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Alice's Restaurant (1969)

A cinematic adaption of Arlo Guthrie's classic song story.

Director:

Writers:

(song), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Patricia Quinn ...
Alice Brock (as Pat Quinn)
...
Ray Brock
...
Pete Seeger
Lee Hays ...
Lee Hays - Reverend at Evangelical Meeting
Michael McClanathan ...
Shelly
Geoff Outlaw ...
Roger Crowther
...
Mari-chan
Kathleen Dabney ...
Karin
...
William Obanhein - Officer Obie
Seth Allen ...
Evangelist
Monroe Arnold ...
Blueglass
Joseph Boley ...
Vinnette Carroll ...
Draft Clerk
Sylvia Davis ...
Marjorie Guthrie
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Storyline

Arlo Guthrie's song is converted into a motion picture. Arlo goes to see Alice for Thanksgivng and as a favor takes her trash to the dump. When the dump is closed, he drops it on top of another pile of garbage at the bottom of a ravine. When the local sheriff finds out a major manhunt begins. Arlo manages to survive the courtroom experience but it haunts him when he is to be inducted into the army via the draft. The movie follows the song with Arlo's voice over as both music and narration. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Every Generation Has A Story To Tell. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 August 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El restaurante de Alicia  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$6,300,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Arlo Guthrie's co-defendant in the littering incident actually was named Richard (Ricky) Rhodes, a local 19-year-old (Guthrie was 18 at the time). See more »

Goofs

When young Reenie takes Arlo back to her room, she removes her shirt but not her skirt, but in the next shot her skirt is gone and she is only in her panties. See more »

Quotes

Girl: [as Arlo leads donkey into the church] You can ride him to Canada!
Boy: [about to be drafted] Been wondering how to get my ass across the border.
See more »

Connections

Featured in 100 Years of Comedy (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Boiling Cabbage Down
Traditional
Performed by James Broderick
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Uneven mix of comedy and drama in late 60's time capsule.
15 October 2002 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

I had all but forgotten about the film of "Alice's Restaurant", which was inspired by (as opposed to based on) Arlo Guthrie's classic and comic song of the same name. Viewing it again on DVD made for a curious experience.

Midway through the film, director Arthur Penn (fresh off of "Bonnie and Clyde", I believe) literally shoots the events on which the song is based, and they are if anything even more amusing on screen than on record. However, anyone expecting the film itself to reflect this tone overall is in for a surprise.

By the time Arlo (playing himself) has his litter-inspired run-in with the draft board (which is, again, hilarious) we have come to know him as one of a commune-like group of people in Stockbridge which is more or less centered around Alice and Ray. The two live unconventionally with their friends in an unused Church. Alice seeks to add some stability to her life by opening a restaurant, which she does successfully with the help of friend Arlo's jingle. She and Arlo are the only members of their group who look beyond the aimless lifestyle of the members of their commune, who are content to meander through life riding motorcycles and getting stoned. We see Alice affected by the drug-inspired struggle and death of addict Shelley and Arlo affected by the long illness and eventual death of his father, Woody Guthrie. Perhaps their emotional connections to their lost loved ones are what clue them in to the shallowness of the lives around them. But if Arlo has his music to move on to, Alice is fairly glued to her life with the stoned-out Ray, their friends and her restaurant. It is with great sadness indeed that she watches Arlo ride off to resume his life on the road.

The point made about the trappings of the Hippie lifestyle being so unfulfilling are well ahead of their time when juxtaposed with other movies of the era and are actually quite haunting. The problem is that they make the wonderful recapping of the events surrounding Arlo's writing of the song seem out of place. This shift in tone is never quite reconciled by director Penn, rendering the film more of a curiosity than a success.

In addition to the now-fabled Thanksgiving sequence, highlights include James Broderick's lively performance as Ray, Pat Quinn's understated one as Alice and Guthrie's ever present charm and humor. It is also a wonderful bonus to see Arlo perform his father's "Pastures of Plenty" and "Car Song" with the wonderful Pete Seeger. (That's folk music producer Harold Leventhal as Woody's manager.) The film itself is ultimately as ramshackle as the group whose story it tells, but if the era means anything to you you will find it worth watching.


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