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In the small town of South Renford, Alice Adams comes from a working class background, although she aspires to be among the upper class. Alice's mother blames her husband for their low social standing, despite his working hard and Alice not blaming him for anything. Regardless, Alice tries to do whatever necessary to put on appearances of wealth and social standing, despite everyone in that class in town knowing who she is, and thus largely ignoring her because of her false airs. First meeting at a society ball, Alice surprisingly catches the eye of Arthur Russell, surprisingly as he purportedly is engaged to débutante Mildred Palmer. As Alice continues to hide her true social standing from Arthur as he courts her, Mrs. Adams pressures Mr. Adams into doing something he doesn't want to do in an effort truly to become part of the business class, that measure which entails sinking all his money into a business venture. Beyond the time when Arthur finds out the true nature behind Alice's ... Written by
Just wonderful - a wonderfully true story of class and embarrassment
I had heard of the famous Tarkington novel (but not read it) and had known that Katherine Hepburn won the Best Actress Oscar for this. So, I rented it.
It's just so moving. What I think some of the negative reviewers forget is just how much a girl's prospects in a small town in the 1920s are determined by whom she marries. For the intelligent, lively, vibrant, charming, warm-hearted Alice Adams - with a pitifully weak (but very sympathetic) and rather poor father, Alice's chance to "make anything" of her life is determined socially.
My heart ached with the snubs Alice receives - the routine unthinking cuts she receives at the hands of those from "better" families. Wearing a two year old dress with a corsage of violets illegally picked from the park, her loutish brother in his old beaten-up borrowed car as her date, she tries SO HARD to fit in - and doesn't because no one will let her. It's the most opaque of glass ceilings.
If you've ever felt (at a job, a party, a family gathering) that there was nothing you could do - no matter how hard you tried - to fit in - yet it was important that you did, you'll feel so much for this charming girl.
I do agree with others that the Arthur Russell part is underwritten.
But the movie boring? Not on your life. The painful moments are more difficult to watch than most war movies in which the protagonist is killed - because it is so well-done -
-- the pains of humiliation borne within, the disability one cannot hide, the old dress, the rude and outrageous relation, the thwarted eagerness - these are far more likely to be the painful moments in one's life (that one does not wish to remember) than any actual bullet wounds.
I love how the movie does not show a saintly Alice - she would love to snub others (e.g., the chubby boy at the dance), would love to parade before others in finery. yet her warmth toward her family - her essential sweetness, her strong frustrated yearning - are completely captivating.
We love this girl - and because of that, we love the movie.
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