There's no denying that the painted sets and cheesy costumes are quite dated, but that's to be expected, even from one of the most expensive network specials from 1966. More than four decades later, most adult audiences will only recognize about a third of the actors, but unsurprisingly, young kids won't care. The costumes, the singing, and the live-studio audience don't take away from the charm of Alice's journey through Looking Glass Land.
It's wonderful to see the late Montalban, best known to those under-50 as Mr. Roarke, Khan, and the grandpa in Spy Kids, who was actually an accomplished musical-theater performer early in his nearly-70-year career. The always-funny Smothers Brothers, a creepy Palance, and legendary Durante are also a treat, and English entertainer Castle is particularly memorable as a Jester who helps Alice. Rolin, the actress who plays Alice, isn't as impressive as the all-star supporting cast, but she looks the part, and that's enough. This is not the definitive adaptation of Carroll's story, but it's an appealing throwback to a time when networks put on original family-friendly productions.