Yes, I was going to post this sequence in two parts because it was too long and I'd post the first part today and the second part on Sunday; but since I want to finish Alice before Christmas, that I decided to go ahead and make it in two parts!
The Mad Hatter and the March Hare, are arguably my favourite characters in the film; they're just so mad and crazy; they make me laugh a lot, very entertaining characters; and the Mad Hatter's design is certainly similar to the great John Tenniel illustrations in the Alice books.
Alice has now taken advice from the Cheshire Cat, and warns them that they're mad and anyone she comes across is mad; and she tries to be polite to whoever she meets up with. Until, Alice comes across a house, with music playing and voices singing; and notices some party going on with the Mad Hatter and March Hare; and they're teapots are like music instruments; and when Alice arrives applauds; the Mad Hatter and March Hare find an intruder, and keep telling Alice off saying, "It's rude to sit down without being invited", and Alice is curious that some birthday party must be going on, and finds out it's an "unbirthday" party.
Now, the "Unbirthday" scenes were never written in the original novels, it was obviously a Disney creation; and I've always thought it was a clever idea that the Mad Hatter and March Hare would always be celebrating parties 364 days a year (365 in leap years), and that when it's their birthday they don't celebrate. Although, I won't say "Today is my unbirthday, too", to anyone in case, they prepare useless celebrations!
Now, this sequence was done by quite a bit of animators; Ward Kimball is long, long known for his work on it; and is in fact credited for a number of single scenes of the Mad Hatter with gags like using a teapot as a breath freshener, etc. Ward and the characters are also superivsed by : Woolie Reitherman and John Lounsbery (Mad Hatter scenes only), and a lot of scenes are done by Cliff Nordberg (who does a lot of great scenes), and teapots and Dormouse by Marvin Woodward. Alice is mainly animated by Marc Davis and Les Clark, with earlier scenes by Don Lusk. Woolie Reitherman animates a number of March Hare as well as a few Hatter scenes (and also animates all the White Rabbit, except in Shot 245 by Ward Kimball).
A lot of great animation, and I've got a lot to get through!
Ward Kimball, was long-known for his work on the Mad Hatter; and he animates a lot of the key scenes and acting scenes of the March Hare and Mad Hatter in early scenes, and then comes back later in the sequence when the Hatter tries to fix the White Rabbit's watch, but gets it ALL WRONG! Ward Kimball does a fine job, and there is a known publicity photo of him working on the Mad Hatter, and in the photo; he seemed to have had a really good time on the production! Although, he did do really fine animation, and he's probably my favourite Mad Hatter animator on the film; and John Lounsbery handles some of the shots of the Hatter; although he doesn't do much wacky scenes; except for some fine acting!
Ward Kimball (seated) and the man, Walt Disney.
In my opinion, I think the March Hare is more wilder and livlier than the Mad Hatter; because the March Hare just looks so wacky, bonkers and WILD; he is probably the craziest character I've come across in the film so far; and I love the animation of the character, so well timed and hilarious. Woolie Reitherman is probably my favourite animator on the March Hare animation; I love the scenes he works on, and the scenes of the Hare done by Reitherman are by far my favourite scenes, Cliff Nordberg done some very funny March Hare scenes as well, and it's quite a competition between Woolie and Cliff; but I'm going to have to go for Woolie because he's more expierenced at the time; and it certainly had appeal to me! You'll go to learn that my favourite animators here in this sequence are Cliff Nordberg and Woolie Reitherman, not Kimball or Lounsbery.
I've got a few framegrabs of shot 178 animated by Woolie Reitherman.
In this shot; Alice is explaining her story of how she went down the rabbit hole; and the March Hare comes with the dialogue "Very interesting (reacts) who's Dinah?", and I've always thought the shot was hilarious, and well timed; and I loved how the Hare looked like he fancied the name and appeal; when not realizing that Dinah was Alice's cat. Although, it may not be everyone's favourite scene in the film, but it's certainly a favourite to me. It was no surprise that Woolie did the White Rabbit animation before, or Sew. 006 The Rabbit's House, because it was likely for him to be there; but I never knew Woolie animated that shot of the March Hare who pantomimes over a female name, which I always thought was hilarious and had brilliant facial expressions.
