Alice's Restaurant


1h 50m 1969
Alice's Restaurant

Brief Synopsis

A young folksinger becomes a fugitive after dumping trash in the wrong place.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Boston opening: 20 Aug 1969
Production Company
Florin Corp.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Location
Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA; New York City, New York, USA
Screenplay Information
Inspired by the song "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree," words and music by Arlo Guthrie (1969).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

After registering for the draft, folk singer Arlo enrolls at Rocky Mountain College in Montana to qualify for an "educational" draft deferment. During matriculation, however, Arlo, disgusted by the school's bureaucracy and the townspeople's antagonism, drops out. Traveling east, he visits his dying father, Woody, in a New York hospital and participates with Stockbridge, Massachusetts, friends Ray and Alice Brock in the founding of a commune in a deconsecrated church and, later, the establishment of a restaurant. Communal harmony is disrupted by Shelly, an incorrigible drug addict to whom Alice compassionately makes love. After an altercation with Ray, Alice runs away to New York, where she encounters Arlo in Greenwich Village. Together they return to the commune for a mammoth Thanksgiving feast. Finding the city dump closed for the holiday, Arlo deposits a half ton of garbage in a ravine. Alerted by a passing motorist, Officer Obie identifies the culprit by means of a letter found in the trash heap and arrests Arlo for littering. At a hearing before a blind justice, Arlo pleads guilty. As a consequence he is declared unfit for military service by the army. After his father dies of Huntington's chorea and Shelly dies of an overdose of heroin, the grieving communards participate in a ceremony celebrating the renewal of the Brocks' wedding vows. During the festivity, Ray proposes the purchase of farmland in Vermont. The group, its ardor dampened by Shelly's death, is unenthusiastic. Despite Ray's pleas, the former friends separate. As Arlo and his girl friend, Mari-chan, depart, the disconsolate Alice watches from the door of the empty church.

Videos

Movie Clip

Alice's Restaurant - Songs To Aging Children A bundled Joni Mitchell performs "Songs to Aging Children" at the snowy funeral for "Shelly," with Alice (Pat Quinn), Ray (James Broderick) and friends attending in Arthur Penn's Alice's Restaurant, 1969.
Alice's Restaurant - Woody Arlo Guthrie (playing himself) visits his dying folksinger father Woody (played by Joseph Boley) and mother Marjorie (Sylvia Davis) in a New York hospital in Arthur Penn's Alice's Restaurant, 1969.
Alice's Restaurant - Reenie Arlo (Guthrie), back in New York on a gig, meets teenage groupie Reenie (Shelley Plimpton) who takes him home, but he doesn't want to catch her cold, in a touching scene from Arthur Penn's Alice's Restaurant, 1969.
Alice's Restaurant - Pete Seeger Pete Seeger is visiting hospitalized Woody Guthrie (played by Joseph Noble) this time, performing "Pastures of Plenty" and "The Car Song," when son Arlo drops by, in Arthur Penn's Alice's Restaurant, 1969.
Alice's Restaurant - Group W Part two of the draft board adventure as Arlo (Guthrie) is sent to "Group W," where M. Emmet Walsh is the officer in charge, from Arthur Penn's Alice's Restaurant, 1969.
Alice's Restaurant - Girdles Feel Funny Arlo (Guthrie) gets money for Ray (James Broderick) and Shelly (Matthew McClanathan) from club owner Ruth (Eulalie Noble), who then solicits Arlo, who splits in his microbus in Alice's Restaurant, 1969.
Alice's Restaurant - Excepting Alice... Arlo (Guthrie) pulls out, Ray (James Broderick) says goodbye, and Alice (Pat Quinn) in her wedding dress is seen in Arthur Penn's famous closing shot by cinematographer Michael Nebbia, in Alice's Restaurant, 1969.
Alice's Restaurant - Draft Board Arlo (Guthrie) visits Whitehall Street and the draft board, in director Arthur Penn's comic expression of the scenes from the famous song, from Alice's Restaurant, 1969.
Alice's Restaurant - Deconsecration Ray (James Broderick) and Alice (Pat Quinn) wait as the church they've bought is "deconsecrated," and pal Arlo (Guthrie) arrives, in Arthur Penn's Alice's Restaurant, 1969.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Boston opening: 20 Aug 1969
Production Company
Florin Corp.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Location
Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA; New York City, New York, USA
Screenplay Information
Inspired by the song "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree," words and music by Arlo Guthrie (1969).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Director

