2024 Blind Spot Series: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Official synopsis:
 A recently widowed woman (Ellen Burstyn) is on the road with her precocious young son (Alfred Lutter III), determined to make a new life for herself as a singer.

In my quest to watch Scorsese's older works, I've finally landed on this film, and honestly I should've started with it because I've enjoyed it far more than I did Raging Bull or Mean Streets.

Ellen Burstyn is a gem, and Alice is going through it as a character. One minute she's happy and hopefully, then reality comes crashing down on her. Not to mention she has terrible taste in men and a son who definitely talks too much. She's dealing with a lot, and I'm not surprised at all that Burstyn took home an Oscar for this.

I liked the little things it said about female friendships. Alice's goodbye scene with her friend Bea at the beginning is the film's most emotional moment. Alice eventually becoming friends with her fellow waitresses is another highlight. Even the scene where a man Alice has been seeing's wife turns up at her house, any moment with women interacting with each other is the highlight. 

It's fun seeing young Jodie Foster here too. My unpopular opinion is that she remains the only child actor that Scorsese can direct well. 

While this might not be the most polished film, I enjoyed watching it and it's worth seeking out for Burstyn's performance alone.

Grade: B


  1. This is Birgit..this is a good movie and well acted by Burstyn and Kris Kristofferson. Do you know that a successful comedy called “Alice” starring Linda Lavin, came from this film and Vic Tayback came back as the owner of that restaurant. I also love the song “Alice’s Restaurant”.

  2. This is a film that often gets overlooked when it comes to Martin Scorsese but I really do like this film a lot. Ellen Burstyn is great in this. When I first saw it, the kid who played Burstyn's son was someone I definitely recognized as he played Ogilvie in the first 2 Bad News Bears movies which I have a soft spot for. Diane Ladd is awesome as the other waitress who becomes Alice's friend as I'm glad you spotted Laura Dern in the film eating ice cream.

    There's a great story when Scorsese was directing the scenes in the diner and had Laura just eat ice cream. He was doing multiple takes of the scene but then realized... "oh shit..." as he was worried that Laura had eaten too much ice cream but she was cool about it as she didn't mind doing so many takes. A total pro at a young age. That is why Laura Dern is among the best!

    1. Sounds like a kid's dream, eating a ton of ice cream lol. Yeah, this is VERY different from most of his other films.

  3. I like but don't love this movie. I think the lack of polish you mention (something that was quite common and often strived for in late 60's/early 70's films where the directors were trying to separate from the big studios 50's glossiness) gives the film a more lived in feel which is appropriate to the story it's telling.

    Diane Ladd is marvelous as Flo and young Jodie Foster was almost always a wonder (I don't know if Scorsese can be credited with her expertness. As a child actress she was capable of tremendous insight often regardless of her director) but the film belongs to and rests on Ellen Burstyn's shoulders and she carries it most ably. She one of the greatest actresses of her generation.

    I can't quibble with Ellen winning the Oscar, she should have several, but if it was up to me I'd rip this one right out of her hands and give it to Gena Rowlands, who was nominated but lost, for one of the greatest pieces of acting I've ever seen in "Woman Under the Influence". It's not an easy film to watch and her character of Mabel isn't always likable but she is mesmerizing throughout. The performance is legendary and in fact I saw an interview with Ellen Burstyn a few years ago where she was talking about the frustration of awards and how deserving work goes unrewarded and specifically mentioned this film and performance. She said something along the lines of "Look at Gena Rowlands in Women Under the Influence! That's an Oscar winning performance!! Not MY Oscar you understand...but it deserved to win one." It's one of the maddening aspects of awards that sometimes something classic is up against other worthy work and only one person can take the prize.

    1. I think Scorsese is bad at directing children in general so Foster is probably an anomaly and does it all herself lol. Oh man, I didn't realize that was the same year...Yeah, I would've given it to Gena too. She was great in that.

    2. I think what fed into Ellen winning this year is that she lost the previous year for “The Exorcist” when Glenda Jackson inexplicably took the prize for the cute but flyaway "A Touch of Class". I mean that as no disrespect to Glenda who was a tremendous talent and worthy of several Oscars, though ironically not the two she won! But considering the work she was up against, not just Ellen but Barbra Streisand's best ever performance in "The Way We Were" (she would have been my pick for winner), there is no way she should have come out on top for her charming but unextraordinary performance. It came as a major surprise to all, including Glenda who not expecting to win didn't attend the ceremony.

      A small bit of trivia about the presentation of that particular Academy Award. Normally the previous year’s Best Actor winner would have presented the award but Brando had infamously refused to accept his Oscar for The Godfather so that was out. The producers looking for a notable alternative extended an invitation to Susan Hayward, who at the time was rumored to be mortally ill and living in seclusion expecting her to decline. She was in fact dying from an inoperable brain tumor but surprised them by accepting. She had decided it was her chance to make a final public appearance as a glamorous star while also dispelling media speculation about her condition. The academy, aware that she wasn’t up to doing a solo presentation enlisted fellow icon Charlton Heston (they had costarred in 1953’s “The President’s Lady” a huge favorite of mine.) to accompany her onstage. Though rail thin and heavily medicated with anti-seizure drugs she appeared fully turned out in a flaming red wig, green beaded gown and a dazzling smile leaning on Heston’s arm for support and presented with no issue, a star to the last. It was all a front; she had a seizure on her way home in the limo and never appeared in public again before her death in early 1975 at only fifty-seven. She was buried in the dress she wore that night.

      Anyway after that brief excursion into history even though I’d give her Oscar to Gena I would have handed Ellen another in 1980 for her work in “Resurrection” which unfortunately takes Sissy Spacek’s Oscar for “Coal Miner’s Daughter” but I felt that Sissy should have won in 2001 for “In the Bedroom” and that would only snatch it from Halle Berry’s underserving win in “Monster’s Ball” so I’m completely okay with that!! 😊

      Speaking of Gena another of her films I would recommend, and for which she was Oscar nominated, is 1980’s “Gloria” (a very strong year for actresses, Mary Tyler Moore was also in the lineup for her brilliant work in “Ordinary People”). She is amazing as a one-time gun moll who will do whatever is necessary to protect the young boy in her care whose family has been rubbed out and is being pursued by the mob.

    3. That's such a sad bit of trivia! I just watched the clip of her presenting and I had to chuckle at how mad all the other ladies looked when Glenda won lol


Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by, let's talk movies!
(comments are moderated to reduce spam)

Popular posts from this blog

Review: The Batman

Thursday Movie Picks: Wedding Movies

Random Ramblings: The Radio Flyer Conundrum