Clutching her corsage of violets and in a dress she hopes no one will notice she wore to last year's dance, Alice Adams is ready for South Renford's biggest evening of the year - and to pose as something she longs to be: one of the town's social elite. In this adaptation of Booth Tarkington's novel, Katharine Hepburn hit a career peak with her moving performance as social climber Alice, trying to push her clodhopper family to the background and assuming airs to win the love of an amiable, wealthy young man (Fred MacMurray). George Stevens directs, marking a career breakthrough with this funny, tenderly real comedy of Americana and manners, now glowingly rendered in a new digital transfer from restored picture and audio elements.
George Stevens' adaptation of BoothTarkington's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1921 novel, and his breakthrough film, stars Katherine Hepburn in the title role. A pretty young woman who dreams of reaching beyond her middle-class origins, Alice attends a party being hosted by Mildred Palmer (Evelyn Venable), a wealthy local debutante. Wearing a two-year-old gown, Alice is pointedly ignored by all, before Arthur Russell (Fred MacMurray), an attractive, unassuming young man from an affluent family, is taken with her, and asks her to dance. Despite the strength of her attraction to Arthur, Alice insists on keeping him at a distance, ashamed of her family's lack of money. After lavishing compliments on the young woman, he finally succeeds in persuading her to attend a party at the home of J.A. Lamb (Charley Grapewin), her father's well-to-do employer. While Mrs. Adams (Ann Shoemaker), pours abuse upon her invalid husband (Fred Stone) for allowing their limited means to interfere with their daughter's marriage prospects, Arthur's interest in romancing the girl continues unabated. ALICE ADAMS is a charming slice of Americana, both comic and poignant, sensitively directed by Stevens, with an unforgettably touching performance by Hepburn. The opening party scene is almost exactly reproduced, but with gender reversed, in A PLACE IN THE SUN, the director's far more somber reflection on social class in America.
Theatrical release: August 8, 1935 (New York)
Hepburn argued with Stevens throughout the production on the manner in which various scenes would be shot. Her resistance to his direction was such that one porch scene required over 80 takes.
Katharine Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress, an honor she had won for the first time the year before for the film "Morning Glory."
This was director George Stevens' first big success; after ALICE ADAMS Stevens directed two very different films--the musical SWING TIME and the action/drama GUNGA DIN.