1969
Arthur Penn

Articles

Alice's Restaurant


After the phenomenal success of Bonnie and Clyde in 1967, director Arthur Penn wanted to go in a different thematic direction, away from exploring violence as an unavoidable human condition. His inspiration for a new project came from an unlikely source, an eighteen-minute talking blues ballad by Arlo Guthrie entitled "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree." In an interview with Bernard Weinraub for the New York Times, Penn said, "I heard a record and said, 'That's a movie.' I didn't know what shape it would take. It seemed so active and cinematic. It took on images very quickly. It was difficult, though, because we didn't have a strong narrative, as we had in Bonnie and Clyde, to thrust it forward." But using key moments from the song like the confrontation with Officer Obie over the illegal dumping of garbage in the town dump and Arlo's experiences at the Army induction center, Penn's movie began to take shape, one that he hoped would encapsulate the counterculture of the sixties -- flower children, draft card burning, commune living, the rebellion against authority.

Retaining the loose and rambling ballad structure of the song, Alice's Restaurant (1969) is an often lyrical and bittersweet movie about an awkward time in the sixties. Though the general tone of the film is humorous, a more serious side emerges occasionally through the addition of new incidents -- such as Arlo's visit to the hospital to see his dying father, the legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie (played by Joseph Boley) -- or new characters like Shelly (Michael McClanathan), who dies of a drug overdose. But overall, the storyline mimics the song. Arlo, an itinerant hippie, drops in on a commune run by his friends, Ray (James Broderick) and Alice (Pat Quinn), and decides to stay awhile in their Berkshire County home (a reconverted church). A spectacular Thanksgiving Day meal ends in Arlo's arrest, which later inadvertently helps him avoid the draft and return to the commune. But the easygoing camaraderie among the hippies is slowly eroded by competitive relationships and sexual rivalries -- typical human foibles.

Alice's Restaurant was filmed in and around Stockbridge, Pittsfield, and Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and New York City. One of the most celebrated moments in the movie is the final shot of Alice, sitting alone on the steps of the deserted church, staring into an uncertain future. Penn and his editor, Dede Allen, spent months planning this complicated sequence which took hours to actually shoot. "The camera was dollying back and zooming in at the same time and the image of Alice remained constant," Penn said in the aforementioned New York Times article. "I wanted a certain melancholy in that scene. It was the closure of a phase in someone's life. I wanted the constancy of a memory experience and the physical sense of departure." In 1974, director Sidney Lumet would try to recreate this tricky final sequence with Blythe Danner in Lovin' Molly, an adaptation of Larry McMurtry's novel, Leaving Cheyenne.

When Alice's Restaurant opened theatrically, it received decidedly mixed reviews from the critics and wasn't a popular box-office success with its intended age group. Many pointed out that Arlo Guthrie was no actor but is merely playing himself here. Still, the film did garner an Oscar nomination for Best Director and introduced audiences to some talented newcomers, including Pat Quinn as Alice; character actor M. Emmet Walsh as the Group W sergeant; Tina Chen as Mari-Chan, Arlo's girlfriend; and Shelley Plimpton (former wife of David Carradine and mother of Shelley Plimpton) as Reenie, an undernourished groupie. James Broderick (father of Matthew), who plays Ray, had only appeared on television and in a few bit parts like The Group (1966) before winning this important role. Folk singer Pete Seeger appears as himself, performing "Pastures of Plenty" and the "Car-Car Song" with Arlo. And Joni Mitchell can be heard singing "Songs to Aging Children" during the wintry funeral scene at Shelly's gravesite. By the way, the real Alice of Alice's Restaurant appears in a cameo. She later published a cookbook of her recipes.

