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This is a film about class within the American family. Alice Adams is a young lower-middle class woman amongst a wealthy community. Her mother had raised Alice with her invalid husband, always resenting him for bringing down the family financially and socially. Their son, Walter is perhaps one of the most charismatic characters who is friends with foreigners and gambles for a living. He is strictly no bullsh*t with Katharine Hepburn's Alice and does not think so much of her hollow attempts of assimilating with the higher classes.
It has been a surprisingly enjoyable film from the period to watch and I would say it translates better than most to a modern audience.
I don't like Alice (=Hepburn's performance as Alice). She is too much for me. But that speech to Mr. Lamb at the end was amazing.
I mentioned this when I reviewed Sabrina, but the whole "social climbing romance" genre holds very few rewards for me. Alice Adams features a young Katharine Hepburn saying "Maaahvelous" and "Daahhling" a lot, a girl from the middle class trying to get in with the snobbish in-crowd, and I find I have a lot of trouble investing in such a story. Hepburn is such a snob herself for wanting that life, and so filled with self-loathing, that it's hard to fathom why Fred MacMurray's character would fall for her. He clearly rejects the elitism of the people in his class strata. Saddled with a Capra-esque glue patent subplot that's meant to support a fairy tale ending, the movie has nowhere to go once Alice realizes what we've known for at least an hour. Are we to understand the middle class could make it if only it would get out of its own way? Because that's the message of both the A and B plots. Oh, Alice can be very touching when she's feeling humiliated, but even with a strong performance, it's hard to sit there and WANT her to succeed.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #52 in Academy Award Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #147 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films