Nerd In a Comfy Chair

A Fella and His Movie Collection…One Movie at a Time




Where Was I When I First Saw The Movie?

You may have noticed I am a nerd.

There are particular genres, and things, that I get really nerdy about.

(not necessarily in this order)












So much Stuff!

But I don’t any of my geekdom compares to the level of Geek Love that the BFF of the MRS has for ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

She has had Birthdays where everyone dresses up as their favorite character.  She has created trivia games in its honor.  She has toys, pictures, posters and massive amounts of memorabilia about Alice and her adventures.  I bet you…without hesitation ..that she can quote, verbatim, aspects of the different incarnations of the Wonderland story at any given moment.  At Disneyland…her final destination is not a meet and greet with a famous mouse.  But with the Mad Hatter.  She will ride the ALICE IN WONDERLAND over and over and over in the same way that I would ride STAR TOURS or INDIANA JONES.  I should point out that those two rides change every time you ride them.  They are meant to have random events that occur every time you do.

But the  ALICE ride?  It never changes.  Not even once.

Here’s the best part though.

I love that she has such mad geek love for ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

Who doesn’t have that ONE THING that we love (outside of family) above all other things?

We all do!

And for the MRS’ BFF…it’s ALICE.  So, you can guess that from the moment the whispers of this movie being made…calendars were set and appointments were made.  We would be there the first chance that we all got and we would be there by her side.

The place ended up being a theatre called KENT STATION.  It was the closest movie theatre showing it in IMAX 3-D…and, by gum, that was the way we HAD to see it!  And who could blame her?!

We rolled up to the theatre, got our parking and hustled out for our seats.  We were early and we were ready.  But event with all of that, when we finally got in and got our seats…the rest of the world had been even earlier.  We ended up around the front row..somewhere down on the right.  As we sat there…waiting for the credits to start.  I thought to myself, “When it comes to 3-D…this is probably not the optimal spot.  Come to think of it…probably not the best spot for a MASSIVE IMAX screen either.”

But the MRS’ BFF was in another world.  And I can only assume this is the level of excitement that I hit when I have been waiting years for a movie (STAR WARS).  She was loaded up with pop, sugar and an anticipation that would top the highest level of adrenaline before taking the hugest plunge on a roller-coaster.

She was bouncing through the credits.

She was still when it started.

Then…well, then…she was in heaven.

I would tell you how much I enjoyed the escapist nature of the movie.  I would tell you why I did like its departures.  I would tell you that I did like that it skewed darker than most, but was actually truer to the books because it did.  I would tell you that the only bit of imagery that didn’t work for me was Crispin Glover’s…because it seemed rushed.

But I won’t.

Because I honestly enjoyed watching the BFF of the MRS more than I enjoyed watching the movie…because I got to see the embodiment of joy.  The same that I always get when I take a friend to Disneyland for the first time.  When I took my eldest there for the first time.  And when I will take my youngest for the first time.  Its only (just almost) equal to the times I have taken a cherished family member to Vegas for the first time (but secretly wishing I was taking them to Disneyworld for the first time).

Because watching someone’s joy…that first moment of them feeling that nothing is going to compare to what I am about to experience.  Is like sharing that moment when you give a gift for a Birthday (or Christmas) multiplied by infinity…and I love being a part of that.

If you’ll let me.

Because I am a geek, too.

What Is It About?


Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Alice in Wonderland is a 2010 American computer-animated and live action fantasy film[5] directed by Tim Burton, written by Linda Woolverton, and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film stars Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh, as well as Johnny DeppAnne Hathaway, and Helena Bonham Carter. The film was shot in the UK and the US.

The film is inspired by English author Lewis Carroll‘s 1865 fantasy novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-GlassMia Wasikowska plays the now nineteen-year-old Alice who, 13 years after her previous visit, returns for the first time as a young woman. She is told that she is the only one who can slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon-like creature controlled by the Red Queen who terrorizes Underland’s inhabitants.

The film premiered in London at the Odeon Leicester Square on February 25, 2010, and was released in Australia on March 4, 2010, and the United States and the United Kingdom on March 5, 2010, through IMAX 3D and Disney Digital 3D, as well as in traditional theaters. Despite its short theatrical release window and mixed reviews, the film grossed over $1.02 billion worldwide. At the 83rd Academy AwardsAlice in Wonderland won for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design, as well as a nomination for Best Visual Effects. As of 2013, it is the thirteenth highest-grossing film of all time.

Troubled by a strange recurring dream and mourning the loss of her beloved father (Marton Csokas), nineteen-year-old Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) attends a garden party at Lord Ascot’s (Tim Piggott-Smith) estate, where she is confronted by an unwanted marriage proposal and the stifling expectations of the society in which she lives. Unsure of how to reply, and increasingly confused, she runs away to chase after a rabbit in a blue waistcoat, and accidentally falls into a large rabbit hole. She is transported to a world called Underland, where she is greeted by the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), the Dormouse (Barbara Windsor), the Dodo (Michael Gough), and Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas in a dual role). They argue over her identity as “the right Alice”, who it is foretold will slay the Red Queen‘s Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee) on the Frabjous Day and restore the White Queen to power. The group is then ambushed by the Bandersnatch and a group of playing-card soldiers led by the Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover) capturing the White Rabbit and the Dodo bird. Alice, Tweedledum and Tweedledee escape and flee into the woods, while the Knave steals the Oraculum and the Dormouse leaves the others with the Bandersnatch’s eye. Tweedledum and Tweedledee, however, were abducted by the Red Queen’s Jubjub bird.

The Knave informs the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) that Alice has returned and threatens her reign, and the soldiers and Bayard the Bloodhound (Timothy Spall) are ordered to find Alice immediately. Meanwhile, the wandering Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), who takes her to the March Hare (Paul Whitehouse) and the Hatter (Johnny Depp). On the way to the White Queen’s castle, Hatter relates the terror of the Red Queen’s reign, and comments that Alice is not the same as she once was. The Hatter helps Alice avoid capture by allowing himself to be seized instead. Later, Alice is found by Bayard the Bloodhound, who wishes to take her to the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), but Alice insists upon helping the Hatter, so they go to the Red Queen’s castle.

The Red Queen is unaware of Alice’s true identity and therefore welcomes her as a guest. Alice learns that the Vorpal Sword (the only weapon capable of killing the Jabberwocky) is locked away in a case inside the Bandersnatch’s den. The Knave crudely attempts to seduce Alice, but she rebuffs him. She later manages to retrieve the sword and befriend the Bandersnatch. The Knave finds her with the sword and attempts to arrest her. Alice escapes on the back of the Bandersnatch and delivers the sword to the White Queen. The Cheshire Cat saves the Hatter from execution, and the Hatter calls for rebellion against the Red Queen. The rebellion is quickly put down by the Jubjub bird. The resistance flees to the White Queen’s castle, and both armies prepare for battle. Alice remains unsure about the expectation for her to champion the White Queen, and meets with Absolem[6] the Caterpillar (Alan Rickman). He reminds Alice of her past visit to Underland (which she mistakenly called “Wonderland” at the time) thirteen years earlier, and helps give her the courage to fight the Jabberwocky and accomplish “What she must to do”, while he becomes a pupa.

When the Frabjous Day arrives, both the White and Red Queens gather their armies on a chessboard-like battlefield and send forth their chosen champions (armor-clad Alice and the Jabberwocky respectively) to decide the fate of Underland. Encouraging herself with the words of her late father, Alice manages to kill the Jabberwocky. The White Queen then banishes the Red Queen and the Knave to the Outlands, and gives Alice a vial of the Jabberwocky’s blood, which will take her home. The Hatter suggests that she could stay in Underland, but she decides that she must go back and promises that she will return.

Alice returns home, where she stands up to her family and pledges to live life on her own terms. Impressed, Lord Ascot takes her in as his apprentice, with the idea of establishing oceanic trade routes to China. As the story closes, Alice prepares to set off on a trading ship. Absolem, now a butterfly, lands on her shoulder. Alice recognizes him and greets him before he flutters away.

Why Did I HAVE to Own It?

The memory of the first time with the BFF of the MRS seeing it for the first time.

The visual aspects of it.