Producer: Hillard Elkins, Joseph Manduke
Director: Arthur Penn
Screenplay: Arthur Penn, Venabel Herndon
Production Design: Warren Clymer
Cinematography: Michael Nebbia
Editing: Dede Allen
Music: Arlo Guthrie, Garry Sherman
Principal Cast: Arlo Guthrie (Arlo), Pat Quinn (Alice), James Broderick (Ray), Michael McClanathan (Shelly), Geoff Outlaw (Roger), Tina Chen (Mari-Chan), Kathleen Dabney (Karin), William Obanhein (Officer Obie), Joseph Boley (Woody), Shelley Plimpton (Reenie), M. Emmet Walsh (Group W Sergeant).
C-111m.

by Jeff Stafford
Alice's Restaurant

Alice's Restaurant

After the phenomenal success of Bonnie and Clyde in 1967, director Arthur Penn wanted to go in a different thematic direction, away from exploring violence as an unavoidable human condition. His inspiration for a new project came from an unlikely source, an eighteen-minute talking blues ballad by Arlo Guthrie entitled "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree." In an interview with Bernard Weinraub for the New York Times, Penn said, "I heard a record and said, 'That's a movie.' I didn't know what shape it would take. It seemed so active and cinematic. It took on images very quickly. It was difficult, though, because we didn't have a strong narrative, as we had in Bonnie and Clyde, to thrust it forward." But using key moments from the song like the confrontation with Officer Obie over the illegal dumping of garbage in the town dump and Arlo's experiences at the Army induction center, Penn's movie began to take shape, one that he hoped would encapsulate the counterculture of the sixties -- flower children, draft card burning, commune living, the rebellion against authority. Retaining the loose and rambling ballad structure of the song, Alice's Restaurant (1969) is an often lyrical and bittersweet movie about an awkward time in the sixties. Though the general tone of the film is humorous, a more serious side emerges occasionally through the addition of new incidents -- such as Arlo's visit to the hospital to see his dying father, the legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie (played by Joseph Boley) -- or new characters like Shelly (Michael McClanathan), who dies of a drug overdose. But overall, the storyline mimics the song. Arlo, an itinerant hippie, drops in on a commune run by his friends, Ray (James Broderick) and Alice (Pat Quinn), and decides to stay awhile in their Berkshire County home (a reconverted church). A spectacular Thanksgiving Day meal ends in Arlo's arrest, which later inadvertently helps him avoid the draft and return to the commune. But the easygoing camaraderie among the hippies is slowly eroded by competitive relationships and sexual rivalries -- typical human foibles. Alice's Restaurant was filmed in and around Stockbridge, Pittsfield, and Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and New York City. One of the most celebrated moments in the movie is the final shot of Alice, sitting alone on the steps of the deserted church, staring into an uncertain future. Penn and his editor, Dede Allen, spent months planning this complicated sequence which took hours to actually shoot. "The camera was dollying back and zooming in at the same time and the image of Alice remained constant," Penn said in the aforementioned New York Times article. "I wanted a certain melancholy in that scene. It was the closure of a phase in someone's life. I wanted the constancy of a memory experience and the physical sense of departure." In 1974, director Sidney Lumet would try to recreate this tricky final sequence with Blythe Danner in Lovin' Molly, an adaptation of Larry McMurtry's novel, Leaving Cheyenne. When Alice's Restaurant opened theatrically, it received decidedly mixed reviews from the critics and wasn't a popular box-office success with its intended age group. Many pointed out that Arlo Guthrie was no actor but is merely playing himself here. Still, the film did garner an Oscar nomination for Best Director and introduced audiences to some talented newcomers, including Pat Quinn as Alice; character actor M. Emmet Walsh as the Group W sergeant; Tina Chen as Mari-Chan, Arlo's girlfriend; and Shelley Plimpton (former wife of David Carradine and mother of Shelley Plimpton) as Reenie, an undernourished groupie. James Broderick (father of Matthew), who plays Ray, had only appeared on television and in a few bit parts like The Group (1966) before winning this important role. Folk singer Pete Seeger appears as himself, performing "Pastures of Plenty" and the "Car-Car Song" with Arlo. And Joni Mitchell can be heard singing "Songs to Aging Children" during the wintry funeral scene at Shelly's gravesite. By the way, the real Alice of Alice's Restaurant appears in a cameo. She later published a cookbook of her recipes. Producer: Hillard Elkins, Joseph Manduke Director: Arthur Penn Screenplay: Arthur Penn, Venabel Herndon Production Design: Warren Clymer Cinematography: Michael Nebbia Editing: Dede Allen Music: Arlo Guthrie, Garry Sherman Principal Cast: Arlo Guthrie (Arlo), Pat Quinn (Alice), James Broderick (Ray), Michael McClanathan (Shelly), Geoff Outlaw (Roger), Tina Chen (Mari-Chan), Kathleen Dabney (Karin), William Obanhein (Officer Obie), Joseph Boley (Woody), Shelley Plimpton (Reenie), M. Emmet Walsh (Group W Sergeant). C-111m. by Jeff Stafford

