1935, Movies

Alice Adams (1935, George Stevens)

I haven’t read this particular Tarkington novel but I’ve read another and I can’t say I liked it. If the book was effective, the filmmakers messed up.

Alice and her family certainly doesn’t look poor: they have a large house (which she says is small) and what looks like nice things. I guess they sort of sound lower in the classes, but barely. They certainly aren’t poor. And it doesn’t help that they cast Hepburn, who of course looks wonderful.

The comedy is really mild and sporadic. Seemingly placed in the film just to give the audience something other than the romance to focus on. And of course most of it is really dated; the slapstick works some but most of the verbal jokes no longer register as jokes. The best joke is when Hepburn is swooning on the porch and her character’s mother turns off the bad Hollywood score.

I will say that the dinner where Alice tries pretend she’s rich is awkward effective, more than the rest of the film.

And backing dramatic conflict is sorted out so easily, which is just typical of these old Hollywood films – and maybe these old American books too. And romantic drama is sorted out even easier with no real actual concern for the supposed problem of his engagement. Who the hell knows what to say about stuff like that?

Ugh, “classic” Hollywood. Ugh.


  • Directed by George Stevens
  • Produced by Pandro S. Berman
  • Screenplay by Dorothy Yost, Mortimer Offner, Jane Murfin
  • Based on Alice Adams (1921) by Booth Tarkington
  • Starring:
    • Katharine Hepburn as Alice Adams
    • Fred MacMurray as Arthur Russell
    • Fred Stone as Mr. Adams
    • Evelyn Venable as Mildred Palmer
    • Frank Albertson as Walter Adams
    • Ann Shoemaker as Mrs. Adams
    • Charles Grapewin as Mr. Lamb
    • Grady Sutton as Frank Dowling
    • Hedda Hopper as Mrs. Palmer
    • Hattie McDaniel as Malena
    • Jonathan Hale as Mr. Palmer
    • Janet McLeod as Henrietta Lamb
    • Virginia Howell as Mrs. Dowling
    • Zeffie Tilbury as Mrs. Dresser
    • Ella McKenzie as Ella Dowling
  • Music by Max Steiner, Roy Webb
  • Cinematography by Robert De Grasse
  • Edited by Jane Loring
  • Production company: RKO Radio Pictures
  • Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
  • Release date: August 15, 1935
  • Running time: 99 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Budget: $342,000
  • Box office: $770,000

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