Saturday, July 25, 2015

Original Production Model Drawing Set of the Queen of Hearts, Alice, and Playing Cards from "Alice In Wonderland," 1951

Original production model drawing set of the Queen of Hearts with rose bush in red, brown, green, and graphite pencil - Alice with three cards in red and graphite pencil - Card Guards in graphite - All from "Alice In Wonderland," 1951; All with production numbers and Disney stamps; Size - Queen of Hearts with rose bush: 8 1/4 x 7", Alice & 3 Cards: 4 x 15", Card Guards: 4 x 14 1/2", Sheets 12 1/2 x 15"; Unframed.

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (commonly shortened to "Alice in Wonderland"), is a 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Disney reworked the story to fit with both a younger audience and a time frame suitable for an animated film (it's run time is only 75 minutes). 

Model production drawing of the Queen of Hearts with a rose bush.

The Queen of Hearts was voiced by Verna Felton and most people, when you mention the Queen of Hearts from "Alice," remember hearing Verna's classic line "Off with their heads!" Ms. Felton not only voiced the Queen from "Alice" but the Fairy Godmother from "Cinderella," Flora and Queen Leah from "Sleeping Beauty," Aunt Sarah from "Lady and Tramp," and several other Disney characters. What is interesting is that all the other characters that Felton voiced are sweet and kind, with the typical grandmother type of voice; but not the Queen of Hearts. The Queen was loud and you never knew exactly when she would lose her temper.

Close up of the model production drawing of the Queen of Hearts with a rose bush.

Eric Larson, one of Walt Disney's master animators known as his Nine Old Men, supervised the scene in which this drawing was used. This is a very lively and expressive animation drawing of the Queen of Hearts and it is from the "Who's been painting my roses red?" tirade. This is an absolutely wonderful image of the Queen when she is holding a rose bush in one hand and her heart fan in the other; and screaming at both Alice and the three playing card painters. The Queen glares down at three heart playing cards and Alice. The deuce, trey and ace shift the blame from one to another, quickly exhausting the Queen's patience. "That's enough!", she declares and she quickly follows with her signature line "Off with their heads!"

Close up of the production numbers for the Queen of Hearts model drawing.

Model production drawing of Alice and the three Playing Card rose painters.

Initial design for the character of Alice was accomplished by Mary Blair during the storyboard phase and also by Les Clark. Alice was animated by Ollie Johnston and also by Marc Davis, who animated her for the tea party scene. In this drawing poor Alice is lying on the grass along with three club suited playing cards who were painting the Queen's white roses red.

Close up of the model production drawing of Alice and the three Playing Card rose painters.

Kathryn Beaumont, who was born in London England, was just 10 years old when she was chosen for the voice of Alice. Walt Disney personally cast Beaumont after seeing her in the film "On an Island with You," in which the child actress had a small role. Disney was so impressed by her that she was also chosen to be the model for Alice, and would also go on to provide the voice for Wendy in "Peter Pan," 1953. Beaumont has also reprised her voice acting role as Alice in two episodes of the animated series, Disney's "House of Mouse," and as both Alice and Wendy in the video game "Kingdom Hearts." She did not retire as the voice of Alice and Wendy until 2005, when her role for these two characters was taken over by Hynden Walch.

Close up of the production numbers on the Alice and Playing Card drawing.

Model production drawing of the Heart Playing Card Guards.

Close up of the production numbers on the Heart Playing Card Guards model drawing.

This set of three original production model drawings is absolutely fantastic! The set was created by the Walt Disney animation department during the production of "Alice In Wonderland" in 1951 in order to layout and compose this scene perfectly. Model drawing sets of this quality are very rare and their creation is reserved for key scenes in the film. In this case, the Queen of Hearts is furious that her white roses have been painted red, and she is holding up a rose bush and screaming at the three club suited playing card painters and poor Alice; who has showed up in the garden at the wrong time! All three drawings have a large number of animator notations, Walt Disney production stamps, and rendered in multi-colored and graphite pencils. The dialog for the scene is below:

Queen of Hearts: "Who's been painting my roses red? WHO'S BEEN PAINTING MY ROSES RED? Who dares to taint, with vulgar paint, the royal flower bed? For painting my roses red, someone will lose his head."
Card Painter Three of Clubs: "Oh no, your majesty, please! It's all his fault!"
Card Painter Two of Clubs: "Not me, your grace! The ace, the ace!"
Queen of Hearts: "You?"
Card Painter Ace of Clubs: "No, two!"
Queen of Hearts: "The deuce, you say?"
Card Painter Two of Clubs: "Not me! The trey!"
Queen of Hearts: "That's enough! Off with their heads!"

To view the scene which these drawings were used to create, click on the short video below: