Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)

alice doesnt live here anymore poster 1974 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Perfect cast and looks great

Would love to see the 3 hour version

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s):  December 9, 1974

MPAA Rating:  PG

alice doesnt live here anymore flo vera diane ladd ellen burstyn valerie curtin

I love how Vera clearly doesn’t know they are all laughing about (but is enjoying it).

Widowed Alice Hyatt (Ellen Burstyn) hits the road with her son Tommy (Alfred Lutter) with plans of Monterey.  When a pit-stop in Phoenix goes bad, Alice finds herself forced to take a waitressing job in Tucson to make ends meet. Alice questions if her life as working and meeting a new man in David (Kris Kristofferson) could mean she could be stuck again.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a comedy-drama.  Following Scorsese’s Mean Streets in 1973, the movie was released to critical acclaim and received an Academy Award for Best Actress (Burstyn) with nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Diane Ladd) and Best Original Screenplay.  The film served as the basis for the TV sitcom Alice which ran from 1976-1985.

alice doesnt live here anymore water fight ellen burstyn alfred lutter

Who’s the adult here?

I loved Alice growing up.  It was one of those shows that was always in reruns at the time and had a memorable opening (“There’s a New Girl in Town”).  I remember learning it was a movie later and being confused all over again when the comedy and drama mixed.  Despite this, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a great movie I love for different reasons than the TV show.

The movie has a strange pacing.  While you generally think back about the film, you think about the diner.  The diner isn’t introduced until almost an hour into the story and the film begins with Alice’s dull life and then dangerous “new” life with Harvey Keitel (playing a great, scary guy).  The relationship and characters of the film drive it, and though there is a common continuing theme of Alice questioning make a life for herself or deciding to settle, it is the little relationships and interactions that make the film.

alice doesnt live here anymore jodie foster alfred lutter

Tucson’s the weird capital of the world… WEIRD.

As a result, the movie is a real actors’ film.  Ellen Burstyn really brings life to Alice, and I love her interactions with Alfred Lutter who plays her son (Lutter also played the role again for Alice pilot but was replaced by Philip McKeon).  Kris Kristofferson plays his typical Kris Kristofferson role as Alice’s love interest and Vic Tayback, Valerie Curtin, and Diane Ladd make up the workers at Mel’s diner (Vic Tayback did continue the role in the TV series while Diane Ladd played Belle in seasons 4-5…as a replacement for the Flo character played by Polly Holliday).  Jodie Foster plays Lutter’s troublesome friend and there is also a small cameo by Diane Ladd’s young daughter Laura Dern who is a customer in a scene in the diner.

alice doesnt live here anymore bathroom ellen burstyn diane ladd

So that Polly lady took “Kiss my grits…I’m thinking butter my biscuits?” You like?

Martin Scorsese brings his gritty realism to a comedy which is unusual (especially if you saw Mean Streets).  The movie starts with an ode to the sepia colored opening of The Wizard of Oz and then goes into modern style.  It still has the same feel and look as Scorsese’s other pictures from the time…but with more laughs.  It is a fun flashback to the 1970s and a dusty (affordable) way of living that seems to no longer exist.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore was originally around three hours long with more character development in the beginning.  Even though I find the picture nearly perfect now, I’d love to see the extended version of the film to see how it changed and to see more of the great acting by Ellen Burstyn and the rest of the cast.  It might not fit in with a lot of Scorsese’s other works, but it is a classic in its own.  Scorsese followed Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore with Taxi Driver in 1976.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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