Alice Adams - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Alice Adams Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 19, 2013
Booth Tarkington's book about class distinctions came out in 1922. The George Stevens' movie in 1935. As I write its 2013. That's a lot of water under the bridge, as they say. Kate Hepburn's character, a young woman desperate to bridge the class gulf society has set for her, willing to do all in her power to cross that divide ... I found shallow and despicable. She lies, she puts her family through hell, all to "get" oblivious MacMurray (as the objet d'desire), who never seems to question her endless machinations. The dinner scene, the height of tension in the film, where everything goes wrong, is still the best thing about the work. Maybe they should remake it ... ?
Super Reviewer
½ October 22, 2010
A nice little slice of life drama of a poor girl who dreams her family is wealthy and important. Of course, the ending is predictable as most romantic movies are, but it's still an enjoyable drama.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
½ April 4, 2007
the definition of a gentle film
Super Reviewer
½ July 4, 2007
Although Katherine Hepburn is noted for her later films with Spender Tracy, I actually like her performances in the 30s better. This film and the original version of Little Women are some of the best performances that Katherine ever gave.
½ August 12, 2015
An early film by director George Stevens. it features Katharine Hepburn at her most innocent and charming. She is the best reason to watch it, and it does have something to say about people's perception of themselves in society. It looks a little awkward today,but it still is a worthy classic.
½ November 15, 2013
"young people should leave there troubles to the old ones, and concentrate on good times", how can i not like this movie ha! This film really shows how our culture has changed. Katharine hepburn is a fine actress but not very attractive to me, and certainly not when compared with her daughter. A feel good film where you root for poor (literally and figuratively) Alice.
February 23, 2011
Such a silly story but so much fun. Hepburn shows the beginning of her amazing talent here. Rest of the cast is great too. Am I the only one who thinks that Kristen Stewart looks a lot like a young Katherine Hepburn? Maybe its just me.
½ July 22, 2010
This was a lot more interesting than I expected it to be. I wasn't ever sure whether it was going to turn out to be a sad movie (a desperate drama kind of thing) or something more upbeat. I like Katharine Hepburn, and here she was a fascinating character, a lot of fun. She reminded me of an Anne of Green Gables kind of character. It was enjoyable, but a guilty pleasure movie. I'm not going to argue that it was brilliant or really well-written, but, like most decent romantic comedies, I liked the characters and wanted them to do well, and it was emotionally satisfying when it ended nicely.
½ July 22, 2010
Deeply Uncomfortable, As It Should Be

In many ways, Alice may well be the most pathetic character Katharine Hepburn ever played. This is, however, not entirely surprising. Hepburn made a career of playing strong, forceful women, and Alice isn't either. She's pushy, but that's not quite the same. For one thing, Alice isn't driven by self-assurance. Alice is driven by the exact opposite. She moves too much and speaks too loudly, and it's hard to tell if she knows it or not. Everyone else does, but she's so caught up in who she is, who she wants to be, and who people think she is that she doesn't really have time to focus on any of them. What she is doing is attempting to project who she thinks people want her to be, and there's something pretty desperate and sad about that. Especially because she doesn't entirely know what the people she emulates want her to be like.

Alice lives in stereotypical Small Town America from about a hundred years ago. She is middle class with aspirations. Her father, Virgil (Fred Stone), is a clerk and has been for twenty years. Her mother (Ann Shoemaker), who never gets a first name, is a horrible, horrible snob, and she wants Virgil to leave his good-paying job, where he's being paid even though he's out on ill-defined sick leave, and get a better job doing no one seems to be sure what. Meanwhile, Alice is fluttering away at a high-class party where no one will talk to her and none of the men are interested in her. She does, however, catch the eye of Arthur Russell (Fred MacMurray), who shows interest in finding out what's under the birdlike exterior. She knows that he's rich, and she knows that he's high-class, and she fears that he won't like her if he doesn't think she is, too. So she puts on a ludicrous false face in order to win his affections, which she already has anyway.

It is not at all difficult to see where Alice gets her attitude. Much of what her mother says in the first ten or fifteen minutes of the movie is heart-stoppingly snobbish. She is about the most horrible woman to her husband, whether he realizes it or not. She blames him for all of the family's problems. It's his fault Alice can't have nice dresses and be like the Rich Girls. She has to wear a dress from two years ago! And okay, Walter (Frank Albertson), their son, isn't the best. When Alice is at her fancy party, to which she's dragged him, he's in a closet, playing craps. He knows he isn't happy there, which is good, but he doesn't even have his father's standards. He's not really interested in hard work. On the other hand, Alice has basically been programmed to belief that life is going to work out better for her and she'll be a part of that upper class someday, and they'll have to take her seriously then!

