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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Film
There is a scene in the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore which sums up the entire film. It is the scene in which Alice (Ellen Burstyn), newly-widowed and desperate to get a job, convinces a bar owner to see her perform across the street (the owner doesn't even have a piano in his bar). Reluctantly, he comes, and Alice sings the old Sinatra ballad, "When Your Lover Has...
Published on September 17, 2006 by Adam Dukovich

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars She now lives on Nick At Nite.
Martin Scorcese's 2nd major feature, *Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore*, involves a thirty-something widow (Ellen Burstyn, brilliant per usual) and her 12-year-old kid as they find themselves suddenly thrust into the world without a safety net. From the cozy enclave of Monterey, CA, they wind up in Phoenix, AZ, where, after failing to make it as a lounge singer due...
Published on July 16, 2002


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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Film, September 17, 2006
This review is from: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (DVD)
There is a scene in the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore which sums up the entire film. It is the scene in which Alice (Ellen Burstyn), newly-widowed and desperate to get a job, convinces a bar owner to see her perform across the street (the owner doesn't even have a piano in his bar). Reluctantly, he comes, and Alice sings the old Sinatra ballad, "When Your Lover Has Gone." It is a testament to Burstyn's acting that this scene is so hauntingly beautiful, and one senses a personal connection that she has with this song, it almost sounds as if it were written just for her. And the emotions that come through in this scene--pain, loss, but also a great deal of hope--are essentially the film in spades.

It is almost passe to mourn the passing of the cinema of the 1970s, but this is exactly the sort of movie that was made then but isn't now. It is a penetrating, intensely personal but unceasingly honest portrait of a single mother's struggle to survive. Even though several decades have passed, the story remains timely because it is ultimately the story of humanity, and will have resonance for anyone who has had to leave the familiar and try to make it on their own. Some might dismiss it as an extended metaphor for feminism (which it is) but it is also much more than that--it cuts far deeper, but it is ultimately a very humanistic film.

I can't stop singing this movie's praises. It inspires without being "inspirational". It is not an exultation of the human spirit, but rather the embodiment of it. It never sounds a hollow, false, or obvious note, but rather sticks with utter realism throughout, and as a result is immensely satisfying. I would highly recommend the movie to anyone who appreciates a good drama that doesn't unfold along the expected path.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a powerful drama and an absolute acting marathon, December 15, 2005
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This review is from: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (DVD)
"Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" tells the story of a woman who attempts to forge her own path following her husband's sudden death. The general concept of a woman having her own career and not just being a housewife certainly isn't as radical today as it was when this first came out in 1974, but "Alice..." nevertheless remains a powerful drama thanks to thoroughly terrific performances, and to that trademark Scorsese grittiness.

You can tell that while filming this movie, Ellen Burstyn really WAS Alice Hyatt--her performance is brilliant and flawlessly convincing. Alice's husband Donald (Billy "Green" Bush) dies early in the film in a traffic accident, and it becomes apparent that Alice relied on his financial support while not really being in love him. As we see in the dreamlike opening scene, Alice had aspired to be a singer as a child, a dream that she let fall by the wayside in favor of a typical role as a housewife. With her husband out of the picture, Alice has an 'everything-must-go' type garage sale, sells the house, and hits the road, leaving Socorro, New Mexico with her often annoying, yet sharp 11-year-old son Tommy (Alfred Lutter).

When in Phoenix, a sympathetic bar owner is impressed enough by Alice's audition to hire her to play piano and sing, leading to her meeting of Ben Eberhardt, a character brilliantly portrayed by Harvey Keitel. Ben displays a certain laidback charm, and Alice, who deep down does want to have a man around, falls for him, only to discover that he's already married and prone to fits of violence. Keitel is absolutely devastating in the unforgettable "break in" scene that occurs at the motel Alice and Tommy are staying at, a scene which prompts Alice to get out of town immediately.

Their next stop is Tucson, where Alice despairingly settles for a waitressing job. At the restaurant begins her initially rocky relationship with fellow waitress Flo (Diane Ladd). She also meets at the restaurant the charming, divorced farmer David, played by Kris Kristofferson in a natural, engaging performance. Despite her wariness, Alice does fall in love with David, but the relationship isn't exactly smooth sailing, and it leads Alice into a painful realization about her own son. Meanwhile, Tommy is hanging out with his new friend, the mischievous Audrey, played astonishingly by an 11 or 12 year old Jodie Foster.

Ultimately, we do get a full-blown happy-ending, and that's okay, because it's touchingly done, and the path that leads to that ending is such a rewarding one. "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" is a film no serious viewer should miss.

