Alice


1h 25m 1990
Alice

Brief Synopsis

An unhappy wife turns to an acupuncturist for mystical solutions to her problems.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Family
Musical
Fantasy
Music
Release Date
1990

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m

Synopsis

An unhappy wife turns to an acupuncturist for mystical solutions to her problems.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Family
Musical
Fantasy
Music
Release Date
1990

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m

Award Nominations

Best Original Screenplay

1990

Articles

Alice


The idea for Alice (1990) came to the director when he sought an alternative treatment for a sty in his eye. Allen did not find relief in the treatment, which involved using a cat's whisker to clear the tear duct. The fascination this kind of medicine held for wealthy women in the upper echelons of New York society intrigued Allen, despite his natural skepticism for such treatments. In Alice - the original working title for the film was The Magical Herbs of Dr. Yang - Allen crafted a story about a hypochondriac upper-class housewife who discovers unusual things about her life when she partakes of various prescriptions written by a Chinese herbalist.

Loosely based on aspects of Mia Farrow's own life, Alice centers on a woman who is dissatisfied with the trappings of her leisure-class lifestyle -- the pampered days shopping, gossiping, dropping the kids off at expensive pre-schools. Seeking to find more meaning in her life, Alice seeks assistance from a Dr. Yang, who prescribes herbal teas that make her invisible and give her other special powers. The role of Dr. Yang was played by Keye Luke, a character actor whose career dated back to his role as the "Number One Son" of Charlie Chan in the series of films about the popular Chinese detective; Alice would be his final film.

Filming began in late 1989, with Farrow taking on her first role since the birth of Satchel, her son with Allen, two years earlier. The couple's adopted daughter, Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow, wound up playing the role of Kate in the film. Farrow and Allen both found the experience exhausting -- Farrow was still up many nights with her young son and Allen found the shoot an exercise in frustration. Constantly obsessing over details he shot and re-shot sequences, eventually checking briefly into a hospital by the end of the shoot. According to Julian Fox in his book, Woody: Movies from Manhattan, the director was "maddened by small details like a wrong camera angle in a sequence filmed on Madison Avenue or the sudden glimpse of Mia's white dress under her deep-red coat as she walked across Central Park. The white dress ruined the aesthetics of the scene, he complained. 'All this compulsion - and all of that is no guarantee that the film is going to be any good.'

Alice stands out as the rare Woody Allen film that features special effects that support the paranormal quality of the story. Concerned about overshadowing the acting with elaborate visual effects, Allen mandated that the flying and invisibility sequences were to be shot in a manner that was as friendly as possible to the actors involved -- all on a limited budget. For the invisibility sequences, special effects technician Randall Balsmeyer used a soft-screen matte technique that he had used in Dead Ringers (1988) explaining, "To make people appear and disappear we used a soft-edged light, as they would usually disappear from the feet up. The last visible part was their head and that would fade."

Like all of Allen's films, Alice is full of amusing cameos by famous actors and media personalities: Patrick O'Neal appears in a scene with no dialogue, directors James Toback and Bob Balaban appear respectively as a professor of screenwriting and an admirer of Alice's; Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson makes her film debut here in a scene where she undresses before Joe Mantegna (invisible to her).

Like many of Allen's subsequent films, the reception for B>Alice was tepid in the U.S. and extremely enthusiastic overseas. The film garnered Allen an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay and Farrow won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Farrow would only make one additional film with Allen, Husbands and Wives (1992); their highly publicized break-up and Allen's affair with Farrow's adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, ended their ten-year working relationship.

Producer: Robert Greenhut, Jack Rollins
Director: Woody Allen
Screenplay: Woody Allen
Production Design: Santo Loquasto
Cinematography: Carlo Di Palma
Costume Design: Jeffrey Kurland
Film Editing: Susan E. Morse
Original Music: Douglas Furber
Principal Cast: Mia Farrow (Alice Tate), Joe Mantegna (Joe), Alec Baldwin (Ed), Blythe Danner (Dorothy), Judy Davis (Vicki), William Hurt (Doug), Keye Luke (Dr. Yang), June Squibb (Hilda), Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow (Kate), Cybill Shepherd (Nancy Brill), Gwen Verdon (Alice's Mother), Patrick O'Neal (Alice's Father), Bernadette Peters (Muse).
C-102m.

