The Exorcist (1973), but female-driven narratives were still so rare in the male-centric '70s that Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore was given a limited release in urban markets to test its appeal (it played in Los Angles a full month before opening in San Francisco). Neither Martin Scorsese nor rock-star-turned-actor Kris Kristofferson had what you'd call marquee names at the time, so expectations for the film were modest, and advance publicity minimal.
|Ellen Burstyn as Alice Hyatt|
|Alfred Lutter as Tommy Hyatt|
|Somewhere Over the Rainbow...with a really foul mouth|
Mia Bendixson portrays 8-year-old Alice in the Wizard of Oz-inspired opening sequence
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS FILM
Martin Scorsese speaks of having the foreknowledge of the studio expecting him to turn out a genre film – a romantic comedy with a happy ending – yet he and Burstyn turn in a film of such unexpected freshness, I still find myself dazzled by it. Its characters, settings, dialog, and character-based humor felt so refreshingly personal, so original, and so surprising. Scorsese succeeds in creating a 70s revisionist take on the 40s woman's picture, something he endeavored (with considerably less success) with the 40s musical genre when he made New York, New York in 1977. Now there's a film that could have benefited from Ellen Burstyn's level-headed feminine perspective.
|I'd never seen an onscreen mother/son relationship like the one Alice and Tommy share|
|11-year-old Jodie Foster, two years before her explosive Oscar-nominated performance in Scorsese's Taxi Driver|
|The depiction of the friendship that develops between the superficially dissimilar Alice and Flo is one of the best things in the film|
THE STUFF OF DREAMS
|That's 6-year-old Laura Dern (daughter of Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern) listening in on Alice and David's conversation|
a) From a movie buff’s perspective, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore’s ending feels like a perfect full circle for a film that begins with a title sequence (cursive lettering on satin) that references the tropes and clichés of the women’s film genre of the 40s.