As usual for a Martin Scorsese direction, this DVD release of "Alice..." is very, very well done, featuring an absolutely superb widescreen transfer of the film. Additionally, there's an excellent, informative documentary featuring interview segments with Burstyn and Kristofferson; and there's also insightful and unfailingly entertaining commentary from the often motor-mouthed Scorsese.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real life "over the rainbow" search for meaning., January 27, 2005
This review is from: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (DVD)
A dream-like sequence begins this film with Alice, looking very much like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, fantasizing about becoming a singer in Monterey. This whimsical, nostalgic scene is abruptly ended when Alice exclaims, "If they don't like it they can blow it out their ass!" Suddenly the muted, highly stylized images of Oz become starkly realistic and we are no longer in dreamland! It's the early 70's and Alice, 27 years removed from her Dorothy period, is middle aged with a smartass difficult boy, and a not so smart husband she can't seem to please and who makes no attempt whatsoever to please her. Her dream is now somewhere over the rainbow until fate steps in, removing her husband and freeing Alice from drudgery. Now what? Broke, no job, no one to lean on and yet having a child that needs support, Alice sets out on the road with her dream as the ultimate destination. Soon Alice will discover that real life has a way of lowering expectations, and Martin Scorsese's film is a slice of real life. The struggle and uncertainty, especially for a woman in a man's world, can be daunting, but Alice is nothing if not determined. This film works due to the genuineness of the characters, the outstanding performance of Ellen Burstyn, and because it glorifies something everyone can strive for: small victories. Sometimes less is more.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant; beautifully acted, written, and realized, March 27, 2001
I saw this movie when I was very young (at least 16 years ago). To me it was just a comedy film that launched "Alice" (which was one of my favorite shows at the time). I now saw it after all these years and was amazed by all that I saw this time around.
This is one of the best-acted films I've ever seen. Nothing more needs to be said about Ellen Burstyn here other than she still remains in my mind as one of the luminary, top-drawer actresses in American cinema these past 30+ years. She is flawless here; even breathtaking! And the performance by Alfred Lutter as her son Tommy was one of the finest performances I've seen by a teen/pre-teen. And of course there's Diane Ladd as the infamous Flo, who revels (and excels) in a small meaty role that usually wins Best Supporting Actress Oscars (she unfortunately lost). And Jodie Foster (as butch as can be) is a riot. And Kris Kristofferson gets his part just right, as do Harvey Keitel and the late Vic Tayback as the overbearing but lovable Mel.
I don't know if the perfect acting in this film is a tribute to the actors or to Martin Scorsese (or both). But this film shows that Martin Scorsese is truly a monumental talent. High praise also goes to Robert Getchell for a screenplay that is as hilarious as it is moving. The purity and spirit of this film is obvious and very affecting.
I think this is one of the great films of the 1970s. Be sure to put it on your list if you're a student of cinema. I think it is a landmark film in the human comedy/drama genre.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars She now lives on Nick At Nite., July 16, 2002
By A Customer
Martin Scorcese's 2nd major feature, *Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore*, involves a thirty-something widow (Ellen Burstyn, brilliant per usual) and her 12-year-old kid as they find themselves suddenly thrust into the world without a safety net. From the cozy enclave of Monterey, CA, they wind up in Phoenix, AZ, where, after failing to make it as a lounge singer due primarily to her involvement with a maniac (Harvey Keitel), they're forced to push on to Tucson. There, she sensibly gives up her dream to be a singer and ends up as a waitress at a roughneck diner. At the diner, she meets a fading hippie / farmer / cowboy / musician (Kris Kristofferson -- who else?) who's currently divorced and seems to be a better bet than the [people who] surrounds her. Though he's breezy about his divorce ("She up and left, and I held the door open for her"), it's soon revealed why he's alone and hasn't seen his kids in some time: he's got a definite edge, a my-way-or-the-highway approach that extends to Burstyn's kid as well as herself. She must decide if he's worth the effort required to shape him up. Meanwhile, her son is giving her headaches by getting into trouble with his new girlfriend, a butch but cute Jodie Foster (her first film?). I don't know this kid's name, but what a performance: annoying as hell, but in a real-life way (as opposed to the *Home Alone* way). I've taken the trouble to describe all this exposition because it does seem odd, at first glance, that this is a Martin Scorcese film, with its Western setting, feminist subtext, so forth. Some have said that it's an anomaly in the Scorcese oeuvre . . . but the tendency for this movie's characters to go into theatrical screaming fits, often accompanied by near-murderous violence, and the overuse of the shaky, joggling, "cinema verite"-style camera-work, puts us in all-too familiar territory. *Alice* really shouldn't be this flashy. Scorcese's penchant for projecting to the peanut gallery harms the film. But the characterizatons, the abundant humor, and the sense of everything hanging by a fragile thread, somewhat alleviate the director's excesses. [Quick note for those too young to remember: not long after this slice-of-life dramedy's release in 1974, someone in Hollywood thought that this material would be a great idea for a TV sitcom. Hence *Alice*, starring Linda Lavin ("What a falling off was there!" to quote *Hamlet*) that was inexplicably popular throughout the entire decade. America thought "Kiss my grits!", a phrase often used by a brassy waitress on the show, was hilarious.]
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The end of the fairytale world over the rainbow..., December 11, 2006
This review is from: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (DVD)
The opening of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore must have been daring for 1974: it's a Wizard of Oz parody, a depiction of Dorothy's fairytale world of Kansas, but definitely without the sweet dialogue we're accustomed to hearing from that film. In two short minutes, we're told that modern times ("modern times" being the early-mid 1970s) are quite different from the world into which Alice Hyatt was born. You've come a long way, baby.

