Alice’s Restaurant

Institute History

  • 1994 Sundance Film Festival


The longing for family and a sense of stability, so central to all of Penn's films, finds its consummate expression in Alice's Restaurant, his definitive portrait of the tumultuous and frenetic sixties. Ironically Alice (Pat Quinn) and Ray (James Broderick) need these values even more than the young artists, pacifists, nonconformists and drug-troubled kids they recruit to be their family and Install In a deconsecrated church in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, "a place to be the way we want to be at last."

With a structure like the Arlo Guthrie talking ballad which inspired it, Penn's episodic, cumulative film follows Arlo, a kind of everyman of the sixties, as he tries to shape a life in the midst of one of America's most turbulent decades. Still, the emotional heart of the film is Alice, a generous. Warm, intuitive, spontaneous earth mother, who feels she has to be all things to everyone around her but seldom has a chance to get the support she wants or needs herself. It is her image, alone and wistful outside the church as the film ends, along with the lyrics of Jam Mitchell's evocative "Songs to Aging Children," which we carry away with us.

Monday Jan 24 9:30 pm
Park City library Center


— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

  • Section: Challenge and Innovation: A Tribute to Arthur Penn
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Run Time: 111 min.
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