And…the performances of adults knowing they are making one of the ultimate bits of Children’s Theatre that they can share with their own kids.  Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter..Tim Burton…squarely in the driver’s seat for their kids.

How Are The Extras?

There is a LOT here.  A TON of Features that will walk you through every single thing about the movie if you have the time to play with them all.  Its quite the rabbit hole to journey down into!

  • Disc 2
  • Finding Alice The Mad Hatter
    The Futterwacken Dance
    The Red Queen
    Time-Lapse: Sculpting the Red Queen
    The White Queen
    Scoring Wonderland
    Effecting Wonderland
    Stunts Of Wonderland
    Making the Proper Size
    Cakes of Wonderland
    Tea Party Props1-Disc DVD

    Finding Alice
    The Mad Hatter
    Effecting Wonderland

What Format Do I Have It In?

BLURAY…its too gorgeous not to!


Coming Attractions


Click to See What’s Next in the Collection!





Where Was I When I First Saw The Movie?

Here’s the part where I get to point out that I might be a little older than some of you.  When I was…I think 10 or 12 – somewhere in there…there was no way to see movies like THE AFRICAN QUEEN unless you:

(1) Have an INTEREST in watching the movie or show

(2) Look them up in a published relic called The TV GUIDE

(3) Found out the EXACT time that they were playing

(4) Sat in front of the TV Set and watched it.

Now, bear in mind, that if you had a VCR at that time…you were rolling in money.  They were about a $1,200.00-$1,500.00 proposition.  And, to say the least, my family was not rich.

So, here I am…I’m about 10 or 12…and, although I loved the black and white monsters movies, Chaplin, Keaton, et al, anything else in that period of film had not really piqued my interest.  My Dad hadn’t introduced me to them.  My Mom just watched sports (mainly basketball), my Grandfather was too busy introducing me to all things fantasy and my brother?  Not even going there.

To be honest…movies like this were not even on my radar.

Then Dad took us to Las Vegas for the second time.

I pretty sure it was our second time.  I remember Circus Circus the first time when I was 8 or 9.  I remember eating at a place that was circling the center of the Casino down below…and acrobats whizzing through the air as people gambled.  Yup…as they gambled.  I also remember Dad hitting a machine for $1,000.00 during dinner.  My hopes of VCR were coming to life.

We never got the VCR that year…and I have no idea what happened to the grand.

But this is about the second time time to Vegas.  We must have stayed at the MGM Grand Casino…if that’s what it was called then.  Because I remember a Kid’s Area downstairs filled with Pinball Machines.  We spent most of our time there, while Mom and Dad were “somewhere else.”

Think about *that* happening today.  A 12 year old and a 15 year old (my big brother) left in a Casino area on their own.  My parents would never hear the end of it and I would have been interviewed on CNN.

But alone we were…and I was free to explore.

On the edge of the Pinball Machine section was a entrance that was made up to look like an art deco movie theatre.  I wandered in and my life changed.

It was a small room with movies being projected against the far wall.  The seating was, I kid you know, three person seater couches.  And there was 10 of them.  Only 10.

The theatre as empty and it was showing, what I later found out, to be THE MALTESE FALCON (Yup…its in the collection).

I plopped down and never left.

For three movies.  After FALCON  was CASABLANCA…and after that was THE AFRICAN QUEEN.

I had found my new hero and his name was Humphrey Bogart.

He was a hero…but broken.  He was tough…but vulnerable.  You could see everything flicker across his eyes in a moment.  All of the betrayal, the love and…for the first time in QUEEN…a shock…JOY!

I stayed in there for well over five hours.

My parents never looked for me once.

I am blessed they never did…because my life was forever changed by those movies.  Humphrey Bogart became the reason I wanted to be an actor (and Monty Python a comedian).  Someday, I told myself, I would do roles like Bogart.

And, as it turned out, I did.

And once?  As Bogart himself in PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM…and it would be my community theatre debut at 16.

John Huston was another story…He would later become one of my reasons for being a director…because my father loved him so.

What Is It About?

Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The African Queen is a 1951 adventure film adapted from the 1935 novel of the same name by C. S. Forester.[4] The film was directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel[5] andJohn Woolf. The screenplay was adapted by James Agee, John Huston, John Collier and Peter Viertel. It was photographed in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff and had a music score by Allan Gray. The film stars Humphrey Bogart (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor – his only Oscar), and Katharine Hepburn with Robert MorleyPeter BullWalter GotellRichard Marnerand Theodore Bikel.[6]

The African Queen has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, with the Library of Congress deeming it “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.

The film currently holds a 100% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 37 reviews.[7]

Production censors objected to several aspects of the original script, which included the two characters cohabiting without the formality of marriage. Some changes were made before the film was completed.[8] Another change followed the casting of Bogart; his character’s lines in the original screenplay were rendered with a thick Cockney dialect but the script had to be completely rewritten because the actor was unable to reproduce it.

The film was partially financed by John and James Woolf of Romulus Films, a British company. The Woolf brothers provided £250,000[9] and were so pleased with the completed movie that they talked John Huston into directing their next picture, Moulin Rouge (1952).

Much of the film was shot on location in Uganda and the Congo in Africa. This was rather novel for the time, especially for a technicolor picture which utilized large unwieldy cameras. The cast and crew endured sickness, and spartan living conditions during their time on location. In one scene, Hepburn was playing a piano but had a bucket nearby because she was often sick between takes. Bogart later bragged that he was the only one to escape illness, which he credited to not drinking any water on location, but instead fortifying himself from the large supply of whiskey he had brought along with him.

About half of the film was shot in England. For instance, the scenes in which Bogart and Hepburn are seen in the water were all shot in studio tanks at Isleworth Studios, Middlesex. These scenes were considered too dangerous to shoot in Africa. All of the foreground plates for the process shots were also done in studio.[10]

The scenes in the reed-filled riverbank were filmed in Dalyan, Turkey. [11]

Most of the action takes place aboard a boat – the African Queen of the title – and scenes on board the boat were filmed using a large raft with a mockup of the boat on top. Sections of the boat set could be removed to make room for the large Technicolor camera. This proved hazardous on one occasion when the boat’s boiler – a heavy copper replica – almost fell on Hepburn. It was not bolted down since it also had to be moved to accommodate the camera. The small steam-boat used in the film to depict the African Queen was built in 1912, in England, for service in Africa. At one time it was owned by actor Fess Parker.[12] In December 2011, plans were announced to restore the boat.[13] Restoration was completed by the following April and the African Queen is now on display as a tourist attraction at Key LargoFlorida.[14]

Because of the dangers involved with shooting the rapid scenes, a model was created at the studio tank in London.

The German gunboat in the film, the Königin Luise, was inspired by the former World War I vessel MV Liemba (known until 1924 as the Graf von Götzen), which was scuttled in 1916 during the Battle for Lake Tanganyika, but was subsequently refloated by the British and continues to operate as a passenger ferry to this day. The actual vessel used in the film to portray theLouisa was the steam tug Buganda, owned and operated on Lake Victoria by East African Railways & Harbours.


Why Did I HAVE to Own It?


It was my way to go to school.  My way to remember a trip to Vegas with my Dad and Mom.  A way to remember the freedom I felt that day.

And it also became a way to study the directing style of John Huston..  Mr. Huston was Dad’s favorite director because he directed THE TREASURE of the SIERRA MADRE – One of three movies that Dad put extremely high on his list.

Huston knew how to direct tension..he knew how to find the honesty in a comedic moment, too.  I learned a lot from him…and glad for every second.


How Are The Extras?

The Documentary Feature EMBRACING CHAOS: MAKING THE AFRICAN QUEEN – This is how it should be done, folks.  A documentary that is so comprehensive that it will make you feel like you were part of the process when they were filming this magnificent movie on location and on the set.  The details about everything…from development to production to release…PHENOMENAL!

A Masters Class on Film!


What Format Do I Have It In?


So gorgeous…what a transfer.  The color has never been seen like this before.  Every previous version has shown the age inside the film stock, but this loving restoration is beyond compare!


Coming Attractions


Click to See What’s Next in the Collection!

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Nerd In a Comfy Chair

A Fella and His Movie Collection...One Movie at a Time

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