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“Alice in Wonderland” through the years.

“Alice in Wonderland” through the years. (photo)

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Screenwriter John August‘s reliably insightful blog caused a stir yesterday with a post about the misconception that he wrote the latest adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic. It’s an understandable mistake, since August has collaborated on four films with “Alice” director Tim Burton, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Big Fish.”

But then, he proceeds to explain the “recurring motif” of working on other “Alice”-related projects, like the rave sequence in “Go,” a Wes Craven-directed version of American McGee’s video game “Alice” and a Sam Mendes take that would’ve incorporated Carroll’s real life into the fantasy.

Those last two projects never actually came to fruition, and August jokes that he expects to go back through the looking glass around 2025 to finish the job. He wouldn’t be the first to return to Wonderland. With the Burton version, Disney is returning to the well after first making the 1951 animated classic, but others who have done double duty include Sammy Davis Jr., who played the Cheshire Cat in an animated 1966 production and went on to play the Caterpillar in the 1985 musical version, and Peter Sellers, a veteran of 1966 and 1972 productions as the King of Hearts and the March Hare, respectively.

The imagination that’s kept “Alice in Wonderland” such an enduring story has also made it ripe for adaptation by filmmakers of all stripes. Here’s a sampling of some of the more unusual adaptations over the past 100 years.

Percy Stow and Cecil M. Hepworth’s “Alice in Wonderland” (1903)

It didn’t take too long after the creation of film itself for filmmakers to start imagining how to bring “Alice” to the big screen. At the time of its release, Stow and Hepworth’s 12-minute epic was the longest film in British history and was usually chopped up into individual sequences when it was projected at cinematheques.

Norman Z. McLeod’s “Alice in Wonderland” (1933)

Although most productions have deferred the star power to Carroll’s colorful characters, this Paramount-produced version was a star-studded affair, featuring the likes of Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle, Gary Cooper as the White Knight and W.C. Fields as a cannily cast Humpty Dumpty, though he’s buried underneath piles of makeup. Future “All About Eve” writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz combined Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” to allow for the enormous ensemble room to play.

Dallas Bower’s “Alice in Wonderland” (1949)

Through their lawyers, Disney actually put the kibosh on Bower’s version from being released in America since the studio thought it would compete with their own film in 1951, but nowadays, one can see that Bower’s version is a completely different experience. Featuring the stop-motion animation of puppeteer Lou Bunin, the film is a trippy, not to mention colorful, rendering of Carroll’s tale that adds in musical numbers and hews closely to the source material while not suffering from a lot of clutter.

Bill Osco’s “Alice in Wonderland” (1976)

Last weekend during Jason Reitman’s guest programming run at the New Beverly, special guest William H. Macy won over the crowd with NSFW stories about “Boogie Nights” co-star (and real-life adult film star) Nina Hartley before a screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s film. Still, he was no match for the laughs elicited by the all-too appropriate accompanying trailer for this softcore “Alice in Wonderland,” which boasts the tagline “the world’s favorite bedtime story… that’s finally a bedtime story” and probably the only adult film to have any kind of Oscar affiliation with music from “Funny Lady” conductor Peter Matz.

Jan Švankmajer’s “Alice” (1988)

Even though many creative liberties are taken with the original Lewis Carroll text, it’s likely if Tim Burton looked at any of the previous “Alices” for his new adaptation, it was this one from the Czech master animator who made his feature debut with this live action/stop-motion hybrid that takes a serious tack towards Alice’s fragile psyche and makes use of dolls and everyday objects to recount her adventure.

Daniel Díaz Torres’ “Alicia en el Pueblo de Maravillas” (1991)

Admittedly this Cuban satire falls into the category of “inspired by…” films that includes everything from Roman Polanski’s 1972 oddity “What?” to the “Resident Evil” franchise. But only “Alice in Wondertown” has the distinction of being banned in its home country due to its criticism of the Cuban bureaucracy that keeps them isolated from the rest of the world, though the film itself traveled well beyond Havana, even to the Berlin Film Festival where it won a Freedom Prize. “Alicia” is a school teacher who witnesses the decay of a village where surreal imagery becomes the norm for its population of disgraced bureaucrats who try entertaining themselves to kill the time.

[Photo: Nathan Bexton and Sarah Polley in “Go,” Columbia Pictures, 1999]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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