Alice's Restaurant


After the phenomenal success of Bonnie and Clyde in 1967, director Arthur Penn wanted to go in a different thematic direction, away from exploring violence as an unavoidable human condition. His inspiration for a new project came from an unlikely source, an eighteen-minute talking blues ballad by Arlo Guthrie entitled "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree." In an interview with Bernard Weinraub for the New York Times, Penn said, "I heard a record and said, 'That's a movie.' I didn't know what shape it would take. It seemed so active and cinematic. It took on images very quickly. It was difficult, though, because we didn't have a strong narrative, as we had in Bonnie and Clyde, to thrust it forward." But using key moments from the song like the confrontation with Officer Obie over the illegal dumping of garbage in the town dump and Arlo's experiences at the Army induction center, Penn's movie began to take shape, one that he hoped would encapsulate the counterculture of the sixties -- flower children, draft card burning, commune living, the rebellion against authority.

Retaining the loose and rambling ballad structure of the song, Alice's Restaurant (1969) is an often lyrical and bittersweet movie about an awkward time in the sixties. Though the general tone of the film is humorous, a more serious side emerges occasionally through the addition of new incidents -- such as Arlo's visit to the hospital to see his dying father, the legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie (played by Joseph Boley) -- or new characters like Shelly (Michael McClanathan), who dies of a drug overdose. But overall, the storyline mimics the song. Arlo, an itinerant hippie, drops in on a commune run by his friends, Ray (James Broderick) and Alice (Pat Quinn), and decides to stay awhile in their Berkshire County home (a reconverted church). A spectacular Thanksgiving Day meal ends in Arlo's arrest, which later inadvertently helps him avoid the draft and return to the commune. But the easygoing camaraderie among the hippies is slowly eroded by competitive relationships and sexual rivalries -- typical human foibles.

Alice's Restaurant was filmed in and around Stockbridge, Pittsfield, and Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and New York City. One of the most celebrated moments in the movie is the final shot of Alice, sitting alone on the steps of the deserted church, staring into an uncertain future. Penn and his editor, Dede Allen, spent months planning this complicated sequence which took hours to actually shoot. "The camera was dollying back and zooming in at the same time and the image of Alice remained constant," Penn said in the aforementioned New York Times article. "I wanted a certain melancholy in that scene. It was the closure of a phase in someone's life. I wanted the constancy of a memory experience and the physical sense of departure." In 1974, director Sidney Lumet would try to recreate this tricky final sequence with Blythe Danner in Lovin' Molly, an adaptation of Larry McMurtry's novel, Leaving Cheyenne.

