Alice in Movieland (1940) Poster

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Every Girl's Dream - Being A Hollywood Star
ccthemovieman-113 March 2007
I never complain seeing the wholesomely-beautiful Joan Leslie, even if its just a 21-minute "short" like this one. She looked absolutely spectacular, too, in this 1940 film.

Here, Joan plays "Alice Purdee," the winner of a local beauty contest for girls, the top prize being a chance "for fame in Hollywood!" We go along with her, seeing her trials and tribulations in attempting to become a movie star.

For classic movie fans, this is terrific. Not only do we see glimpses of Hollywood (the town) circa 1940 but quick glances at couples' Alexis Smith and Craig Stevens, Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyatt, and Alan Hale. All are in the audience (supposedly) watching "Alice" make her talent show debut. Frank Faylen, by the way, plays the emcee of the talent show.

This whole thing was well-done, with some wonderful close-up photography and beautifully directed by Jean Negulesco, who went on to direct some pretty famous movies. So far, it is the best short I've seen, although it does get a bit corny the last 5-6 minutes....but a nice kind of corny.

This short film was part of the "Warner Night At the Movies" feature on "Sea Hawk" DVD. I guess they felt that appropriate since one of the first lines of this feature was, "....and don't you fall for one of those movie stars like Errol Flynn!"
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Good old Hollywood "schmaltz"
MartinHafer25 November 2006
I liked this short even though some may find it a bit too sappy and old fashioned. However, I like it because it's a wonderful eye into the idea of Hollywood from 1940--not the real city, but the way it was viewed by the wide-eyed public and how Hollywood packaged itself. Joan Leslie stars as "Alice Purdee"--a country girl who wins a local contest whose reward is a Hollywood screen test. In so many ways, this short is like a condensed version of A STAR IS BORN minus the Norman Main character. I find the whole thing very charming, as would anyone who is a fan of Hollywood's Golden Age. My bet is that newer, younger audiences will probably find it all a bit silly and over-done, but considering what the film was intended to portray, the "schmaltziness" is actually a big plus--it helps you to understand the dreams of thousands, if not millions of girls across the nation.
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Hollywood myth wrapped up in schmaltz...but still charming...
Doylenf2 November 2007
As short subjects go, ALICE IN MOVIELAND is easy to take. After all, who doesn't mind gazing at JOAN LESLIE at her prettiest, showing us all the wholesome charm that did indeed make her a movie star in the '40s under contract to Warner Bros.

But unfortunately, the script (by no less than Ed Sullivan) is a cluster of clichés--you know, the one about the kid who dreams of making it big in Hollywood and dreams about becoming the toast of the town. Leslie, enroute to Hollywood via train, falls asleep and dreams that she has this great impact on filmland after a few false starts. Her dream is all wrapped up in tinsel but is mostly a series of phony myths about Hollywood stardom for young girls.

You can glimpse a few Warner contract players throughout--including David BRUCE, CRAIG STEVENS, ALEXIS SMITH, JANE WYMAN, RONALD REAGAN, FRANK FAYLEN and ALAN HALE. But it's strictly a showcase for Joan Leslie, who plays the part of a naive girl seeking stardom. Her singing voice is obviously dubbed and her dancing is no great shakes.

In real life, Leslie had to work hard to gain stardom, appearing in numerous films in bit parts before any big breaks came her way. But the story is reminiscent of how ANN SHERIDAN got her start--by entering a beauty contest that brought her to the attention of Warner Bros.

This 21 minute short, directed by Jean Negulesco and photographed by Ted McCord, is a fun way to look at the way mythical film stardom was treated for the sake of naive movie fans back in the early '40s.
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Nice Drama
Michael_Elliott29 March 2010
Alice in Movieland (1940)

*** (out of 4)

Two-reeler from Warner about a small town girl (Joan Leslie) who arrives in Hollywood hoping to become a star but she suffers one disaster after another. When she finally gets a bit part in a film she lets her dreams go too far and this here leads to another embarrassment. This is an interesting little short for a number of reasons but the biggest is because of how painful and rather embarrassing it treats the main character. A lot of shorts were made about young girls coming to Hollywood but this one here is rather painful to watch because Leslie is so good in her role that we really start to care for it and it's rather sad seeing some of the jokes pulled on her. The film manages to have some nice backbone to it and it really has some great drama. Leslie is terrific in her role as the dreamy kid and we even get Clarence Muse as a train porter who gives her some sound advice. Alan Hale, Ronald Reagan, Craig Stevens, Alexis Smith and Jane Wyman appear in a brief scene at a club where Leslie is about to act. It's obvious the stars were filmed at other times and just edited into this film but it's still nice seeing them. Fans of older movies will certainly want to check this one out as there's a lot more soul and heart than you'd normally see in a film like this.
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Alice in Dreamland
Horst_In_Translation29 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"Alice in Movieland" is an American 22-minute black-and-white short film from 1940, so this one will soon have its 80th anniversary and depending on when you read this review maybe it already happened. Maybe you probably haven't heard of most of the crew and cast members for this one unless you really are into old films, but still most of them were pretty successful back in the day and this also definitely includes lead actress Joan Leslie. By the way, this film here did not try to cash in with the title of the famous Disney film, would have been unusual for a WB production anyway, as that one came way later. Anyway, as for this one here, it is the story of a young woman who drerams of making it big in Hollywood, but doors are shut in her face, people are constantly making fun of her and dance performances turn out unsuccessfully. And eventually, when she finally did it, reality gets in the way as the dream is collapsing. But it seems at least she learnt something from it for her real attempt at becoming famous. Well, I guess many feminists now whine about how this film sends the message that Hollywood is very shallow or was back then if winning a beauty contest is enough to give you the prospect of becoming a star, but guess what? If people did not whine back then, then don't do it now. Or try to change something as honestly under the cover of staged outrage and political pseudo-correctness, really not a lot has changed. And why not? Because perhaps things are right the way they are. Anyway, back to this film here: a fine and entertaining example of the use of dream sequences that was at least as frequent back then in films as it is today, especially in cartoons. And I quite liked Leslie's performance who was so young back then and felt so grown-up, especially her singing voice. Hardly anybody could have carried this one better I guess. The music was nice too and I liked the penultimate shot as we see her upfront climbing the stairs to her dream. All in all, a faitly decent watch, maybe 2 or 3 subtle indicators that it was all just a dream could have made this an even better and smarter watch. But without a doubt I still give this one a thumbs-up. See it.
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"If you come home before you're a movie star . . . "
oscaralbert9 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
" . . . I'll break your neck--(signed) Grandma." It's as if Auntie Em told Dorothy Gale to jump off a cliff if she could not tote the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West back to Kansas! In the 1940s, there were fewer than 100 million Americans, since so many did themselves in as they buckled under the pressure of unrealistic expectations imposed upon them by callous people like Alice Purdee's Granny here. Back then, epidemics of low self-esteem were running rampant, decimating our population. Nowadays, thanks to a revamped U.S. Public School System tailored on the Every-Kid's-A-Winner Principle, the sheer number of Americans has tripled. ALICE IN MOVIELAND makes it obvious that Ms. Purdee cannot separate Fantasy from Reality, as she yo-yo's between unrealistic highs and soul-shattering lows whether she's dreaming or awake. Alice clearly suffers from being Manic-Depressive, even if scientists had not yet discovered this condition when MOVIELAND was filmed. Though we in the 21st Century have come up with loads of Wonderful Meds to treat Alice's illness, in the 1940s she would have been doomed to suffer the crushing expectations of her grandmother, with permanent psychological trauma as a result.
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