Alice in den Städten (Alice in the Cities) (1974)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Phillip is a roving German reporter who, after a chance encounter with an elusive American woman, reluctantly accepts temporary custody of little Alice. Phillip takes Alice in hand on a trek across Germany to locate the girl's grandmother.
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Rüdiger Vogler
as Phil Winter
Edda Kochi
as Edda
Chuck Berry
as Himself
Hans Hirschmuller
as Police officer
Lisa Kreuzer
as Alice's Mother
Edda Köchl
as Friend in New York
Ernest Boehm
as Publisher
Sam Presti
as Car Dealer
Wim Wenders
as Man by Jukebox
Lois Moran
as Airport Hostess
Didi Petrikat
as Friend in Frankfurt
Hans Hirschmüller
as Police officer
Ernest Bohm
as The Agent
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Critic Reviews for Alice in den Städten (Alice in the Cities)

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (2)

With this film, Wenders crystallized his style of existential sentimentality.

Full Review… | August 23, 2015
New Yorker
Top Critic

There are points when the director allows his voice to ring a little loudly from behind the camera, but the richness and depth of both the photography and the characterisation manage to brush any signs of preachiness and sentimentality from view.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

a simple story beautifully and poignantly told

Full Review… | June 16, 2016
Q Network Film Desk

Wenders' salient, head-clearing travelogue

Full Review… | November 25, 2011

Only just barely.

November 28, 2008

It takes a long time for Wenders to get where he wants to go but it's worth the wait... .

Full Review… | September 5, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Alice in den Städten (Alice in the Cities)

It's easy to imagine complaints that "nothing happens" in this nearly two-hour film from the young Wim Wenders, but its pacing is so perfect -- exactly as slow as the story requires, but not a minute slower -- that I only marveled at its confident, expert direction. Philip Winter (Rudiger Vogler, who played the same character in five Wenders films spanning 20 years) is a German journalist visiting America to write a story about his impressions. But his muse has let him down, and instead he finds himself just snapping endless Polaroid photos. (Seasoned Wenders fans will note his steady motif of characters fixated on capturing reality through a camera.) When the airport tells Philip that his flight home is delayed, he meets two other stranded Germans: an attractive woman named Lisa and her nine-year-old daughter Alice. After Lisa and Philip strike up a friendship, Lisa says she has unfinished business with Alice's nearby father and -- rather implausibly, yes -- hands Alice over to Philip and tells them to fly overseas without her. She'll catch up later. From there, the story rests almost entirely upon Philip and Alice (Yella Rottlander). The script does not make any great demands on Rottlander (whose acting career included only three other roles), but she is a relaxed, natural presence. Just an ordinary kid, minus any exaggerated spunk or wit. When Lisa does not arrive in Amsterdam as scheduled, Philip and Alice are forced to live as temporary companions. Philip has little money and can scarcely provide for himself, much less for a young girl who's typically self-absorbed and oblivious to budget concerns. But the two bond anyway, and the script does a nice job of portraying them as equals and avoiding the situation's potential creepiness (though it's a safe bet that, if this film were made today, Rottländer wouldn't casually walk around shirtless). Philip remains kind and patient with Alice, but understandably becomes nervous about the possibility of being saddled with an abandoned child. Alice's mention of a grandmother sends them on a rental-car journey to find her, but weak knowledge of the woman's name or whereabouts means the search is difficult. Until the very end, it's unclear whether the story will firmly resolve or just fade away (but, hey, that final shot is a snazzy reverse-zoom). Krautrock legends Can perform the score, though it's not impressive and lacks the band's typical groove. "Alice in the Cities" also has what may be the least likely Chuck Berry cameo ever, though it's obvious that Wenders just borrowed some Berry concert footage and used cross-cuts to simulate his actors sitting in the audience.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

The innocent curiosity of a child against the cynicism and disinterest of an adult. All about rambling, clashing and finally bonding. Beautiful film.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

there are many films in this genre going back at least as far as chaplin's 'the kid.' i'll still say without hesitation that this is my favorite. great chemistry between the two lead characters, fascinating references, the director's choice of b&w and wonderful filming locations are all just part of it. there are some truly lovely scenes here and wenders manages never to stray too far into sentimentality, a common pitfall of films on this theme, including chaplin's. here's a handful of odd and magical moments: tho phillip seems bored with america, on his return to germany we see him at a chuck berry concert drinking coca-cola. great use is made of the wuppertal schwebebahn, an early floating monorail. a small boy on a bike races their car through one of the towns in the ruhr district. the touching final scene, shot first from inside, then outside a train. note: the film has been difficult to find in the u.s., which is a pity. it's currently streaming at hulu plus. see it while u can.

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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