When Alice's Restaurant opened theatrically, it received decidedly mixed reviews from the critics and wasn't a popular box-office success with its intended age group. Many pointed out that Arlo Guthrie was no actor but is merely playing himself here. Still, the film did garner an Oscar nomination for Best Director and introduced audiences to some talented newcomers, including Pat Quinn as Alice; character actor M. Emmet Walsh as the Group W sergeant; Tina Chen as Mari-Chan, Arlo's girlfriend; and Shelley Plimpton (former wife of David Carradine and mother of Shelley Plimpton) as Reenie, an undernourished groupie. James Broderick (father of Matthew), who plays Ray, had only appeared on television and in a few bit parts like The Group (1966) before winning this important role. Folk singer Pete Seeger appears as himself, performing "Pastures of Plenty" and the "Car-Car Song" with Arlo. And Joni Mitchell can be heard singing "Songs to Aging Children" during the wintry funeral scene at Shelly's gravesite. By the way, the real Alice of Alice's Restaurant appears in a cameo. She later published a cookbook of her recipes.

Producer: Hillard Elkins, Joseph Manduke
Director: Arthur Penn
Screenplay: Arthur Penn, Venabel Herndon
Production Design: Warren Clymer
Cinematography: Michael Nebbia
Editing: Dede Allen
Music: Arlo Guthrie, Garry Sherman
Principal Cast: Arlo Guthrie (Arlo), Pat Quinn (Alice), James Broderick (Ray), Michael McClanathan (Shelly), Geoff Outlaw (Roger), Tina Chen (Mari-Chan), Kathleen Dabney (Karin), William Obanhein (Officer Obie), Joseph Boley (Woody), Shelley Plimpton (Reenie), M. Emmet Walsh (Group W Sergeant).
C-111m.

