Intrigued by the counterculture tale of Arlo Guthrie's epic 1968 talking-blues record The Alice's Restaurant Massacree, director Arthur Penn, co-scripting with playwright Venable Herndon, adapted the song into the 1969 feature Alice's Restaurant. Hippie outsider Arlo (Guthrie, playing himself) encounters suspicion from the straight world; visits ...Read MoreIntrigued by the counterculture tale of Arlo Guthrie's epic 1968 talking-blues record The Alice's Restaurant Massacree, director Arthur Penn, co-scripting with playwright Venable Herndon, adapted the song into the 1969 feature Alice's Restaurant. Hippie outsider Arlo (Guthrie, playing himself) encounters suspicion from the straight world; visits his dying father, renowned leftist activist/singer Woody Guthrie (Joseph Boley), in the hospital along with friend Pete Seeger; and hangs out in the title converted church/commune created by his friends Alice (Pat Quinn) and her husband Ray (James Broderick). After Alice's "Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat," Arlo is arrested for littering by rule-following Officer "Obie" Obanhein (William Obanhein, playing himself). That littering arrest helps Arlo avoid the Vietnam draft, but the commune is threatened after more personal, old-fashioned conflicts over sex and partnerships permeate Alice and Ray's alternative world. Lucia Bozzola, RoviRead Less
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TITLE: Alice's Restaurant
GENRE: Hippy Protest and communal livuing tale
CAST: Arlo Guthrie, Patricia Quinn, James Broderick, Pete Seeger, Geoff Outlaw, Michael McClanathan, William Obanhein and M Emmet Walsh
PLOT 1: The song: Losing his draft deferment for being a college student, Arlo was going to be drafted to serve in Vietman. After a thanksgiving feast at some friends, he gets arrested for littering when he disposed of the trash on a pre-existing illegal dumping. He gets caught, goes to trial, pleads guilty, gets a criminal record and is saved from being drafted because of it (He did pick up the trash later as part of his punishment)
PLOT 2: Alice and Ray run a hippy love operation out of a church and a restaurant in Norman Rockwell's little picture perfect version of America:Barrington, Mass. The experiment has its trials: failures and sucesses (one being Arlo)
RETURN ON INVESTMENT: 9 of 10 for the song part, 6.5 of 10 for the other part. This depicts hippy life sometimes true to fact and sometimes true to the fiction of the generation that feared it. The Bonus by Arlo helps sort that out. The closing shot of Alice in a wedding gown is the antithesis of the finale of "The Graduate". Though in itself a great shot, it's that part that holds this movie back, the film makers attempt to be part of the avant garde counter culture.
DVD BONUS: An overdubbed commentary by Arlo Guthrie; this is the R-rated version because of some nudity not shown in theaters; and, a theatrical trailer (itself a pre music video music video!)
ADDED NOTES: This is M Emmet Walsh's first credited role in movies. Arlo was told by Pres Ford's son that when Nixon left the White House, a copy of Alice's Restaurant album was left behind and coincidentally the song lasts 18.5 minutes exactly the length of missing recording on the Watergate tapes! Incredible but maybe true! Arlo is planning a sequel but doesn't know how to tell the tale.