My Alice in Wonderland Quest is Half Over

But first something to make your day. It’s snippets of people caught on those cars cams that everyone has in Russia. God, I wish we had those here. I’d love what gets caught on them. In this case people are caught doing something good.

As a future little old lady I need to know what is up with old ladies and crossing streets? Why do they need help? Is it a sight issue? Either vision loss or depth of field? A dementia issue, perhaps? Why do they need help?? They look perfectly mobile. I don’t understand.

Now to my Alice in Wonderland quests. For my entire life I’ve been singing a few lines from a song I heard once when I was a child. Once! It was from a movie version of Alice in Wonderland, and singing the only two lines I remember and humming the rest has always made me happy. Finding this movie one of the first things I thought of when the internet finally started to catch on, and when IMDB was founded. I had faith that someday it would show up, or information about it, and I would finally be able to hear the song again, and also learn the rest of the words. I searched for it every few years or so. Last night, I found it.

But I need your help. I can’t understand some of the words. My problems start the second time she sings “I’m upside down, I’m downside up.” Then, “At last I’m having my way, the rules for what I ought and [ought to] are unimportant today. Life was slow when low was low and high was always high. Till I found the roof on the ground, a [something] in the sky. I’m upside down, I’m downside up, as far as I can foresee, this most incredible, [un-incredible] wonderland will be, upside down like you and me.”

I’m not sure about the words in the square brackets, and in one case I have no guesses at all. Please listen and see if you can discern them better than I! Also, thank you Sol Kaplan and Edward Eliscu. They wrote the music and lyrics. I wish I had found this song sooner. Sol and Edward died in 1990 and 1998. I could have sent them fan letters. Oh, I see someone named Henry Myers is credited as well. He was a writer so he must have contributed to the lyrics. Thank you Henry Myers.

The second half of my quest involves another Alice in Wonderland movie version. This one is going to be harder because I only remember a few seconds, but it was a few seconds that so captivated me I’ve been wanting to see them again ever since. For those who have actually read the books, there’s one where Alice follows a rabbit down a rabbit hole and one where she goes through a looking-glass. This movie version was made from the looking-glass story. Alice is playing with a small white kitten when a playing card come to life on a table. They talk a little, and then Alice goes through the looking-glass (aka mirror). I saw it around 1963, so it had to have been made before then.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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19 thoughts on “My Alice in Wonderland Quest is Half Over

  1. What I hear for your brackets “oughtn’t” “cellar” and “unincredible”

  2. As for the second part, IMDB shows an animated version was released in 1951 that can be rented or purchased through amazon.

  3. Ought and oughtn’t to do

    second one might be ceiling – but only as a best guess. Edward Eliscu and Henry Myers wrote lots of other songs that have drifted into obscurity.

    Disney had this movie supressed so it wouldn’t compete with his version.

  4. in re: the little old ladies, I would guess it’s mostly a speed/stability issue. A younger person would just dart across those intersections when there were gaps in traffic, but older people with or without walkers can’t move as fast or chance falls. Plus stopping traffic one way with your car helps, and then a second person helping them across just increases visibility.
    Sometimes older people are also perfectly mobile, but need a bit of extra support or stability (especially before they give in and start using canes or walkers when necessary), especially when moving quickly across streets or on sidewalks.

  5. David, what are Edward Eliscu and Henry Myers best songs? Let’s rescue them!

    And cellar makes total sense. I heard ceiling too but that made no sense, cellar is totally it! And I agree it’s oughn’t to do.

    Thank you!!

    And the speed/stability issue makes total sense. Even now I’ve begun to rethink whether I should dart across, thinking I’m not the dart-er I used to be.

  6. The rules for what I ought and oughtn’t
    Are not important today

    Till I found the roof on the ground, the cellar in the sky

    This most incredible on-its-head-able Wonderland will be

  7. Maybe I’m just a sentimental twit but that webcam video made me cry. Thanks for posting it.

  8. It makes me well up.

    And thank you FP, it’s definitely “on-its head-able.” I never thought what I thought I was hearing made sense or was particularly clever, which most of the song is, and that totally works and is clever!!

  9. Thanks for posting this. I’d rented the DVD a few years back wondering if this very song was part of the movie or an imagined childhood memory, but the print was atrocious, and I gave up, apparently just before it came on.

    In NYC, this version of Alice was shown every Easter (on WPIX?), as I recall, and this is the only song I can remember from it. In fact, the only line I could recall was “I’m upside down, I’m downside up.”

    Others have answered the lyrics questions you posed, so thanks again.

  10. Hi! I grew up on Long Island, so I saw it on WPIX as well! I wish the people who wrote the song were still alive, so I could write them and tell them what an impression their song had on me.

  11. I have wanted to know the lyrics to this song every since I was little and I’m so glad I found your blog! I can’t believe that my quest is now over too! However, there is one change I would make. Instead of “cellar in the sky” I believe it is “sailor in the sky”. Seems more fitting since they are in the “ocean”.

  12. I saw someone accessed my site from the link on here and since I’m pretty familiar with Alice adaptations, I would be glad to help in identifying the one you mentioned at the end of your post.

    I can’t say I know of a version where Alice talks to a /playing card/ before going through a mirror. But I do know one in which a chess piece comes to life. It sounds similar to what you described but Alice has no cat and it was aired in 1966.

    If that’s not it, then I’d like to clarify if it definitely was in 1963 or around then, if it was in color or not, what was your location, and if you remember what Alice looked like (that can be very helpful sometimes).

    And someone above suggested 1955 (directed by George Schaefer): I was able to see it in an archive. Alice has a kitten and goes through a mirror, but no playing cards come alive while doing so. Additionally, I haven’t heard whether it re-aired in the 60’s.

    Finally, on the Alice film you were able to find (1949), I’m pleased to hear that it had such an effect on you as a child. It’s underrated and the film-makers had put so much effort into it; it’s a shame that it’s virtually unknown. It was filmed in both English and French. Unfortunately, the English copies out there have been severely edited and are in bad shape. I was fortunate to find the French version which is very high quality compared to the available English prints ( There are some interesting differences like the Mouse actually sings “I’m Upside-Down” with her! My friend and I mean to caption it in English soon. I’m still on the look out for a better English version.

  13. The rules for what I ought and oughtn’t
    Are unimportant today

    Til I found my roof on the ground and ‘sill’ on in the sky

    There was a reprise of the song which is cut out of this video,

    Life was sad when all you had was everyday routine
    So instead I stand on my head
    And what a change in scene

    I am rembering this from childhood because I was crazy for the soprano aspect of the song.

  14. Thank you! I also saw it once, as a child, and went crazy for this song! I wish the people who wrote it were still alive so I could thank them.

  15. Congratulations on finishing your project!! And how cool that you have a copy of the screenplay. I still love this movie and the music. Thank you for the link!!

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