By Jeff Stafford

Alice's Restaurant

After the phenomenal success of Bonnie and Clyde in 1967, director Arthur Penn wanted to go in a different thematic direction, away from exploring violence as an unavoidable human condition. His inspiration for a new project came from an unlikely source, an eighteen-minute talking blues ballad by Arlo Guthrie entitled "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree." In an interview with Bernard Weinraub for the New York Times, Penn said, "I heard a record and said, 'That's a movie.' I didn't know what shape it would take. It seemed so active and cinematic. It took on images very quickly. It was difficult, though, because we didn't have a strong narrative, as we had in Bonnie and Clyde, to thrust it forward." But using key moments from the song like the confrontation with Officer Obie over the illegal dumping of garbage in the town dump and Arlo's experiences at the Army induction center, Penn's movie began to take shape, one that he hoped would encapsulate the counterculture of the sixties -- flower children, draft card burning, commune living, the rebellion against authority. Retaining the loose and rambling ballad structure of the song, Alice's Restaurant (1969) is an often lyrical and bittersweet movie about an awkward time in the sixties. Though the general tone of the film is humorous, a more serious side emerges occasionally through the addition of new incidents -- such as Arlo's visit to the hospital to see his dying father, the legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie (played by Joseph Boley) -- or new characters like Shelly (Michael McClanathan), who dies of a drug overdose. But overall, the storyline mimics the song. Arlo, an itinerant hippie, drops in on a commune run by his friends, Ray (James Broderick) and Alice (Pat Quinn), and decides to stay awhile in their Berkshire County home (a reconverted church). A spectacular Thanksgiving Day meal ends in Arlo's arrest, which later inadvertently helps him avoid the draft and return to the commune. But the easygoing camaraderie among the hippies is slowly eroded by competitive relationships and sexual rivalries -- typical human foibles. Alice's Restaurant was filmed in and around Stockbridge, Pittsfield, and Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and New York City. One of the most celebrated moments in the movie is the final shot of Alice, sitting alone on the steps of the deserted church, staring into an uncertain future. Penn and his editor, Dede Allen, spent months planning this complicated sequence which took hours to actually shoot. "The camera was dollying back and zooming in at the same time and the image of Alice remained constant," Penn said in the aforementioned New York Times article. "I wanted a certain melancholy in that scene. It was the closure of a phase in someone's life. I wanted the constancy of a memory experience and the physical sense of departure." In 1974, director Sidney Lumet would try to recreate this tricky final sequence with Blythe Danner in Lovin' Molly, an adaptation of Larry McMurtry's novel, Leaving Cheyenne. When Alice's Restaurant opened theatrically, it received decidedly mixed reviews from the critics and wasn't a popular box-office success with its intended age group. Many pointed out that Arlo Guthrie was no actor but is merely playing himself here. Still, the film did garner an Oscar nomination for Best Director and introduced audiences to some talented newcomers, including Pat Quinn as Alice; character actor M. Emmet Walsh as the Group W sergeant; Tina Chen as Mari-Chan, Arlo's girlfriend; and Shelley Plimpton (former wife of David Carradine and mother of Shelley Plimpton) as Reenie, an undernourished groupie. James Broderick (father of Matthew), who plays Ray, had only appeared on television and in a few bit parts like The Group (1966) before winning this important role. Folk singer Pete Seeger appears as himself, performing "Pastures of Plenty" and the "Car-Car Song" with Arlo. And Joni Mitchell can be heard singing "Songs to Aging Children" during the wintry funeral scene at Shelly's gravesite. By the way, the real Alice of Alice's Restaurant appears in a cameo. She later published a cookbook of her recipes. Producer: Hillard Elkins, Joseph Manduke Director: Arthur Penn Screenplay: Arthur Penn, Venabel Herndon Production Design: Warren Clymer Cinematography: Michael Nebbia Editing: Dede Allen Music: Arlo Guthrie, Garry Sherman Principal Cast: Arlo Guthrie (Arlo), Pat Quinn (Alice), James Broderick (Ray), Michael McClanathan (Shelly), Geoff Outlaw (Roger), Tina Chen (Mari-Chan), Kathleen Dabney (Karin), William Obanhein (Officer Obie), Joseph Boley (Woody), Shelley Plimpton (Reenie), M. Emmet Walsh (Group W Sergeant). C-111m. By Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

'Chen, Tina' , who played Arlo's on-screen girlfriend, wore an authentic Chinese dress that had belonged to her grandmother. When they wrapped up the shoot, the film crew put the dress in storage. She never got it back.

The real Alice and Ray Brock appear as extras in the film. How to spot the real Alice: in the scene where "Ray" is putting up insulation she is wearing a brown turtleneck and her hair in a pony tail. In the Thanksgiving scene she wears a bright pink satin blouse. In the party scene she is wearing a Western-style dress.

Arlo's costume in the party scene is meant to be the King of Cups from a pack of tarot cards.

After discovering that the character "Officer Obie" was modeled after him, actual Stockbridge MA Sheriff William Obanhein demanded that he play the role himself. His reason: "If anyone is going to make a fool out of me, it might as well be me!"

Notes

Filmed on location in and around Stockbridge and in New York City.

Miscellaneous Notes

Vvoted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1969 New York Times Film Critics.

Released in United States 1996

Released in United States February 2007

Released in United States January 1994

Released in United States March 1976

Released in United States on Video April 1988

Released in United States Summer August 20, 1969

Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (Homage) February 8-18, 2007.

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "Out of the Seventies: Hollywood's New Wave 1969-1975" May 31 - July 25, 1996.)

Released in United States January 1994 (Shown at Sundance Film Festival (Tribute to Arthur Penn) in Park City, Utah January 20-30, 1994.)

Released in United States February 2007 (Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (Homage) February 8-18, 2007.)

Released in United States March 1976 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Special Programs - The Americas: A National Portrait) March 18-31, 1976.)

Released in United States Summer August 20, 1969

Released in United States on Video April 1988