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Alice Adams (1935)

A working-class girl is thwarted and embarrassed in her attempts to move up socially by her gauche family and unstable father.


George Stevens


Booth Tarkington (novel), Dorothy Yost (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Katharine Hepburn ... Alice Adams
Fred MacMurray ... Arthur Russell
Fred Stone ... Virgil Adams
Evelyn Venable ... Mildred Palmer
Frank Albertson ... Walter Adams
Ann Shoemaker ... Mrs. Adams
Charley Grapewin ... J. A. Lamb
Grady Sutton ... Frank Dowling
Hedda Hopper ... Mrs. Palmer
Jonathan Hale ... Mr. Palmer
Hattie McDaniel ... Malena (as Hattie McDaniels)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Walter Brennan ... (scenes deleted)


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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


SHE FOUND JOY...in the arms of the man she never expected to win!! (Print ad- Daily Times, ((Rochester, Penna.)) 12 October 1935) See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Though Bette Davis won the 1935 Academy Award/Oscar for Dangerous (1935) beating out Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams (1935), Davis was noted for saying more than once that she didn't deserve the award that year and that the one who did was Katherine Hepburn. See more »


When Mrs. Adams is in the bathroom preparing Mr. Adams' medicine; he is holding his pipe with the right hand. But on the following cut, he is now holding the pipe with his left hand. See more »


[first lines]
Florist: Good afternoon.
Alice Adams: Yes, I'd like to buy a corsage, something nice to wear to the party.
Florist: Yes. Ooh, that's the - that's the Palmer party, I suppose.
See more »


Featured in George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984) See more »


(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Jimmy McHugh for: Hooray for Love (1935)
Used instrumentally as dance music
See more »

User Reviews

I was blindsided and enamored
7 January 2005 | by FilmOtakuSee all my reviews

Have you ever picked up what you thought was a glass of water, but when you took a long sip you ended up with a mouthful of Sprite? A surprising feeling, but then you have to figure out if it's pleasant or not. I felt similarly about my experience watching "Alice Adams", George Stevens' 1935 film starring Katherine Hepburn as the title character. Expecting a wily romantic comedy, possibly a precursor to Hepburn's screwball comedies, I instead witnessed a beautiful, touching and sad film about rejection and romance in small-town America.

Alice is the daughter of a bookkeeper who is sick, and therefore temporarily out of work. Even before his unemployment, his job did not provide as much money for his family as many of Alice's contemporaries. This causes Alice to not be accepted in society, and makes it harder to find a boyfriend, though she tries to keep cheerful in front of her family. Unfortunately Mrs. Adams doesn't make things easier, by constantly harping on Mr. Adams to quit his job and be more ambitious. When the Palmers have their annual dance, Alice asks her brother Walter to take her, and there she first sees Arthur Russell MacMurray) a wealthy young man who is practically engaged to Mildred Palmer, probably the richest and most socially prominent young woman in the town. He notices Alice, and after a dance together, finds her a couple of days later and they begin a romance, but it becomes obvious that Alice is not going to be able to put up a façade of wealth and social acceptance for long, as their relationship becomes more serious.

There were so many times that I found myself just aching for Alice during this film. Booth Tarkington is so good at capturing the darker side of small town life without being obvious, that it is understandable that this film could be mistaken for a light romantic comedy, though in reality it was anything but. Alice's low self-esteem, mainly due to society's views on her more than her family's lack of money makes her such a fragile character that she becomes immediately sympathetic, and this is mainly due to Hepburn's performance. This was early in her career, and after seeing many of her later films it is easy to forget just how radiant and luminous she once was. She has always been one of my favorite actresses, but it was generally because of the strength she gave the characters she played throughout the years, not her fragility. "Alice Adams" was an extremely pleasant surprise, and I ended up absolutely loving it. A very solid 8/10.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

13 November 1935 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Booth Tarkington's Alice Adams See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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