I was struck by how dated this film is in some ways. But of course what else could be expected. This was the beginning of the women's movement, and in the film Alice, played brilliantly by Ellen Burstyn, finds herself widowed, alone with a 12-year-old kid, and without any visible means of support. And women didn't necessarily have all the options then that they have now.

This could have been played as a maudlin or preachy piece, but what makes Alice such a joy is that the film never loses its sense of humor, because Hyatt never loses her sense of humor about life as she goes about talking to her child in funny voices and listening to his interminable unfunny jokes. (At least, they're not funny if you're older than 12.) At the same time, we always manage to appreciate her situation--the film also doesn't go for easy laughs. The sequence where she decides she has to get a job as a singer, and goes from dive to dive until one kind-hearted owner takes pity on her, is heart-breakingly real. Again, Scorsese could have gone the easy route and played the guy as a letch who would only agree to give her the jog if she slept with him, but he avoids the obvious, thank heavens, and instead we get a study of human nature instead of a feminist cliche.

I did have some problems with this film, mostly of the narrative kind. The fights with Kris Kristofferson's character seem a bit contrived. In the end we don't really sense if Alice will be any happier. Maybe Kristofferson will be a jerk towards her. She's still no to her dream as a singer, and a dream is what it is as best, because it's obvious she doesn't have the talent to make it big, or even make it period. (Even a mediocre version of "Where or When" can be moving, however.)

But although the finish isn't perfect, the journey sure is interesting. Alice is a survivor. She's not booksmart, but she's streetsmart. She's not sexy, but she is attractive. She's not vulnerable, but she's not a cold and aloof character either.

What makes most of the film work is the miraculous performance by Ellen Burstyn. She got an Oscar for this, and she deserved it. Also outstanding is Alfred Lutter as 12-year-old Donald Hyatt. He had almost no prior screen experience, but you'd never know it. Billy Green Bush is completely convincing as the domineering husband who gets KOed in a truck accident. Kristofferson is standard-issue Kristofferson--good enough, but not particularly memorable. Scorsese sprinkles his special restless energy over the whole trhing to make it play just right. Few movies have such honest, unsentimentalized visions of everyday folks in everyday places. My only problem is with some of the diner scenes, which were played a little too over-the-top. If Scorsese was trying for comedy it wasn't funny. If he was trying for heightened drama it wasn't convincing. Those scenes seemed to go against the grain of the rest of the movie's naturalistic style. Also, those who grew up on the TV sitcom Alice may be surprised how little the diner--and the characters of Mel, Flo and Vera--figure in the film.

