MISCHIEF IN WONDERLAND
(c1968), Color, 76 minutes
Presented by K. Gordon Murray
Adaptation from the Fairy Tale by The Brothers Grimm
English Adaptation by Reuben Guberman (as “Rubin Guberman”)
Edited by J.R. Remy
Associate Producer: Sheldon M. Schermer
Assistant Director: Thomas Finucane
Script Clerk: Diana McAtee
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Reuben Guberman (as “Rubin Guberman”)
AUFRUHR IM SCHLARAFFENLAND
(SCANDAL IN FAIRYLAND, TROUBLE IN THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY)
(1957), West Germany, Color, 80 minutes
Directed by Otto Meyer
Executive Producer: Alfred Forster
Music by Norbert Schultze
Cast: Alexander Engel, Sabine Sesselmann, Cordula Trantow, Harry Wustenhagen, Alexa von Porembsky, Werner Kruger
MISCHIEF IN WONDERLAND is an exemplary fairy tale. It is has wit, vigor and style, and more than a touch of the supernatural. It is elemental, yet magical in its simplicity.
The film centers on the frequent, sudden appearance of bounty in the form of delicious foods, surely a primal economic fantasy for a poverty-stricken post-war culture.
The King of Wonderland is a blithering, good-hearted buffoon, with a fetching and willful pre-teen Princess/daughter. The King’s prime minister is a conniving eunuch, while the court “genius”, Astralpolix, is none other than Werner Kruger, the scary midget who also graced Murray’s RUMPELSTILTSKIN.
This attractive film is entirely studio-bound, featuring some delightful village exteriors. Action is heavily choreographed, and there are many effective crowd scenes.
Wonderland’s nearby rival, Persepania, is a swarthy Arabic culture, replete with dark-skinned robbers and slaves waving giant feather-fans.
There is only one song in the film, which is talk-sung by the King as he describes the bounty he intends to bestow on his kingdom. It is a silly tune, as silly as the man who sings it, as frivolous as his empty dreams.
MISCHIEF IN WONDERLAND is an excellent example of marchenfilm, colorfully illustrating a world of economic possibilities, the burden of felicitous power, and the responsibility of charity.
It is also strongly youth-oriented, as the elders are too fat and stupid to save their society from decay, whereas the children, at first lured by sloth and indulgence, soon see that this is surely the road to all ruin.
The King, with his gay robes and high-pitched voice, is meant to be seen as purely feminine, thus vapid and ineffectual. His daughter, though an attractive woman-child, is shown to be not only smarter than her father, but also stronger and more energetic, everything a faltering society needs to survive and rise above a crippling curse.
* This is yet another of the extrememly obscure latter Murray fairy tales. We are still unsure whether this film received a full theatrical release, or went straight to the tube. As with several of the other German fairy tales, the original production is available on home video in Germany (in PAL format).
Something Weird Video is proud to offer the first home video release of this magnificent and obscure German fairy tale, in its Murrayized dubbed version of course, from a crisp 16mm TV syndication print with outstanding color, which brings out the best in the gorgeous studio sets. Also on the tape are a gaggle of fun trailers from the golden age of the Kiddie Matinee, including obscurities like THE BRAVE LITTLE TAILOR (1969), THE ADVENTURES OF THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (1969), THE WONDERFUL LAND OF OZ (1969), THE SECRET OF MAGIC ISLAND (1967), and more!
* (06-28-04) Fan Steve Burstein informs us that composer Norbert Schultze also composed the famous popular song “Lili Marlene”.
* (06-28-04) Harald Gruenberger of germany informs us that the kingdom “Ergendwu” should read “Irgendwo” (noted!), meaning “Somewhere” or “Wherever”.
Also, there is an odd bit of casting in heroine Sabine Sesselmann, who next turned up in the lurid exploitationer LIEBE KANN WIE GIFT SEIN (directed by Veit Harlan in 1958), going from sweet teenage daughter to drug-addicted prostitute and dying in the end!
Finally, player Harry Wuestenhagen, often seen in Märchenfilmen or Edgar Wallace movies, was more noted for lending his voice to American actors.