By Genevieve McGillicuddy
Alice

Alice

The idea for Alice (1990) came to the director when he sought an alternative treatment for a sty in his eye. Allen did not find relief in the treatment, which involved using a cat's whisker to clear the tear duct. The fascination this kind of medicine held for wealthy women in the upper echelons of New York society intrigued Allen, despite his natural skepticism for such treatments. In Alice - the original working title for the film was The Magical Herbs of Dr. Yang - Allen crafted a story about a hypochondriac upper-class housewife who discovers unusual things about her life when she partakes of various prescriptions written by a Chinese herbalist. Loosely based on aspects of Mia Farrow's own life, Alice centers on a woman who is dissatisfied with the trappings of her leisure-class lifestyle -- the pampered days shopping, gossiping, dropping the kids off at expensive pre-schools. Seeking to find more meaning in her life, Alice seeks assistance from a Dr. Yang, who prescribes herbal teas that make her invisible and give her other special powers. The role of Dr. Yang was played by Keye Luke, a character actor whose career dated back to his role as the "Number One Son" of Charlie Chan in the series of films about the popular Chinese detective; Alice would be his final film. Filming began in late 1989, with Farrow taking on her first role since the birth of Satchel, her son with Allen, two years earlier. The couple's adopted daughter, Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow, wound up playing the role of Kate in the film. Farrow and Allen both found the experience exhausting -- Farrow was still up many nights with her young son and Allen found the shoot an exercise in frustration. Constantly obsessing over details he shot and re-shot sequences, eventually checking briefly into a hospital by the end of the shoot. According to Julian Fox in his book, Woody: Movies from Manhattan, the director was "maddened by small details like a wrong camera angle in a sequence filmed on Madison Avenue or the sudden glimpse of Mia's white dress under her deep-red coat as she walked across Central Park. The white dress ruined the aesthetics of the scene, he complained. 'All this compulsion - and all of that is no guarantee that the film is going to be any good.' Alice stands out as the rare Woody Allen film that features special effects that support the paranormal quality of the story. Concerned about overshadowing the acting with elaborate visual effects, Allen mandated that the flying and invisibility sequences were to be shot in a manner that was as friendly as possible to the actors involved -- all on a limited budget. For the invisibility sequences, special effects technician Randall Balsmeyer used a soft-screen matte technique that he had used in Dead Ringers (1988) explaining, "To make people appear and disappear we used a soft-edged light, as they would usually disappear from the feet up. The last visible part was their head and that would fade." Like all of Allen's films, Alice is full of amusing cameos by famous actors and media personalities: Patrick O'Neal appears in a scene with no dialogue, directors James Toback and Bob Balaban appear respectively as a professor of screenwriting and an admirer of Alice's; Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson makes her film debut here in a scene where she undresses before Joe Mantegna (invisible to her). Like many of Allen's subsequent films, the reception for B>Alice was tepid in the U.S. and extremely enthusiastic overseas. The film garnered Allen an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay and Farrow won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Farrow would only make one additional film with Allen, Husbands and Wives (1992); their highly publicized break-up and Allen's affair with Farrow's adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, ended their ten-year working relationship. Producer: Robert Greenhut, Jack Rollins Director: Woody Allen Screenplay: Woody Allen Production Design: Santo Loquasto Cinematography: Carlo Di Palma Costume Design: Jeffrey Kurland Film Editing: Susan E. Morse Original Music: Douglas Furber Principal Cast: Mia Farrow (Alice Tate), Joe Mantegna (Joe), Alec Baldwin (Ed), Blythe Danner (Dorothy), Judy Davis (Vicki), William Hurt (Doug), Keye Luke (Dr. Yang), June Squibb (Hilda), Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow (Kate), Cybill Shepherd (Nancy Brill), Gwen Verdon (Alice's Mother), Patrick O'Neal (Alice's Father), Bernadette Peters (Muse). C-102m. By Genevieve McGillicuddy

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

format 1.85

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