Alice's Restaurant
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Alice's Restaurant can be found here.

After being thrown out of school, long-haired hippie singer/songwriter Arlo Guthrie (played by himself) travels from Montana to Massachusetts to visit his friends Ray (James Broderick) and Alice (Patricia Quinn) Brock, who are refurbishing an old church into a home and starting up a restaurant in nearby Stockbridge. Alice cooks Thanksgiving dinner for their friends, after which Arlo and his friend Roger (Geoff Outlaw) take a VW minibus load of trash to the local dump, only to find it closed for the holiday, so they dump the trash in a ravine where others have been dumping trash. The next day, Arlo gets a call from Police Chief William 'Obie' Obanhein (played by himself), and Roger and Arlo find themselves arrested for the grievous crime of littering. Arlo ends up having to pick up the trash and pay a fine of $25. His criminal record, however, is enough to make him ineligible for the U.S. army draft.

Alice's Restaurant is a film adaptation of 1967 folk song monologue 'Alice's Restaurant Massacree ' written and recorded by American singer/songwriter Arlo Guthrie, son of the legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie. The song was adapted for the movie by American film-makers Venable Herndon and Arthur Penn (who also directed).

It was. The real Alice and Ray Brock opened a restaurant, which they named The Back Room, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1966. Although the restaurant closed about a year later, Alice subsequently released a cookbook, The Alice's Restaurant Cookbook in 1969, which featured recipes, hippie wisdom, photos, publicity stills from the movie, and a tear-out record.

There really are only five lines of 'lyrics' to the song:

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in, it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
The rest of the 'song' is a 20+ minute spoken narrative by Arlo Guthrie of the events surrounding and following the Thanksgiving dinner at Ray and Alice's home. The monologue can be found here

Although parts of the story are fictionalized, e.g., the fight in Montana and the Shelly character (Michael McClanathan), the parts of the story surrounding the dinner and the draft board are indeed true. In fact, the dumping incident was even reported in the North Adams (Mass.) Transcript, Dec. 1, 1965, p. 15:

Boys Ordered to Remove Litter 

LEE -- Because they couldn't find a dump open in Great Barrington, 
two youths threw a load of refuse down a Stockbridge hillside on Thanksgiving Day. 

Saturday, Richard J. Robbins, 19, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Arlo Guthrie, 18, 
of Howard Beach, N.Y., each paid a fine of $25 in Lee District Court after pleading
guilty to illegally disposing of rubbish. Special Justice James E. Hannon ordered 
the youths to remove all the rubbish. They did so Saturday afternoon, following a 
heavy rain. 

Police Chief William J. Obanhein of Stockbridge said later the youths found dragging
the junk up the hillside much harder than throwing it down. He said he hoped their 
case would be an example to others who are careless about disposal of rubbish. 
The junk included a divan, plus enough bottles, garbage, papers and boxes to fill 
their Volkswagen truck. "The stuff would take up most of a good-sized pickup truck," 
Chief Obanhein said.
Incidentally, the blind judge is played by the real blind Judge James Hannon.

Woody Guthrie [1912-1967] died prior to the filming from complications of Huntington's disease, a genetic disorder in which cells in the brain are damaged, leading to impeded coordination, a decline in mental abilities, and psychiatric problems.

Yes, Alice Brock makes several cameo appearances in the film. Although she is credited as 'Suzy', there is no Suzy named during the movie. Look for her in the scene where Ray and friends are installing insulation. As Ray sings about 'Ivan', he passes a brunette painter dressed in a brown turtleneck, brown pants, and ponytail. That's the real Alice Brock. She appears again in the Thanksgiving dinner scene dressed in a hot pink blouse and can be seen setting out food on the dinner table. Still wearing her hot pink blouse, she is in the scene the next day when Arlo is speaking on the telephone to Officer Obie and once again at the wedding party wearing a white blouse, magenta skirt, and a black choker around her neck. Again in her white blouse and magenta skirt, she is in one of the final scenes when Ray is talking about selling the church. A photo of the real Alice Brock from the wedding scene can be seen here. A photo of Alice as she appears today can be seen here.

That's legendary American folk singer Pete Seeger, a contemporary of Woody Guthrie. The two songs he performs, 'Patures of Plenty' and the 'Car-Car Song', were actually written by Woody Guthrie.

The song was written and recorded by Joni Mitchell in 1969 but was performed in the movie by Tigger Outlaw, who was married to Geoff Outlaw (Roger) at the time.

How does the movie end?

Alice and Ray agree to repeat their wedding vows. After much after-wedding revelry in which Ray dances drunkenly around Alice sitting silently in a chair, he announces his intention to sell the church. As Arlo and his friends leave, Ray rants on about getting another place where everyone can live together. In the final scene, Alice stands alone outside the church as Arlo sings 'You can get anything you want...except Alice...at Alice's Restaurant'.

Some immensely popular movies that showed young people concerned with social issues in the 1960s include (but are not limited to) Easy Rider (1969), Five Easy Pieces (1970), and Hair (1979). Singers who sang about such issues include (but are not limited to) Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Judy Collins.

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 2 months ago
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