In the lower-middle-class Adams family, father and son are happy to work in a drugstore, but mother and daughter Alice try every possible social-climbing stratagem despite snubs and embarrassment. When Alice finally meets her dream man Arthur, mother nags father into a risky business venture and plans to impress Alice's beau with an "upscale" family dinner. Will the excruciating results drive Arthur away? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
ALICE ADAMS is the film I'd heard about for years as one of Hepburn's best early films so when I had the chance to watch it recently on TCM I took advantage of it.
From a novel by Booth Tarkington, it concerns a young woman anxious to connect socially with the right people who manages to attract the attention of a handsome and well-to-do young man (Fred MacMurray) at a party. Hepburn shines in the title role, looking fresh and attractive, struggling to keep him interested in her--but unfortunately, with all of her trademark mannerisms not always held in check.
She does well in the role but, in my opinion, the real magnet of interest is the under-appreciated Fred MacMurray who does a sincere and effortless job as her suitor in a role that could not have been easy to bring off. Both stars are in their physical prime, but MacMurray's naturalness only makes Hepburn look even more mannered than usual. Fortunately, this works because her character is supposed to be putting on airs. But at times, this is overdone.
The awkwardness of the social situations are exploited--and the highpoint has to be the warm dinner served on a hot evening, complete with maid service (by Hattie McDaniel) in one of the movie's most amusing, if uncomfortable, scenes. Here too, MacMurray displays just the right amount of stability against all odds. Fred Stone provides a number of chuckles as Hepburn's so provincial father.
All of the supporting roles are nicely filled, with special praise for Ann Shoemaker as the concerned mother anxious for her daughter to find the right suitor. But it's Hepburn's showcase under George Stevens' sensitive direction and she is convincing despite the overly mannered performance.
Summing up: Although some of the situations seemed a bit forced and not everyone will appreciate the humor at Hattie McDaniel's expense, it's worth watching for Hepburn and MacMurray alone.
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