As usual, Warner Bros. does an excellent job with the DVD. (They're Criterion's only serious competition when it comes to reissues.) The print looks so good you'd think this was shot yesterday--I barely noticed a spec of dirt on this 32-year-old film. The disc features the theatrical trailer and an interesting retrospective with Kristofferson and Burstyn, but no one else. Their reminiscences are interesting and fun, however. I'm really not sure, 30 years later, if this is a "great" film. However, it's better than anything Scorsese has done since 1990.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, February 11, 2005
This review is from: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (DVD)
There are more laughs, cries, struggles, heartaches, and lessons packed into this one-woman-on-the-road show than just about any other movie you have seen. It reveals the escapism and yearning inherent to rural southwestern life. This is an excellent film from the earlier career days of distinquished directors and actors. You can certainly understand the Best Actress award that went to Ellen. A pre-teenage Jodie Foster is a bonus. Just about everyone that sees it loves this movie classic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slice of life set in the 1970's American Southwest, July 16, 2006
This review is from: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (DVD)
While the surreal opening sequence, reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, did nothing to enhance it, the movie as a whole is thoroughly enjoyable. Southwestern scenery, interesting soundtrack and authentic details all enrich the story. Ellen Burstyn is excellent in the title role and Kris Kristofferson is adequate as her rancher love interest. Alfred Lutter has lots of screen time and is so convincing as Alice's annoying almost 12 year old son, Tommy, I feel like I went to school with him. Yet the host of smaller and more memorable characters really make the movie shine. Jodie Foster is great as a worldly preteen who lures Tommy in to a brush with the law. Harvey Keitel is fascinating playing a character who appears at first to be an awkward, nice guy enamored of a lounge singing Alice but morphs into an abusive and threatening lover who also turns out to be a married man. Diane Lane's Flo is so much more real and nuanced than the "kiss my grits" Flo we saw on the 1970's situation comedy "Alice" that was inspired by the movie. That characters of Mel, Vera, Bea and a host of other smaller parts are given believable portrayals. The end of the movie is delivered with a subtle touch. Though Tommy and Alice had originally planned Monterey, California to be their final destination the "Monterey" they walk toward in the closing scene is quite different. And what momentarily looks like the ocean is revealed as the camera pulls back to be a distant desert mountain.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore Will Probably Live On To Blu-ray., January 21, 2011
This film was great with great acting and plot by great direction of Martin Scorcese. This movie's about Alice Hyatt going on a journey with her fast talking son to find her career as a singer in Monterey, California with little money to go on. So she stops somewhere before her destination to be a singer at a bar to earn more money, but obviously it didn't work out for her the way she wanted it. So Alice continues to go on and makes a stop at Tucson, Arizona where she becomes a waitress at Mel's Diner. She finds her new love interest with Kris Kristofferson's character who happens to be a divorced, abusive father. He finds a way to win Alice back. Ellen Burstyn's a wonderful actress who've just finished the film "The Exorcist" then goes on to play in a dramedy where a woman can set out on her own and knows how to become independent. It's every woman's dream to become a singer. But not all dreams can come true for them as they may find different careers like the one in this movie. Alice's dream of becoming a singer didn't come true.

Jodie Foster in this movie was her first which helped spun her career into stardom. She played Audrey, a self-conniving little teenage girl who goes and befriends Tommy (Alice's son)and helps him to do these juvenile things. She was a very clever kid by knowin how to get her own way without getting caught.

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore was a great film that spun a TV series "Alice" for nine seasons. These characters in this show played by different actors except for the character of Mel which played by the late-great actor Vic Tayback who was also in the film. The waitresses in the show was played by Linda Lavin (Alice) Polly Holliday (Flo) Beth Howland (Vera) Philip McKeon (Tommy).

The movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore should be watched to see how this movie became such an award-winning hit! I recommend for all those whose curiousity about whether this movie is worth watching should take a look at it and find out. It's a very interesting movie. I saw this movie over and over again. I'm delighted about Scorcese's work on this film. He makes great movies like Raging Bull, Cape Fear, The Goodfellas, The Departed and Casino.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'slice of life' new hollywood era scorcese, January 16, 2011
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This review is from: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (DVD)
A decent little flick in the style of 'New Hollywood' of the early 70s, similar in tone to movies of that period like The Last Detail, Scarecrow, Five Easy Pieces etc. though unlike those films it centers around a woman. There's a 'slice of life' art to these movies that I admire, like poetry, though, like poetry, you don't come to it for the entertainment value of say a best-selling novel or the latest HBO special. The film held my interest as well as any movie from this period could be expected to, but what keeps me from giving it 5 stars is that it didn't move me terribly one way or the other by the end.

Barkin's character Alice often seems like a breakdown isn't too far away, though it's not surprising given the circumstances. I did enjoy her brief singing career and wonder if she really did sing.. Would have liked to have had more of that and maybe less romance with Kristofferson. But it wasn't to be.. Alice's life was wrapped up in A) survival - in terms of money, finding a job and place to live, and B) in terms of surviving the men in her life. Her son I actually quite liked and wouldn't have described as bratty at all (although the jokes were a bit much). He dealt with things remarkably well considering the conditions of their lives at that point.

Other reasons to see this film: you get to see Jodie Foster as a boy, Keitel and Kristofferson in typical roles, and check off your list one more movie by Scorcese that you haven't seen. I liked Alice better than Mean Streets which preceded, but not as much as After Hours which is a very entertaining film (if you like black humor).

Finally, I didn't know the 70s sit-com Alice had derived from this movie, though so it did, and the same Mel from Mel's Diner is actually in this movie. And I know it's a bit off the point, but I wish they'd put out season sets of the sit-com Alice. Why that hasn't happened yet is anyone's guess.
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Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore by Martin Scorsese (DVD - 2004)
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