Red” song melody as the bird mallet refuses to cooperate with Alice. She manages to strike the hedgehog and frenetic strings and trilling woodwinds propel his roll along the course, with each card man moving to ensure it misses. At 1:07 we come to an orchestral crashing halt as the hedgehog crashes into a tree. At 1:12 we segue into “I Warn You Child” as woodwinds delicato interplay with the queen’s imperious fanfare as the mischievous Cheshire cat returns to confound Alice with his antics.

The cat hooks the queen’s mallet under her dress so when she swings, she is upended, exposing her petticoats. She is outraged and we flow with menace into “The Trial” as the king convinces her to afford Alice a trial. A racing ascent motif carries the bugle blowing white rabbit up to the bailiff’s perch. String chords support his introduction of the Queen, the jury and loyal subjects, with whining woodwinds for the king. As the charges are read dire strings join with horn irato outbursts when the queen rages. He testifies that he knows nothing, which elicits horns dramatico and chattering strings and woodwinds as the jury documents. This pattern of horn bursts, followed by the chattering motif supports the drunken mouse’s inane testimony. At 1:20 we segue into “The Unbirthday Song (Reprise)”, as the Mad Hatter provides testimony. At 1:41 the Cheshire cat reappears, Alice calls him out, and the mouse panics. A scurrying musical narrative supports his fleeing, with March Hare and the Mad Hatter in hot pursuit ending in corny ‘Mickey-mousing’ slapstick as the queen is accidentally struck with a hammer at 2:00. At 2:01 we segue into “Rule 42” atop dire horns as Alice eats both mushrooms and grows to an enormous size. An orchestral torrent joins as she is told she must leave the court as she is too tall. As Alice tells the queen she is a fat, pompous bad-tempered old tyrant, she shrinks back to her normal size. The queen is now emboldened and glares at Alice.

The Cheshire cat reappears and repeats Alice’s insult, which sends the queen into a rage. We segue angrily at 2:09 into “Off with Her Head” as the queen orders her beheading, which unleashes an orchestral maelstrom as her card men army attacks. Flight music propels Alice’s escape through the maze, with the card men in hot pursuit. At 2:20 we flow into the score’s most kinetic action passage with “The Caucus Race (Reprise)” as Alice’s desperately tries to escape. Wallace whips his orchestra into frenzy with dazzling ascent and descent motifs accenting his tour de force. At 3:33 the music darkens and becomes grim as she reaches the door in “Please Wake Up Alice”. She sees through the keyhole herself sleeping on the other side. She desperately tries to wake herself up to end the dream as the queen and her army close propelled by a maelstrom. At 3:58 a twinkling celeste supports Alice waking and speaking about her adventure. Her mother is exasperated and at 4:04 we segue into “Time for Tea/Finale” with her calling Alice to join her for tea. As they walk off through the garden we finish with a warm, and final reprise of Alice’s song, sung by mixed choir. We conclude the film is splendid fashion with the song ending in a grand horn declared flourish. At 4:46 we segue into “End Credits”, with a mixed chorus reprise of the title song.

I would like to thank Randy Thornton and Walt Disney Records for the restoration and release of the songs, and Oliver Wallace’s wonderful score for “Alice in Wonderland”. The digital restoration and mastering of the original monaural sources were largely successful, however 21st century audio qualitative standards were not achieved. Nevertheless I believe the album provides a good listening experience. Oliver Wallace had tremendous experience scoring cartoon shorts, and Disney animated films. In a musical, each song is a discreet performance, which required Wallace to masterfully incorporate a number of the song melodies as leitmotifs so as to weave together a seamless musical narrative. As a cartoon tale conceived for kids, there are many light-hearted and comedic passages in the film’s narrative, which feature zany, silly and slapstick buffoonery. Wallace’s approach was traditional for the cartoon genre, and ‘Mickey-mousing’ is pervasive, yet for me it was synergistic and contributed to the audience laughing and having fun. In my judgement the comedic, fantasy, action, and suspense writing were all well-conceived and executed. Indeed, some of the orchestration and complexity of his action writing were simple extraordinary and it took a number of listens for me to fully appreciate them. Folks, I believe that Wallace’s music brought Alice and the fantastic inhabitants of Wonderland to life, which endeared them to us, and allowed Walt Disney to realize his vision. Throughout the film the confluence of the story’s narrative, animation and music was just extraordinary. I believe this may be one of Wallace’s finest career efforts, and one of the finest animated scores of the Golden Age. I highly recommend you purchase the album as an essential legacy score.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to the Main Title: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VVSN_Q7hhA&list=PLC9hiv-DEkAOG4TxM0nGv4oZ8yQIXgDse

Buy the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Main Title (Alice in Wonderland) (2:33)
  • Pay Attention/In a World of My Own (2:13)
  • I’m Late (0:43)
  • Curiosity Leads to Trouble/Simply Impassable (4:04)
  • The Sailor’s Hornpipe/The Caucus Race (2:27)
  • We’re Not Waxworks (0:25)
  • How D’Ye Do and Shake Hands/Curious? (0:56)
  • The Walrus and the Carpenter (5:06)
  • Old Father William (0:23)
  • Mary Ann!/A Lizard with a Ladder/We’ll Smoke the Blighter Out (2:42)
  • The Garden/All in the Golden Afternoon (3:40)
  • What Genus Are You? (1:14)
  • A-E-I-O-U (The Caterpillar Song)/Who R U/How Doth the Little Crocodile/Keep Your Temper (4:34)
  • A Serpent! (1:09)
  • Alone Again/’Twas Brillig/Lose Something (2:31)
  • The Mad Tea Party/The Unbirthday Song/Twinkle Twinkle/Clean Cup Move Down/Mad Watch (4:31)
  • The Tulgey Wood (2:02)
  • Very Good Advice (2:10)
  • Whom Did You Expect (0:53)
  • Painting the Roses Red/March of the Cards (2:49)
  • The Queen of Hearts/Who’s Been Painting My Roses Red? (1:22)
  • A Little Girl/Let the Game Begin/I Warn You Child (1:27)
  • The Trial/The Unbirthday Song (Reprise)/Rule 42/Off with Her Head/The Caucus Race (Reprise)/Please Wake Up Alice/Time for Tea/Finale (5:26)

Running Time: 55 minutes 20 seconds

Walt Disney 60960-2 (1951/1997)

Music composed and conducted by Oliver Wallace. Songs written by Sammy Fain and Bob Hilliard. Orchestrations by Frank Comstock, Joseph Dubin, Ray Sherman and Paul J. Smith. Additional music by Frank Churchill, Edward H. Plumb and Leigh Harline. Recorded and mixed by XXXX. Score produced by Oliver Wallace. Album produced by Randy Thornton.

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