And meanwhile, all through this, Fred MacMurray is kind of being genial and dreamy. It is, as I think I've mentioned before, kind of hard for me to take him seriously as a romantic lead, as I was well into adulthood before I saw him in anything not actually from the fine people at Walt Disney Studios. As in, I saw [i]Double Indemnity[/i] for the first time a few years ago. (There may have been something before then, but if there is, I couldn't tell you what.) Of course, Alice wouldn't have the Absent-Minded Professor on a dare, and Lem Siddons would be too busy with his Boy Scouts to haul any girls around to dances. It's also interesting to note how different that disastrous dinner party would have been in a Disney movie. While it would be played for laughs either way, here, you are mostly watching the death of Alice's pretensions, and whether that's good or bad is almost a matter of debate. It isn't wacky. It just kind of hurts.

In a way, that's a good summary of the movie as a whole. Alice, after all, is not from a poor family. She's not from a vulgar family. In fact, it's only when she tries too hard that the vulgarity arises. She tries to put together a fancy dinner party, but they aren't equipped for it or used to the food. Her mother makes "caviar sandwiches" to surprise her. They've hired Malena Burns (poor Hattie McDaniel), a woman who hires out for a night or two, but they've never had a servant before and don't know how you deal with having one. One rather feels that, had Alice been more natural, the dinner would have gone better. After all, she made her poor father wear full evening clothes, and Arthur is wearing just an ordinary suit. Really, being herself would have been the way to go. However, her mother pressed into her for years that who they were wasn't good enough for the people they knew. Therefore, if she wanted to have a Worthy Man, he must be a rich man, and if she wanted to be herself worthy of a Worthy Man, she must seem higher class than she is. She is never comfortable in her own home and her own skin, and it is her tragedy.
½ February 9, 2010
Not the best early Hepburn movie, but Kate was fantastic in it. The story isn't particularly great, but it has a lot of funny moments and Kate really did a good job with the material.
October 11, 2007
Supid girls can be very annoying, but I was suprised at how much empathy I felt for her, and especially her father. Good people just trying to make their way in the world. Katie Hepburn is fantastic, of couse, I think one of the most engaging screen actors ever.
December 27, 2015
Katharine Hepburn plays a young girl whose family is at the low-end of the social scene in their town, thanks to her father's loyalty to a local business. Still, a young man gets interested and Alice's attempts to play-up her family's situation are both laugh-out-loud funny and tragic all at once. Any Jane Austen fans will recognize the same witty satire of the upper class, and those who try too hard penetrate it.
½ August 12, 2015
An early film by director George Stevens. it features Katharine Hepburn at her most innocent and charming. She is the best reason to watch it, and it does have something to say about people's perception of themselves in society. It looks a little awkward today,but it still is a worthy classic.
½ November 15, 2013
"young people should leave there troubles to the old ones, and concentrate on good times", how can i not like this movie ha! This film really shows how our culture has changed. Katharine hepburn is a fine actress but not very attractive to me, and certainly not when compared with her daughter. A feel good film where you root for poor (literally and figuratively) Alice.
February 6, 2013
If only they were able to keep the ending Hepburn and director George Stevens had wanted, Alice not winning the man and having to go out and fend for herself in the world. Sure it's not romantic and isn't the cookie cutter happy ending such films were used to but it would have made one hell of an ending. Hepburn plays the subdued and doughy eyed Alice Adams who must rise above her family's financial situation to bag herself a man, competing with the likes of other young women who come from families of wealth and privilege. Classic comedic scene at the dinner table makes this an entrancing oldie.
Super Reviewer
January 19, 2013
Booth Tarkington's book about class distinctions came out in 1922. The George Stevens' movie in 1935. As I write its 2013. That's a lot of water under the bridge, as they say. Kate Hepburn's character, a young woman desperate to bridge the class gulf society has set for her, willing to do all in her power to cross that divide ... I found shallow and despicable. She lies, she puts her family through hell, all to "get" oblivious MacMurray (as the objet d'desire), who never seems to question her endless machinations. The dinner scene, the height of tension in the film, where everything goes wrong, is still the best thing about the work. Maybe they should remake it ... ?
ElCochran90
Super Reviewer
August 24, 2011
Katherine Hepburn is a shining sun from beginning to end, giving away one of the finest female performances of the 30s in American cinema. Personally, I have always loathed the "family is money" motto and similar thinking; the characters in Alice Adams are not necessarily agreeing with that mentality, but rather see it as a way of surviving in a stupid society that ranks you according to your wealth and useless etiquette mannerisms and modals. Things haven't changed much since then.

98/100
December 14, 2012
I expected more from the great Hepburn, but she did manage to broke my heart at some times...
½ August 4, 2012
With a very young Katharine Hepburn, this story seems as common as the ages, but surprisingly hasn't been done to death. After all, when trying to muddle through a charade of pretending to be rich and distinguished, there's always the chance that the person you're doing it for really doesn't care.
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