Woolie Reitherman gets a scene that was in the book and became very debatable among Lewis Carroll fans, when the Mad Hatter's head was stuck in his hat and uses the top of his hat to speak and asks Alice, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?". Yes, about all adaptations of Alice have used that riddle and they were never answered in any adaptations; and often when it came to a problem like that; the problem managed to be got away when Alice was interrupted. Although, it has been debatable whenever or not there was an answer or now, because Lewis Carroll claims to have wrote this as nonsense, there was no answer! Although, there has been a very likely answer to the riddle which is "Poe wrote on both", and it's a pretty bad one, because famous poet Edgar Allen Poe was famous for bringing mystery stories in literature, and he wrote the poem "The Raven", and obviously wrote it on a desk; and that sort of gives out a similar answer.
Woolie and Cliff basically animate most of the March Hare scenes, while Cliff animates a lot of action scenes; and Woolie animates action scenes and comedy stuff: Woolie gives the March Hare an appealing look; and a very funny look on his face; while Nordberg gives the White Rabbit a rather more menacing look and changes its head slightly; although they both do it great in their own ways!
The name "March Hare" in the book was originally an old similie which was "mad as a march hare", and Carroll thought of a hare in the book and named it the "March Hare", and I though that it was very clever. Jerry Colonna, and I think his voice goes very straight and fast, and his voice impressions make me laugh; and he was a well-known comedian at the time; and he also was the narrator for a past Disney production, Casey at the Bat.
The Mad Hatter performed by Ed Wynn, is perfect casting; because the Hatter sort of looks like Wynn and the voice goes perfectly with the character; and I can't think of any voice better than Ed Wynn; I think it's brilliant. Ward Kimball thought he was great too; because in the documentary of the Making onf Alice in Wonderland and there are some footage of the Mad Tea Party; that was rotoscoped with Ward Kimball, John Lounsbery and Les Clark in the pictures, and Ed Wynn was playing really funny and you could see the smiles on everyone's faces when it was filmed. Ed Wynn was a very-known comedian at the time and was known as The Perfect Fool he was well-known for being on films like Stage Door Canteen, Mr. Dussel in The Dairy of Anne Frank, and one of his final appearances was playing Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins. Such a brilliant actor.
To me, the character design of the Mad Hatter reminds me of a Chinese stereotype; it's just the look of his teeth and eyebrows that reminds me of Chinese stereotypes; but that might not be the case!
Back to the animation: Marvin Woodward handles most of the teapots and the Dormouse; and his animation is charming, fun and lively; and he also handles three scenes of the March Hare conducting the teapots; although he animates the character differently that Reitherman and Nordberg, he gives the character very long ears compare to what Woolie or Cliff do.
The animation of Alice is fine; great acting, careful drawings; although I wonder if Davis and Clark were jealous of the other animators because they had the fun stuff; while they had the girl to work on; although I have noticed a few scenes of animators like Nordberg and Woolie actually animating one or two scenes of Alice, but they were small scenes and were shared by Les Clark; although maybe in one of the scenes showed a hand of either the Hatter or Hare; and wither Cliff or Woolie did those; but who knows-the artist credit will remain a mystery to me, I've also noticed in scenes of Alice along with hands of the Hare or Hatter showing that some of them only credit either DAVIS or CLARK.
What interests me is the fact that there are also hardly any effects animation credits at all; and I was surprised with the scenes of the cake shooting off like a rocket and becoming fireworks, and only credit "Music Room", and no effects artist which I thought was annoying, and the draft only credits two effects to George Rowley, and that was the "watch scenes"; and there is hardly any credits for the tea water effects at all.
Oh, speaking of "watch scenes", I've made another framegrabs for a particular shot; and that was the reaction show of the White Rabbit's watch; when the Mad Hatter thought that he fixed the watch; but it turns into a complete mechanical monster; and turns mad! It was animated by the unknown Cliff Nordberg; and I've always loved the scenes so much; and that's probably my favourite animation of Cliff Nordberg in this film.
Here are some framegrabs in this shot, although Woolie Reitherman is credited in this scene; and he most likely did the Mad Hatter's hand holding the clock, and slicing off the jam attached to the shut watch. But, I love how the watch quickly reacts, and the backgrounds turning from it's normal font to a reddish background; brilliant achievement and I wonder how that was ever achieved!
The line by the March Hare, "There's only one way to stop a mad-watch!", is probably the best line in movie I've heard.
I'm going to leave my windbag talk done now; and I've explained as much as I can about this sequence; and I hope it was all fun, and let's continue with this on Sunday, and hopefully I'll have my Alice mosaics finished just before Christmas.